Netflix Review: BoJack Horseman (Season 6) – All Good Things…

One of my favorite shows on television came to an end and it was a bit painful.

SUMMARY 

Just watch the damned thing. I’ve been telling you how awesome it was since I started this blog. The highlights are: 

  • BoJack (Will Arnett) doesn’t really get a happy ending, but since he’s a rich celebrity he doesn’t get the punishing ending that he probably deserves, either. Even in fiction, justice stops at a certain tax bracket.
  • Diane (Alison Brie) doesn’t write the book she wants, but instead writes a fun young adult series and finds a wonderful partner.
  • Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) fails to fix the Hollywoo sign, but also finally gets past his fear of being alone.
  • Todd (Aaron Paul) gets dropped off in Alaska after… wait, no, he gets a girlfriend named Maude (Echo Gillette), reconnects with his family, and ends up giving BoJack good advice.
  • Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) gets a happy ending and dammit, she deserved it.
  • Zach Braff is still dead.
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This is simultaneously the most and least diverse cast ever.

END SUMMARY

The first thing I say here is going to be personal. If you want the review without my whining, skip down to the next heading.

Because if I don’t, that means that all the damage I got isn’t good damage, it’s just damage. I have gotten nothing out of it and all of those years I was miserable was for nothing.

That’s probably the first line that broke me in the last 8 episodes. Since by this point the majority of my following hasn’t been with me since my original series of posts, many of you might not know that this blog’s very existence was borne out of my failure to create anything meaningful with my cancer. At first, I wanted to write the great American novel before I died at 25. Instead, I discuss the meaning of a cartoon horse’s impact on my life at 32. A few rounds of chemo and enough painkillers to make me ignore the fact that I had more cancer than spinal column pretty much eliminated my ability to write a paragraph, let alone a novel. 7 years later, my suffering has not given me any insight into the soul of mankind or even my own, it’s just left me chronic pain that I try to channel into finding the beauty or meaning in other, better, people’s art. So, hearing someone else say that pain doesn’t mean anything if it isn’t channeled into some grand work was a little rough, to say the least. It crystallized something that I’ve tried to avoid for a while, that I went through something that most people never get to talk about later and yet I never managed to use that experience for anything other than these reviews. Then I realized that having a scene that so perfectly relates to and encapsulates my feelings on something, despite being based around an entirely different experience, is exactly why I love spending time dissecting media. That said, I’m going to try and work on some other, more creative stuff in the future, because maybe I’ll find the words one day. In the meantime, let’s talk about this show.

THE REVIEW

BoJack Horseman always went straight for the jugular when it came to harsh truths, but damn, did they decide to lay some on this final season. After we spent the first half of the season watching BoJack finally start to actually change for the better, I thought this meant that BoJack would end up finally taking responsibility for all of the things that he had done. Instead, while he does at least deal with it more honestly than he would have before, he still tries to squirm out of real accountability. Princess Carolyn, ever the companion, even tries to help him by getting him to do a television interview. He blames his addictions and his trauma for all of the things he has done, including falling back on the idea that addicts aren’t really in control of their own actions. When he does his first interview confessing to a number of the things that he’s done, he’s hailed for his honesty. He gets to put forth his own narrative in which he’s the victim and people love him for it. 

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No one wants to look deeper until they’re forced.

Then, the addiction takes over and he agrees to go back for a second interview. The show less-than-subtly affirmed that ultimately BoJack will always be an addict and he’s not just addicted to drugs or alcohol, he’s addicted to the love he feels when he’s the focus. BoJack had absolutely nothing compelling him to do a second interview and no one would have blamed him for not doing it, but he couldn’t resist a spotlight. Then, rather than getting to put forth his own narrative, BoJack is confronted with the objective facts about what he’s done. Moreover, he’s forced to confront that he has a very bad pattern with women. Even when it’s pointed out to him that he slept with a woman he considered to be his own daughter, gave her the heroin that killed her, avoided calling an ambulance which might have saved her in order to protect himself, tried to sleep with the daughter of an ex-lover that rejected him, and slept with the president of his own fan club (twice), BoJack tries to deny that he was the one with the power in these situations. Finally, though, he does start to get it, just a little, in time for everyone to hate him.  It’s brilliant that they spent the first half of the season getting us to empathize with BoJack by showing us more of his background and his efforts to get better, only to brutally remind us that BoJack has done terrible, terrible things and hurt many people in the process.

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Biscuits means business.

That makes it even harder when he finds out that Hollyhock has, apparently, decided to keep herself out of his destructive sphere, resulting in him giving up on his sobriety. Then, he finds out that the first thing that he thinks set him on this path, betraying his friend Herb, was always his decision, rather than something he was forced to do. That’s the true last straw and leads to BoJack’s near death and imprisonment. 

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And a hallucination of his father-figure as his actual father or vice-versa.

I admit that, at the end of the series, BoJack doesn’t really suffer as much as I thought he would. In Season 5, one of the biggest themes was that people should not project themselves onto broken characters and use them to justify their own bad decisions. I thought that meant that in the end BoJack would finally be forced to fully take responsibility for his own actions and learn that the only real freedom is when you’re no longer a prisoner to your own guilt and regret. Instead, BoJack goes to jail for fourteen months and that’s apparently enough for everyone to move on. Princess Carolyn even indicates he’s going to be able to restart his career when he gets out. That felt like a cheat, but it’s also kind of an accurate depiction of how celebrity works. Mel Gibson and Mark Wahlberg got to do a movie together recently and both of them have convictions involving hitting people and using the n-word. They never even try to re-address the fact that Jeremiah Whitewhale is taking over the country with impunity and actively murdering people using his billionaire status. Still, at least at the end BoJack’s acknowledging that he has to be responsible for his own behavior. 

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And acknowledges it was wrong to demand others to do it for him.

Over the last few years, this show consistently showed itself to be one of the best-written and most impressively animated series on television. I’m going to miss it. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – BoJack Horseman (Season 6: Part 1) (Spoiler-Free) – Time for Me to Speculate Wildly

BoJack Horseman returns for the first part of its final season and holy hell do I want to see the rest of it.

SUMMARY

There’s no summary. Just go watch the damned thing. I waited a month to post this, but I still want you all to watch it.

The characters are BoJack (Will Arnett), Mister Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie), and Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul). The creator is Raphael Bob-Waksberg. There are too many guest stars to name.

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Surprisingly, the cat and dog get along great.

END SUMMARY

BoJack Horseman is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen and yet I fully admit that I didn’t enjoy most of the first season. The thing about the show is that it started out defying the usual tropes of sitcoms by having nothing in the show ever really go away. Things didn’t reset in this world the way they do, for the most part, in animated sitcoms like The Simpsons or Family Guy. Typically the only things that are permanent in sitcoms are when someone dies or gets married or marries a ghost. Hell, some shows write out major characters (like Chuck Cunningham) and then later pretend they don’t exist.

Not BoJack.

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Hell, they even remember Margo Martindale… you know, from that thing.

When stuff happens here, it lingers. They sometimes use the audience’s familiarity with sitcom tropes about resets and lost plot points to make us think that something that happened has been dropped, only for it to be revealed that it wasn’t. Instead, BoJack’s fame and wealth and sometimes pure dumb luck keep him from suffering the consequences at the time. We’ve seen BoJack do wonderful things (like returning a lost seahorse child) and terrible things (like leading his friend Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal) to start using drugs after she got clean, resulting in her fatal overdose), and sometimes it felt like those things were forgotten. However, this season makes it clear that they weren’t. Moreover, these things are being remembered just as BoJack starts to remember them, because, as he puts it “I remember everything. I’m sober now.” 

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And it ages him 25 years rather quickly. 

That’s what this show appears to be setting up for: The great sobering of BoJack Horseman the show. A big theme of last season was addressing the issue of whether or not people should be looking up to BoJack (or his character, Philbert) or using his depression and self-abuse as an excuse to feel better about their own personal failures. While ultimately BoJack acknowledged that he needed to be better and going to rehab, there’s still a question of accountability. At the end of last season Diane gave BoJack a talk about how there are no good guys or bad guys, there’s just guys and that believing that you’re bad is just an excuse to be bad. He counters that he’s asking to be held accountable and she says that “…no one is going to ‘hold you accountable.’ You need to take responsibility for yourself.” However, now that BoJack is ready to do just that, the world seems to be setting up to take him to task. It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out, but it really seems like they’re preparing to take down more than just their lead. They’re going to try and take down all the people that view him as something to emulate or something to use to excuse their own shitty behavior. I could be wrong, but as that would be the most amazing way to end a show this self-aware, I’m hoping that I’m not.

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His sister is about to have something repeated to her about him. Something bad.

They also seem to be building a parallel plot that I can’t quite figure out how it’s going to tie-in to the central narrative. A company called Whitewhale, run by a White Whale named Whitewhale (Stephen Root), has begun acquiring almost all of the companies in America and has begun murdering anyone that gets in their way (because Congress made murder legal for billionaires… despite that being a state crime and not a Federal crime in most cases). It could just be a set-up for a plot with Diane trying to take them down, but I am willing to bet heavily that there’s a joke pending involving “Ahab” and “Rehab” that is dependant on BoJack’s newfound taking of responsibility for himself being what finally forces the public to demand the same of all our celebrities. 

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He’s not an orca, but he’s a killer whale.

The end of the show kind of always had to be BoJack being destroyed. I mean, the opening sequence changes every season, but it always concludes with BoJack drowning and looking up through the pool as everyone looks down at him. Does that mean that he’s going to die at the end? Well, possibly. It wouldn’t shock me if the first shot of the last half of the last season is a tribute to Sunset Boulevard with BoJack lying in a pool narrating how he got to this point, only for it to be revealed that he’s now broke and cleaning pools for a living or something. I mean, with all this set-up, BoJack can’t be allowed to end without some form of consequences and BoJack has grown into the kind of person who will accept them. 

Either way, the show was amazing, and I’m so sad it’s ending, but also so glad that it existed. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.