Good television is easy to find these days, Netflix seems to be cranking out new series daily but it’s rare to find a show as unique and special as Raphael BobWaksberg’s Bojack Horseman. This series about a cartoon horse is a lot more depressing than it’s title and promotional imagery might make it out to be. The story centres around Bojack Horseman a washed up sitcom actor living in Hollywood trying to write a memoir about his life and experiences. The story obviously develops from here but this memoir is the main crux of this show’s first season.
The series begins as a typical animated sitcom such as The Simpsons or Family Guy but unfolds into something so much greater. The one obvious difference in this story is that there is no family dynamic, the whole show mostly focuses on one character and his struggle to find success in Hollywood but mostly to be happy and stable. It’s revealed in the first few minutes that Bojack is an alcoholic and has not been coping well with the fact that his Tv series has essentially become irrelevant to the public. He lives by himself with his “Roommate” Todd that crashes on his couch and does not pay rent.
Unlike most other sitcom protagonists, Bojack doesn’t get forgiven for his actions. He’s not a good person and this is reflected in the way that he treats other characters and how other characters treat him, his actions have consequences and these consequences usually build up as the 11th episode of that season. each season is 12 episodes long and the usual pattern so far has been that episode 11 is when consequences come crashing down and Bojack is portrayed as a truly bad person. These are moments where he truly wallows in self pity and as audience members we’re not sure if we should feel sadness or hate for what he’s done. This is what makes this show so brilliant, Bojack should not be likeable by any stretch but we can’t help but relate to him in moments even though the show makes it very clear that he is not a good person it’s hard to not feel bad when bad things happen to him.
One of the best parts of the show other than the sadness and drama is the comedy. Explaining why a joke is funny is one of the worst things to ever do but most of the humour is dry, dark and sometimes just goofy. It uses the fact that a lot of the main characters are animals to give some genuinely clever animal related puns. It’s also biting social commentary on the state of Hollywood is hard to not spot at first glance. The jokes are so funny that the sadness that follows is made so much worse. The fact that these characters are mostly animals also adds to their character traits, Mr Peanutbutter Bojack’s friend and sort of rival is a Labrador that is often too clingy and tries way too hard to please the partners he’s with. Princess Carolyn Bojack’s agent is a cat and is insanely feisty in everything she does and says. These characters all have pasts and we get to see them grow as the show goes on and we understand that they have real problems.
There is a quote in the 5th season when Bojack asks his friend Diane about how he can be a better person and she says something along the lines of “You keep thinking that there are good and bad people but we’re all just average” this sums up the show really well as all of the characters are flawed and have their own side stories throughout the show that develop into genuinely heartbreaking moments.
The main point of the show 5 seasons in is that no one gets a happy ending, even more successful minor characters in the land of Hollywood are sad for something and some of these characters don’t end up following their dreams and they die sad. Bojack Horseman however keeps fighting and this series is perfect so far, I’d say it’s currently the best thing on television right now (well Netflix) and yes a cartoon about an alcoholic talking horse is the best thing on television right now and probably the most accurate portrayal of depression ever put to the screen.