The Beautiful Balance of Brilliance and Bleakness in Bojack Horseman

There are some shows that come out that either deal with heavy handed issues and some that make you laugh with gut busting jokes. I am a personally a fan of both genres, but I’m an even bigger fan of shows that can find a balancing act between being incredibly funny, but also harsh realities of life. And no show does that better than, The Good Place. But an even better example is Bojack Horseman.

Are you here to see a man talk about a horse?

Bojack Horseman starts out as a show about Bojack Horseman (Will Arnett), a washed up actor from a Full House type show called, “Horsin’ Around.” His two closes friends are his agent/exgirlfriend Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), who tries to get him out of trouble and work, and Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul) who lives in Bojack’s house after crashing there during a Halloween party. Bojack one day forgets that he was supposed to write a book, and is given a ghostwriter to help him write it. Bojack ends up having the hots for his ghostwriter, Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie). But later finds out that she is dating his rival Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins). The entire first season revolves around Bojack trying to have his book written while also trying to split up Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter. And, much like Sir Mix-A-Lot, I cannot lie that it was a hard watch at first. Most of it was the character of Bojack himself. He is incredibly unlikable in the first season.

But the more you watch and the further you get into the series, it shortly becomes clear that that’s the point. The show quickly becomes less of the Hollywoo entertain spoof it was advertised as, and more about how people change for better or worse and the factors that lead to it. In Bojack’s case it was his career and the pressures of his family upbringing. But even further later on, you even see why THAT happened and how his mom and dad became the people that shaped Bojack. But Bojack isn’t the only person who grows, all of the main 5 cast have episodes that are centered around them and how they grow and develop. No one starts the show and ends in the same place.

But the show also had some of the best writing of any show on television. Not just in terms of dialogue and how the characters interact with each other. The jokes in this show are incredible and clearly took a lot of planning to make happen. The alliteration, analogies, metaphors, cultural reference and puns are incredible. This is the only show, that I know of, that has a scene where Beyoncé slips and injured herself on several dollar bills, it becomes a major news headline and the back and forth between anchor and reporter goes through mentioning some her biggest hits. And that is just one of many instances of how it is a cleverly written show.

The show also gets experimental with its animation sometimes as well. There’s a whole episode, “Stupid Piece of Sh*t,” that goes back and forth between the normal animation and Bojack’s inner thoughts which are more abstract and rougher. It also works at showing how people with inner turmoil and anxiety think. But they even do episodes that keep the traditional style of animation, but mess with the show’s formula. “Fish Out of Water,” takes place with no dialogue except for the intro and outro. The rest is all ambient music and Bojack interacting with an undersea world. And I have to talk about, “Free Churro,” which is now the first time I’ve actually mentioned the word churro on here. “Free Churro,” is probably the most well known episode of the series since it is just a 20 minute monologue. The entirety of the episode is Bojack delivering a eulogy for his recently deceased mom. You can feel the passion and struggles that Bojack has and his resentment, but in a weird way love, for his mom. Will Arnett actually won an Annie Award for his performance in this episode, and it was rightfully deserved.

And while it may seem lighthearted on the surface, it goes to many dark places as well. The show tackles a plethora of heavy handed issues that it doesn’t take lightly. Things like anxiety, regret, depression, sexism, gun control, power, loss and guilt are some of the issues tackled. One of my favorite episodes is one that deals with writers block and how internal struggles can cause issues with coming up with a single sentence. While at the same time showing that it can also lead to writing something you enjoy, though you may not realize it at first. It’s the sense of melancholy that gives the show it’s true brilliance in that while bad things will always happen, it helps to try to find the positive. Even something as bad as physically abusing someone ends up causing Bojack to finally go to rehab. It’s an uncomfortable scene, but it something that can happen and there is some form of good that comes from it since it causes Bojack to finally get the help he needs.

Bojack Horseman in a way is a show that everyone needs to see, but no one wanted. It gives an introspective look at the world and people in general and shows that people, no matter how they may seem on the outside, are dealing with a lot of different things. It also shows that while bad people can become good, they are still able to fall back into bad patterns and no one is ever truly fixed. There’s a great analogy in the last season of a type of Japanese pottery where they break the pottery and reassemble the pieces and glue them back together with gold. And while it can look pretty, at the end of the day it is still broken. And that sums up these characters, and also us as everyday people as well. We are all broken in some way, and while we may seem like we’re okay, we’re still broken. Together, but still broken. It’s a good analogy and sums up the brilliance that Bojack Horseman has. It’s a show that I highly recommend watching .

Also Character Actress Margo Martindale is the best character on the show, and you can’t convince me otherwise.

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