I feel like I need to talk about BoJack Horseman. I remember when the show aired in 2014, it came out of nowhere. It seemed a bit odd, with Netflix starting to go all in on original programming. Seeing a show that looked like it belonged more on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, was jarring to see on the streaming service. But having the all-star cast of Will Arnett, and Aaron Paul, fresh off the high point of TV’s golden standard “Breaking Bad”, it seemed like it was worth checking out.
BoJack started off as the “hey, look at this terrible piece of trash character!” type of show. One where the main character is an Anti-Hero, where he is crude, abusive and just downright unlikable. But over time you see why he is that way. I was offput by this when I first started watchiing, and mainly watched because there was nothing else going on, and I wanted to get my money’s worth out of the Netflix service. I watched it in spite of the main character.
The world inside the show never made much sense to me starting out either, the anthropomorphic animals living and acting just like humans, and no one acknowledges that animals are no different than humans, and even worse, can be romantically involved with them. It just seemed weird and off.
As the seasons progressed, BoJack just got to be a real scumbag. Making decisions that no one would actually make. He is a sociopath and a complete dirtbag. Unlikable in every way. Yet, I continued to watch. I don’t remember every plot point, I don’t remember every single thing leading up to it. But there was a turning point in the show, where the show started to feel like it was going to start wrapping up. Diving into the characters, and really studying why these characters act the ways they do. That is where the show became something special.
When Bojack the show started to realize no one wants to see a depressed asshole, just continually be a horrible person, and instead diverted it into a show about the reasons why he was the way he was, it became almost touching.
The flashbacks that centered on his family. his mother and father (which some can say seems like a cliche or even contrived) changed how the show was presented and made it work for this series. The second to last season, the episode that is basically a 20 minute monologue made me stop and take notice of this show in a different light. There IS good writing here. It just took years for it to find its footing. When Bojack becomes a show about a flawed human horse thing, who hates who he has become, and actually tries to get better… That is when this show shines. That is when it becomes a legend of TV.
The last season is split into two parts, the first part just aired with 8 episodes, and all but two were phenomenal. When the show focuses on the core characters, it is magical. But when it strays, and tries to be a satire of Hollywood and show business at large, that’s where I start pulling out my phone and looking at forums and it becomes a background show. The last episode, you can see the twists coming from a mile away, you can see the show trying to turn it back into parody and have cliffhangers and reverting back to its old ways…. Maybe its a commentary on BoJack the character itself. Maybe it’s trying to say that no one truly changes even though they want to and start to. Maybe those who try are doomed to just fall back into bad habits and never truly change…. or maybe I’m reading too far into it. But sadly, when I saw that happen, I got disappointed. When the show has focus on the characters you have grown to love/hate/be disappointed in/be proud in…. It’s one of the best shows ever written, But other times, it can be just another adult oriented cartoon not meant for children, like so many others.
I really hope BoJack finishes strong. Because in needs to. If it doesn’t it’ll just be another one of “those” shows. Nothing about it will be special. And I really do think this show is special, at its core. It’s about a flawed human horse … thing. Who blames everyone else for his issues of being a complete waste of existence, where the world would be better off if they just died. But over the course of the seasons, he finally snaps out of it and starts to progress and make changes, and then backslides back and forth. The struggle with substance abuse, emotional abuse and physical abuse all can be real things people struggle with. And if the show ends with a horrible character, who you’d never think could change, and eventually does, even if it shows how hard that change can be… It will be worth it. If it can help one person realize that it’s not hopeless, then that will be more than enough to justify the shows existence.
Once the show ends, I might add to this, or update it or just leave it be and write something else instead. But as it stands right now. I am excited to see how the show finishes up. I adore parts of this show. It can be silly, or wacky or heartfelt and touching, or depressing. It’s an interesting show, one that defies the expectations of what you think it’s going to be. Watch BoJack Horseman.