Title: BoJack Horseman
Release Dates: 2020
Number of Episodes: 12
There are a lot of reasons why people would want to avoid a cartoon about anthropomorphic animal satirizing Hollywood excess, but I’m increasingly coming to believe that they would be missing the best show on “television” today. The fifth season of BoJack Horseman relies on the audience’s accrued knowledge of the characters and their situations for a somewhat quieter and subtler form of storytelling. At least by BoJack Horsemanem standards.
Every season of BoJack Horseman has at least one highly experimental episode. In season 3, the nearly dialogue-free “Fish Out of Water” showed BoJack trying to navigate an undersea world, while last season’s “The Old Sugarman Place” explored generational depression by having scenes from BoJack’s grandparents’ life play out simultaneously with BoJack’s story. This season provides it’s most affecting episode with very little flash. Instead “Free Churro” features Will Arnett voicing BoJack’s episode-long monologue as a delivers the eulogy at his mother’s funeral. The very next episode, “INT. SUB” is narrated by a married couple, a therapist and a mediator wonderfully voiced by Issa Rae and Wanda Sykes, using ridiculous fake names and descriptions to protect their clients’ identities. Thus BoJack becomes BoBo the Angsty Zebra and Princess Carolyn is more surrealistically visualized as Tangled Fog of Pulsating Yearning In The Shape Of A Woman. The inherent silliness masks the darker plot unfolding which makes it hit all that much harder when the conclusion is shown with the “real” characters.
As typical of previous seasons, each of the main characters has a personal storyline woven into the series arc. BoJack curiously feels like a supporting character early in the season, but the seeds of his story are subtly dropped into those stories that come to fruition in the back end of the season. Namely, after injuring himself doing a stunt, BoJack becomes addicted to painkillers and increasingly is unable to distinguish his real life and his character on the detective drama “Philbert.”
Diane searches for her own identity after divorcing Mr. Peanutbutter, particularly well explored in “The Dog Days Are Over” where she visits Vietnam and struggles with being fully American but looking Vietnamese (a meta commentary on the fact that Diane is voiced by the white actor Alison Brie). Meanwhile, Mr. Peanutbutter has a much younger new girlfriend and begins to get insight on why his three wives outgrew him, particularly in “Mr. Peanbutter’s Boos” where scenes from four different Halloween parties (with four different dates) are intercut.
Princess Carolyn seeks to adopt a child while continuing to produce “Philbert” and put out everyone else’s fires. For the first time we get her backstory, including flashbacks to her childhood in North Carolina. Todd’s asexuality is explored in an odd sex comedy farce parody, and after realizing that a relationship with Yolanda isn’t working, seeks to rekindle a relationship with Emiliy. Being Todd this involves a wacky scheme to build a sex robot which becomes a recurring gag that is the one big dud of this season.