Bojack Horseman is an animated series that has, very rarely, not delivered unbridled (pun!) excellence despite the fact that the show, to the outsider at least, looks like nothing but a cartoon about taking animals. It’s so much more… it’s about the pain of addiction, depression, loneliness, bottled up anger, resentment… it’s about so many dark things and, as someone who has to deal with those dark things more than I care to admit, the show has hit harder than most others do. I remember once, after watching an episode a couple of years back, one character, breaking up with another, laments, “You know, when you’re wearing rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.” I teared up instantly at what was a massive suppository of truth that I’ve been an undying fan ever since.
Now we’re at the end… the first half of Bojack’s final se seeason has hit Netflix and now, we’re seeing a Bojack we’ve never seen before. While we’ve seen Bojack try to change himself before, this is the first time he’s come off as genuine, the first time you honestly believe that he is willing and ready.
Picking up where the last season left off, Bojack checks himself into rehab to rid himself of his addictions once and for all. Rather than allowing him to do rehab in one episode, the show keeps him there for several, giving his eventual return to public life a feeling of being earned, not given. Bojack also struggles while in rehab… he tries to convince a fellow rehabber he accidentally told how to escape to come back and get help, he accidentally lets vodka fall into the hands of a recovering alcoholic and babysits him until he sobers up, and then faces his own fear that he’s not ready to be out in the wild again.
The parting with his old ways is a messy one and his past misdeeds are not forgotten. One episode in particular in which Bojack doesn’t even appear, shows how his terrible past behavior has trickle down effects on those he encountered including Kelsey, a director he got fired from a movie, and a former co-star he attacked last season in drug-fueled rage.
You get the feeling that, even though he’s freeing himself, he will never be free.
Amazingly, this season has delivered episodes of hope and growth as well, not only for Bojack, but also for Princess Caroline who struggles with her new role as an adoptive mother, Mister Peanutbutter who is embroiled in his own guilt for cheating on his new fiance, Diane who has moved on with her career and life, yet also finds herself aimless and depressed, and even Todd who seems to actually be craving a little direction in his wonderfully chaotic life.
This first half-season has been a season of healing and hope, but the consequences of the entire show and the poor choices that Bojack has made over the years, are coming back to not only haunt him, but everyone he cares about. I have to say that the cliffhanger is probably one of the most heartbreaking, anxiety-inducing cliffhangers I’ve seen in a very long time.
While I’m not eager for Bojack to end, I’ll be counting down until the final episodes air in January to see if those consequences catch up to Bojack in the end and, if they end him or he has the courage to face them and own up to them.