Article, Reviews, Thoughts

BOJACK HORSEMAN – SAD OR HONEST?

While the final season (part 2), airing 31st January 2020, of BoJack Horseman looms upon our heads, it is about time we tear apart this beautiful animated series to see just how well it deals with many issues of our daily lives in the most fun and humorous manner – all in all with a gut wrenching honesty. It is time to search for the answer of the most important question, i.e., “Is BoJack Horseman just painfully sad or overwhelmingly honest?

Television has become a simulator through which human beings try to escape their own reality. Television provides human beings with the option to choose to divulge themselves into another reality with characters and story-line(s) and thereby the option to push aside their own life and their own issues. But would you watch a work of art that would very outrightly deal with these issues that you push aside to get some peace of mind? Would you watch something that very much slaps these issues right back into your face in the most genuine way possible? 

BoJack Horseman is an American adult animated comedy-drama Netflix original series created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and it casts stars like Will Arnett (voicing the title character), Amy Sedaris (voicing Princess Carolyn), Alison Brie (voicing Diane Nguyen), Paul F. Tompkins (voicing Mr. Peanutbutter) and Aaron Paul (voicing Todd Chavez). The show tells the story of BoJack Horseman, a horse who is a washed-up Hollywood superstar and now leads a lonely and troubled life after starring in a hit TV show called “Horsin’ Around.” The show’s universe is a complex and tricky one as it has all kinds of animals and fishes with humanlike characteristics and also has humans within the same universe. The title character, as mentioned before, is a horse with humanlike characteristics who can talk and feel things like a normal human being. BoJack’s best friend Todd Chavez is a human being and is also BoJack’s roommate. Whereas, BoJack’s agent, and friend, Princess Carolyn, is a cat. Diane Nguyen is also a human being and is a ghostwriter. Diane’s husband Mr. Peanutbutter is a dog and also a Hollywood superstar like BoJack.

The show starts off as a subpar animated comedy show in the first season and introduces us to the current life of BoJack Horseman after his show has ended and how being a Hollywood superstar affects his daily life. At first the show seems like just an ordinary show that is trying its best at being funny and comical and perhaps a little sarcastic in tone but as soon as you finish with the first season the show brings in a whole new perspective and doesn’t refrain from outrightly stunning you with the way it aims at taboo topics. The show carefully tackles issues like loneliness, failing careers, anxiety, depression, heartbreaks, etc. whilst managing to deliver on-the-nose humor and wit. The first half of the first season was not welcomed with open arms but the latter half of the season blew minds and that is when the show saw a boom in its popularity and got on the success train.

credit: Netflix LLC

Most of the famous episodes of the series are from the last 3 seasons with Time’s Arrow (Season 4, Episode 11) being the most loved episode of the whole series and Free Churro (Season 5, Episode 6) being the second most loved. Time’s Arrow delivers us a look at the story of Beatrice Sugarman (BoJack’s abusive mother) and how her life turned upside down after she met Butterscotch Horseman (BoJack’s father) and had their son BoJack. The episode shows us the life of Beatrice and how all her dreams were crushed and how she had to go through so many traumatic incidents in her childhood and even in her teenager years. Free Churro is an episode which delivers an extraordinary amount of insight into BoJack’s own life and his mother’s all in nothing but a simple and plain monologue delivered by BoJack himself at his mother’s funeral. The monologue goes on for the whole runtime of the episode and shows us the true power this show has and how the writers have beautifully utilized their ability to tackle such sad and stigmatic issues head-on whilst maintaining to sprinkle humor and wit here and there throughout the episode. BoJack talks about freedom, his father, his mother, Hollywood, himself, existence and empathy throughout the episode. One of the most important dialogue from the whole monologue is, “Usually when people ask how I’m doing, the real answer is I’m doing shitty, but I can’t say I’m doing shitty, because I don’t even have a good reason to be doing shitty. So, if I say, “I’m doing shitty,” then they say, “Why? What’s wrong?” And I have to be like, “I don’t know, all of it?” So instead, when people ask me how I’m doing, I usually say, “I am doing so great.“”

In conclusion, BoJack Horseman brings in a new wave of television to television and instead of being categorized as a sad show it pushes itself to be categorized as a show which is open and honest and deals with life in the most genuine form all the while maintaining it’s potential to grow and change.

Yusuf Aziz
BA (Hons) English, Jamia Millia Islamia

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