Amongst the breadth of cartoons that are aimed at children, few shows hit someone in the “feels.” Bojack Horseman is one of those shows. On Netflix. That’s a sucker punch that makes you wonder where it even came from.
Bojack Horseman is a show about the titular character; a former 90’s sitcom star trying to get back into the limelight. Its set in a Los Angeles filled with humans and anthropomorphic animals coexisting among one another. Among the ones who join Bojack’s attempt to get back in the limelight, is his feline talent agent, Princess Carolyn, his slacker roommate Todd, and his ghostwriter Diane.
The episodes start with offbeat plots that primarily poke fun and take jabs at Hollywoo(d) and the fanaticism that is celebrity culture. But towards the end, we start seeing the darkness that looms inside Bojack, and it’s delivered sharp and poignant. We quickly learn that Bojack was a narcissist from the start, but as we get further along, we see him become increasingly self-destructive, petty, and manipulative. The effects of Hollywoo(d) stardom become apparent with his actions. But there are times where he can be the most level-headed person out there – when he’s not indulging in his vices.
It all comes to a head in “Downer Ending.” Just as the episode title states, we see Bojack at rock bottom: unable to cope with the reality that is, wanting validation that he isn’t really the asshole we see him as. We see Bojack delude himself into the image he thinks he is versus the reality of who he is. What started as a show about a horse trying to get back on his hooves becomes a realization that in many ways, we are Bojack Horseman in some messed-up way.
Shows like Bojack Horseman and Rick and Morty are praised for its dark, cynical view on how life works, being referred to as “sadcoms,” with their focus on Byronic heroes. Characters are misanthropic, but in their actions you see why they are the people (or horse) they are. In the case of Bojack, we can understand why he is the way he is, and while you can sympathize for him, his actions make sense, but can’t be justified. In the end, there’s always a glimmer of hope that it’ll all get better. But there is some truth in that in each and every life, some rain must fall. It’s good to have a little rain when all you see is sunshine.
Overall, the show is a must-watch. It’s one of the best animated series, even on par with live-action shows. The animation may be a bit stiff and simple at times, but it makes it up tenfold with the plotlines. The gags are hilarious and not overdrawn, and the writing is strong enough where you can begin to see a little of Bojack in yourself when the season is over.