Bojack Horseman: The Best New Show for the Socially Conscious (and everyone else)

IF you have not seen this masterpiece, refer to the guidelines below- if you have seen it (including season 2), skip them and carry on to the rest of the post:

netflix

Listen carefully and follow these steps- don’t ask questions until the process is done- work in a timely manner and make sure to follow directions exactly as they are told:

  1. Create a Netflix account (If you already have a Netflx account, skip #1)
  2. Try to remember the goddamn password for your Netflix account- Dog’s middle name? Zip code? Favorite flavor of special edition Doritos? Come on man!                                                 Alternatively, you could just reset your password I guess- but time is of the goddamn essence! (If you are creating a new Netflix account, skip #2)
  3. Forget everything else that you want to binge watch for the time being and don’t let yourself get distracted under any circumstance
  4. Go to the upper right corner of the page where you will find a little magnifying glass- then click that magnifying glass
  5. Type “Bojack Horseman” into the little rectangle- as you do, a new rectangle will magically appear, featuring Bojack’s beautiful face
  6. Click on his wonderful face, sit back (or stand) and view this program in all it’s deep, dark, funny, emotional glory
  7. Come back here and read this post so we can talk about it

Now, back to the good stuff:

(Please be aware that there will be some spoilers sprinkled throughout this piece, so please don’t read if you’re not yet done with the season- follow the above directions first, dammit!)

I just finished up season 2 this morning. If I had been working against my better judgement, I would have devoured the whole season in a day, but I knew I would regret that. Instead, I tried to savor each delicious episode. Let it linger on in my memory for as long as I possibly could. I tried to ride off the feelings of each 25 minute chunk of goodness for at least a few solid days before moving on to the next.

Some days were easier than others- especially when Netflix does that thing where it just starts the next episode for you. How could I possibly resist? I finished up the whole season in about 2 weeks, give or take.

This season left me with so many more feelings than last. Yes, sadness. Lots of sadness. But also hope- not just for my beloved characters but for the future of television (or web series) as a whole.

Here’s why:

     1. Bojack depicts depression in a real way– no sugar-coating, glamourising, or stigmatising

depression

Rarely have I seen a show exhibit depression in a way that is so relatable to it’s audience- and in cartoon form at that. Even if you have not ever been clinically diagnosed with depression, you have (I’m assuming) felt some of the things he’s felt, questioned what he’s questioned, or experienced what he’s experienced.

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(Maybe not bi-species relationships, but still).

As a voluntary participant in his fictional life, I root for him the whole way through. But you can see that is not the case with others who he forms relations with along the way. Others who actually have to put up with his mania and recklessness. In my own life, I have witnessed friends and family members give up on their loved ones with mental illness. This show holds true to that harsh reality.

Princess Carolyn, despite her caring temperament, knew she had to stop dating (or hooking up with) Bojack for her own mental standing. Despite ghost-writer Diane’s apparent connection with the titular character, she did not pursue a relationship with him either. She married Mr. Peanutbutter, an optimist actor-dog who would not feed her own depressive cycle.

In season 2, Bojack begins dating an owl named Wanda who just woke up from a 30 year coma. She seems to finally be the one who will stick around. She is independent and has no care (or knowledge) that Bojack was once a TV sensation. She is sensitive of his feelings yet is smart enough not play along with his victimisation. Yet even she has to walk away from him. She concludes, “when you look at someone with rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags”. (One of the strongest/saddest lines in the whole season, BTW).

I could go on forever about these characters and their behavior- but I won’t. I’ll leave that to all these other hyperfans.

In short, I want to say that if you are looking for a relatable, digestible depiction of mental illness, this is it. For myself, the more I watch the show, the easier it becomes for me to pick up on the signs of someone who is struggling. Maybe that person is yourself- maybe it is someone you know. Maybe (probably) both- as I am under the impression that everyone experiences mental instability in one way or another to varying degrees.

I highly recommend that you take some time with this show and it’s characters in order to fully understand the many facets of depression within our society.

     2. The show contains many strong female roles that don’t put up with mysoginistic and/or patronizing bullshit

The aforementioned Diane is the most obviously staunch character in the show. She is a self-declared third-wave feminist who is passionate about sticking it to the man and fighting for justice. In this season, she attempts to expose sexual assault allegations against television host Hank Hippopopolos (which seems suspiciously similar to the Bill Cosby allegations that surfaced in 2014). Despite the media’s backlash and her husband’s pleas not to rock the boat, Diane continues to spread the truth about Hank.

Diane’s conflicting relationship between work and her marriage is an overarching theme throughout most of the season. (Ah, what a common feminist theme. Can women really have it all?) But the show keeps things fresh when they could easily become stale & overdone. Take, for instance, the scene when a random man in the airport tells Diane to “smile” (which, in my and other’s opinions, is not okay).

Or in season 1 when Diane comments on Sarah Lynne’s uber-sexualised identity.

Diane isn’t the only one bringing female empowerment into the light in this show. Princess Carolyn shines when she takes control of her new business plan and owns her status as a single, middle-aged woman in the final episode of season 2. For the first time that viewers see, she holds her own and comes to terms with what she actually wants (which isn’t a calm, “perfect” life with a house, husband and 2.5 kids). Again, bringing to the surface that “working woman struggle”.

Other, more subtle feminist-friendly jokes appear in bits and pieces throughout the show. Show creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg consciously analyzes gender roles and male privilege when creating the show, which *should* be expected but usually is not in the powerful world of show business. I applaud him immensely at his efforts, as he’s done a great job so far.

My mega liberal arts school has made me acutely aware of all things left-wing/equality-related/PC, so I wonder how obvious these themes of mental health and sex/gender issues are to people not quite as informed. Is the show proving a point? Is it bringing awareness to these topics?

I sure hope so. When you look closely, the show is full of thought-provoking situations that might even raise more questions that answers. (Like what am I doing with my life? Am I happy? Can I love/be loved?) Yeah.. pretty fun stuff.

And even if you don’t want to get that deep right now, sit tight and stick along for the ride anyway. At the least, you’ll get a few good laughs and a banging soundtrack. Maybe even a tear or two.

I leave you with this song- the perfect tune to close out the final episode of season 2. Hope you enjoy.

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