Title: BoJack Horseman
Release Dates: 2017
Number of Episodes: 12
The season 3 finale of BoJack Horseman put the series at a crossroads, where the lead’s characters selfish and self-destructive behavior was on the verge of making the show unbearable to watch, but on the other hand a show about a “reformed” BoJack wouldn’t be interesting to watch. The series creators have done a good job of putting BoJack on a patch to recovery while not ignoring the lasting harm he has done to his relationships. For this reason, the series feels more like several recurring stories focused on the lead characters rather than one narrative. The show creators emphasize this decision by not even BoJack appear in the first episode of the season.
BoJack’s story involves the arrival of a young horse girl, Hollyhock, who believes BoJack is her biological father and wants his help finding her mother (since she already has 8 loving adoptive dads). At the same time, BoJack must take in his deteriorating mother Beatrice despite his unhidden antipathy and resentment toward her. Mr. Peanutbutter decides to run for governor and the depiction of the clueless celebrity stumbling into electoral success seems all too real to be funny nowadays, and leads into the series’ hamfisted attempts in political humor related to gun violence and fracking. Luckily, the story takes a turn mid-season to exploring the effects of the election, and Mr. Peanutbutter’s way of life in general on Diane and their marriage. Princess Carolyn attempts to find success in her business and settle down with Ralph, but runs into heartbreaking roadblocks. Todd has less of his own storyline through the series, appearing as a supporting character to the other storylines, but does provide some great representation for asexual people as he tries to learn more about his identity. Later, he becomes involved in one of his crazy Todd plans involving clown-dentists, a recurring joke that is far funnier than it has any right to be.
While there’s nothing as remarkable as Season 3’s “Fish Out of Water” with its mostly wordless underwater scenario, there are some standouts in this season for storytelling and animation artistry. “The Old Sugarman Place” sees BoJack returning to his family’s summer home and befriending a crotchety dragonfly, while flashbacks of his mother’s childhood play superimposed with the current events on the show. This develops a theme of generational depression that continues in “Stupid Piece of Sh*t” narrated by Bojack’s internal monologue constantly berating himself for his failures and slights. “Time’s Arrow” is depicted through Beatrice’s decaying memories, filling in the story of her unhappy childhood and early marriage, and providing Hollyhock’s history as well.
Ok, so I’ve gotten this far and haven’t noted that this is a show where animals intermingle with humans in scathing satire of the Hollywood lifestyle filled with visual puns. But really, I think BoJack Horseman may be the most affecting and honest show about the human condition on “television” today.