The Buzz: ‘BoJack Horseman’ Season 6 Isn’t Horsing Around
For a show about talking animals, there is nothing childish or juvenile about BoJack Horseman. Well, nothing except for BoJack’s initial attitude and reluctance to bear responsibility, but even that’s changing in the show’s latest and final season. Released in 2014, BoJack Horseman is the brainchild of Raphael Bob-Waksberg, the showrunner and voice of several minor characters. Waksberg is joined by cartoon artist, Lisa Hanawalt, who serves as both producer and set designer for the show. Together, they’ve created an unexpected success, spawning a spin off show entitled, Touca & Bertie.
BoJack Horseman is a satire about Hollywood industries. While excessive and exaggerative, it’s also strangely apt and on-the-nose about media culture, particularly the artificiality of celebrities and the turning tide of public opinion. This dark comedy takes place in a world where humans, anthropomorphic animals, and actual animals all live together in relative harmony. For instance, there are mosquito girls who make out and suck blood via their mouth or white whale corporations who eat up smaller, independent businesses. The show is serialized, and the characters are dynamic, although not always for the better. Characters are not on an uphill climb; they weave, wind and sometimes even full on U-turn in terms of morality or personal growth.
The basic premise of the show is that the titular character, BoJack (Will Arnett), is a former 90s sitcom star, who now faces obscurity and depression. He is joined by his ex-girlfriend turned business agent/friend, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), his anxiety-prone friend Diane (Alison Brie), her ex-husband and his benevolent rival Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), and wildcard, Todd (Aaron Paul). BoJack starts off as selfish and self-pitying, damaging and destroying the wellbeing of himself and those around him. In this season, BoJack desperately wants to face some sort of punishment or forgiveness for his past. Namely, for his role in the death of his former co-star, the young Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal), and almost sleeping with the underage daughter, Penny (Ilana Glazer), of one of his friends. But BoJack is not the only one facing challenges. From depression to newfound motherhood to infidelity, each of the main protagonists must confront themselves and their struggles, both internal and external.
Season six is the final season of BoJack Horseman. Much like other Netflix series finales, the show’s last season is split into two, eight episodes each. The second half will debut on January 31, 2020. BoJack starts this season in rehab, guilty over Sarah Lynn’s death. Interestingly, this season doesn’t mainly focus on BoJack. Some episodes are devoted to the other characters and their lives. For example, Princess Carolyn trying to balance being a mom and businesswoman in 06:02 ‘The New Client’, or Mr. Peanutbutter having to admit to his fiancé, Pickles (Julia Chan), that he cheated on her with his ex-wife in 06:04 ‘Surprise’. It’s refreshing for a show to focus on what happens outside of the main character’s life. The world does not revolve around BoJack, a lesson he’s come to learn the hard way.
A 2-D animation, BoJack Horseman’s visuals are exceptional. That more than dialogue or even the prevalent flashbacks help indicate character subjectivity. In ‘The New Client’, Princess Carolyn is followed by colored specters of herself. They dominate and overcrowd the screen doing various tasks, distracting and overwhelming the viewer. It’s a simple but beautiful way of showcasing her hectic life. BoJack also has his own visual motif. Alcohol is replaced with what looks like a liquid night sky – an ode to Sarah Lynn and her overdose at the planetarium. The opening credits have even altered to reflect BoJack’s state of mind. Already a look into his feelings of apathy and inadequacy, the new credits have references to BoJack’s overwhelming guilt, such as shining lights or his physical appearance from the 1990s.
Season six is simultaneously BoJack’s highest and lowest point so far. BoJack, freshly sober from rehab, is finally taking control for his actions. He apologizes to those whom he’s wronged and is trying to connect with other horses, whom he’s kept at a distance in response to negative associations with themm. BoJack is probably in the best standing of his life – his personal one – this entire show, but with that, comes the potential to lose it all. Of the episodes, the final one, 06:08 ‘A Quick One While He’s Away’, is the most nerve-wracking. BoJack doesn’t even feature in the episode, instead it parodies His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks 1940) as two reporters get closer and closer to unveiling BoJack’s past crimes. It also switches between Gina (Stephanie Beatriz) and her PTSD after having been choked by BoJack on the set of their show. Her secrecy over the matter and inability to explain why she’s so jumpy prevents her from furthering her career, the very reason why she wanted to stay silent over BoJack’s actions. Just as suspenseful, is BoJack’s half-sister, Hollyhock (Aparna Nancherla) hearing about BoJack supplying high schoolers with alcohol and abandoning them at the hospital from someone who knew Penny.
If the truth about BoJack comes out, it won’t just affect him, but those around him. As a new mom, Princess Carolyn probably won’t want BoJack near her daughter. Diane, who’s new boyfriend has a son, will likewise face scrutiny from her lover over being a close friend to someone like BoJack. Then there’s BoJack himself, who after finally feeling like he may not be so bad of a person, will be publicly held accountable for his mistakes. The show is stunning in material and presentation. It can handle difficult subjects like depression or sexuality with a surprising amount of levity, and then suddenly dive into deeper and more emotional narratives over something as simple as a haircut. While the latter episodes of the season have a bit of a religious undertone to them, it’s not strong enough or preachy enough to deter viewers from tuning in. BoJack Horseman the character might be facing a downwards descent, but BoJack Horseman the show is only going upwards.