Photo courtesy of Goombastomp.com
Story by Naffie Njie / Contributing Writer
This post contains spoilers.
“BoJack Horseman” daringly tackles addiction, feminism, death, sexuality and more in its new season.
I started watching ” BoJack Horseman” about a year ago, expecting a quirky comedy series about a used-to-be famous, peevish, old horse and his misadventures. Instead, I became enamored with a gripping adult dramedy that satirizes current events and sincerely portrays the human experience. The show takes a painfully honest look at real-life issues like self-sabotage and mental illness without hitting viewers over the head with lessons or losing its innate humor. It is one of Netflix’s best cartoon series.
In a sea of off-beat, relatable Netflix cartoons, BoJack Horseman’s hyperconscious comedic style completely stands out. The show centers around BoJack Horseman, a depressed, alcoholic has-been horse-actor whose constant need for approval makes him difficult and annoying. His agent and on-and-off girlfriend, Princess Carolyn, is a pink, Persian, headstrong forty-something career woman in search of a balance between her hectic work life and her troubled personal life. Diane Nguyen is BoJack’s sensitive, kind human ghostwriter for his memoir “One Trick Pony;” she is Vietnamese-American and a third-wave feminist. Her husband, Mr. Peanutbutter, a happy-go-lucky yellow Labrador retriever, is BoJack’s frenemy and has been married three times. Todd Chavez is a well-meaning human and slacker who lives on BoJack’s couch; BoJack openly criticizes him but secretly cares about Todd.
It’s an absurd comedy in many ways: The cast is a melting pot of humans and various animal species with human-like capabilities, the show is set in Hollywoo (previously Hollywood, but someone steals the D in a romantic gesture), current events are parodied and satirized and many ridiculous running gags and catchphrases exist such as character Margo Martindale’s funky appearances and Todd’s use of “Hooray!” at any moment.
This season begins with BoJack starring in “Philbert,” a new show for the popular website “WhatTimeIsItRightNow.com.” He and showrunner Flip McVicker clash. Princess Carolyn is producing the show while actively trying to adopt a baby, and Diane is brought on as a consultant to make “Philbert” more well-rounded and less sexist. Todd applies for a job at WhatTimeIsItRightNow.com and becomes president of ad sales, and Mr. Peanutbutter is cast as Philbert’s partner.
Season five takes interesting liberties with subjectivity and point of view, somewhat shirking the show’s linear storyline for an anachronic one in certain episodes. In episode two, Diane travels to Vietnam to find herself after divorcing Mr. Peanutbutter. The episode shuffles back and forth between the present (her trip) and her specific reasons for going and concludes with a surprising revelation about why she needs to get away.
Episode six, “Free Churro,” sees BoJack deal with the loss of his mother, who was verbally abusive and unsupportive. The entire episode is an unfortunate, yet touching eulogy delivered by BoJack that reveals his need for a connection to his mother.
Episode seven, “INT. SUB,” is narrated through a conversation between Indira, Diane’s therapist, and her wife, Mary Beth, who is mediating a dispute between Princess Carolyn and Todd. To uphold confidentiality with their clients, they change the names and defining characteristics of everyone.
Episode eleven, “The Showstopper,” blends BoJack’s spiral from addiction with his character Philbert’s detective story. The episode shifts from Philbert and his new partner Sassy’s investigation to BoJack’s own investigation of a threatening note he received. He’s incredibly paranoid.
This season gives us a deeper look into each character’s relationships with each other. We find out how BoJack and Todd met, viewers get a closer look at Mr. Peanutbutter’s failed relationships, Todd’s asexuality and search for love is highlighted and Princess Carolyn’s childhood is chronicled.
Diane’s relationship with BoJack is tested, per usual, due to his inability to admit that he needs to change his behavior. Although we tend to feel sorry for BoJack due to his awful childhood, struggles with addiction, depression and his denial of reality, he is not the good guy. Not really, anyway. However, he doesn’t appear to be a terrible person; this season truly showcases duality in all its characters.
This is nothing new. “BoJack Horseman” has been hitting us with hard truths since mid-season one, but this season reminds us that progress takes honesty and work. The show continues to give multiple perspectives on the meanings of addiction and mental illness while portraying a broken man struggling not to ruin everyone around him. This, combined with its unique storytelling, comedic elements and relatability make season five the best one yet.
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