I never saw Bojack coming.
I kind of dismissed it (as many did) as a cheap and harmless Netflix cartoon and, for a while as I watched, I was certain that’s what it was going to turn out to be. Rather, Bojack Horseman evolved into a fascinating study of failure and depression with episodes that were smart, funny, and shatteringly sad at the same time. Although Bojack is a selfish and conceited person, you understand him and sympathize with him more than you would, say, Peter Griffin or a similar character because, deep down, Bojack doesn’t want to be the way he is. He wants to be better, but the poor guy is in a prison of his own making.
This was the theme to the opening episode of season two. Last season, Bojack – a former 90’s sit-com star in case you haven’t been keeping up – found new-found fame as his autobiography was published and he found himself cast in his dream role of Secretariat. Now, he’s adopted a brand new can-do positive attitude and trying to be a better person all around, but there is still something missing in his life and, as things begin to fall apart as usual, Bojack wonders if he will ever truly be happy.
Bojack becomes the ultimate victim of “fake it until you feel it” which, as we well know, never works. The show asks a question to the viewers without ever actually asking it and that question is: Are some people doomed to be unhappy?
I’ve already binged the season so I know that the answer is coming and I won’t spoil that here, but like most of Bojack Horseman, the answer is simple, anticlimactic, and amazingly appropriate to the arch of the season.
I love this show. It’s one of the few shows short of Futurama that can deliver hilarious punchlines alongside soul-crushing sadness but, unlike Futurama, Bojack Horseman’s sadness is more cutting and, in most ways, more cruel. There is a moment near the end of the episode when Bojack gets a phone call that, quite honestly, will probably make you sick to your stomach.
But in the end, that’s what this show is all about: Depression and sadness. I know that’s not much of a selling point if you haven’t seen Bojack Horseman before, but it’s probably one of the most brutal and honest shows about the human condition that we don’t like to talk about much and the more you watch it, the more you want to see these characters overcome their demons and succeed.
What else can I say? When it’s funny, its funny. When it’s sad, it’s sad. The voice cast is on top of things, the writing is sharp, and the show is filled with so many clever blink-and-you-miss-them gags that you almost have to watch every episode twice just to see most of them.
If you’re not watching Bojack Horseman, you’re a terrible person. Be like Bojack and try to be less terrible.