One of the things I look for in a show is realism where you would least expect it; little aspects of society and humanity that shine through and assert themselves in character development and plot. Bojack Horseman, called “the most empathetic show on television” by the Guardian, provided me with just that and more. Despite their universe including all kinds of species, comic reoccurring motifs, and Being able to see yourself and relate to this show is a bit of a hit or miss. On the upper hand, identifying that problems on any scale often have similar roots and similar symptoms across all people and animals is a top tier revelation. On the lower hand, you have to admit that you share toxic qualities with these depressed, anxious, workaholic, all-around flawed characters. I found myself unable to tear my eyes away from all six seasons of Bojack Horseman because I had to know how the writers of the show resolve the trauma in the series. Is trauma a valid justification for being a shit person? To what degree is unhealthy behaviour towards friends and loved ones redeemable? How far does childhood trauma have a grip on us in adulthood?
It was obvious the people making Bojack Horseman had a deep grasp on the human condition, and I needed to know their opinion on the characters so that I could know their opinion on me. Whether or not you see yourself and your bad habits somewhere in Bojack Horseman, it is undeniable that the show does a fantastic job at picturing the human condition and displaying a plot progression far from predictable. That spontaneity of the show is exactly what makes it so novel. We’re not chasing fairy tales and happy endings here. We are dealing with the realistic consequences of surviving.
Diane’s relationship with Mr.Peanutbutter lasting so long
Boy, I could see this break-up coming from a mile away. I am sure we all felt that Mr.Peanutbutter was not right for Diane from the moment we found out they were an item in season one. Diane, a social-justice heroine. Diane, the cynic. Diane, the introvert. There was just not one bit of their personalities that said they could make it in the long run. Mr.Peanutbutter was like a plaster for Diane’s childhood wound of never getting any attention or love from her family. She loved that he loved her, and that he was objectively sweet- the exact opposite to what she experienced until then, but they had completely different values and outlooks on life. From the beginning, I assumed their incompatibility and obvious relationship flaws would surface and become discussed openly in the first or second season. And then they got married. And divorced, and then screwed each other casually- until the end of season five.
Princess Carolyn’s relationship not working out with Ralph Stilton.
I personally loved Ralph Stilton. Despite him being a mouse, in both his demeanour and his species, he treated Princess Carolyn right. In fact, even up to their break-up, I felt that Princess Carolyn may have been too hard on him. When they both ended up going to the hospital to collect what they assumed to be Princess Carolyn’s new baby, I had really hoped they would take the baby home together. Alas, in an exact contrast to Diane who seeks to fill her heart with affection and a shallow sense of “being put together” Princess Carolyn knows what she wants. She can’t sit down, she let herself rest- she is always thinking about what is next. She doesn’t have time to feel safe in comfort and safe-bets, as her home environment taught her that she only has herself to depend on
.A consistent theme of huge dating age-gaps in Hollywood.
Everyone has a mental age, and often when one becomes famous or married, that age becomes stagnant. To elaborate on that conversation between Diane and random-extra-character-in-season-five, it is my experience that people do not age after they are no longer required to try. Likewise for someone with a fixed mindset, who cannot look at their flaws objectively, will likely stay stagnant at the age they decided there wasn’t much left to do for them (Bojack). I believe the statement that the show was making in regard to this, is that a lot of famous people are not held to the same level of criticism that the rest of the world is. Even if they are faced with criticism, they can brush it off as “haters” and are not required to self-reflect or rise to any occasion. These people will then find it difficult to maintain a relationship with a mature, and responsible partner because they will not want to face these realities. The result is heads in the sand, people dating younger partners who they can keep up the illusion of elevation and charm without the realistic work it takes to be a grown-up.
Bojack’s resemblance to his father.
In season 6, when Bojack breaks into his old home and nearly drowns himself in the pool, we are taken to a reunion of the dead. Every character that had some deep significance to Bojack and then departed from life before he was present — except for his father. Instead, we meet The Secretariat filling in for his father and being the kind of role model that Bojack had always wanted. As much as he had frustrations towards his mother, even she was invited to his hallucination. Bojack’s father did not only fail to be the kind of dad he needed in his life, like his mother, but Butterscotch Horseman also did not have any redeemable qualities in his son’s eyes — up until the day he died. Despite that, Bojack is a spitting image of Butterscotch’s dysfunctions; replicating his father’s attitude towards life. He became the dead-beat, obsessed over his shitty work to an undeserved height of arrogance, refusing to look forward, irresponsibly doing and saying whatever he wants under the influence of alcohol. This is an eerie wake-up call to remind us, that many times, we become exactly what we hate most.
Bojack not redeeming himself
Finally, the ending of Bojack Horseman. There were so many chances throughout the six seasons of this show for Bojack to redeem himself. As time passed and Bojack compounded on countless mistakes and hurtful lies, it became harder and harder to justify a happy ending for Bojack. Still, I’m sure I’m not the only person who was rooting for a happy ending for him. I wished someone (Diane) would just move in with him and throw away his pills, wash his vodka down the drain. I wished Hollyhock could see how hard he was trying, and how special she was to him. I wished everyone could be Princess Carolyn and support him through ridiculous, repetitive, hurtful behaviour— but alas that’s just not realistic. Instead, we ended with an open conversation. We ended with the hard to swallow pills that Bojack, would have to spend just as long as he did digging the hole to repair it.