As some of you may have guessed, I’m not a fan of culture. I like “cultures,” especially the kind made of bacteria, and of course, moldy cheese, sour beer, and tea someone left on the countertop for too long (the only good sweet tea) - but as far as culture goes, no sir, I do not like it.
So, the staff of PRF strapped me down and made me review various aspects of this shit-show. I hope you enjoy it.
Forget, for a moment, that nobody wants to make my shows based on unpopular loser and Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. It can be called Bojack Hosemann or Delbert Horsemann, your call, NETFLIX. If you work for Netflix, and are looking for a totally sweet addition to your amazing show, then call my agent. I represent myself.
Bojack Horseman is not like most TV. Most television is like a fish kill. You see, TV shows are not sustained by life and vibrancy, but rather the fecundity of decay, the cultural and financial capital they create is held within their bloated bodies, and when they die they release this into the shallow waters around them.
Can we go further with this metaphor? I’d like to.
No? Fine. It involves a sewer of fascism. So, yeah, anyway. Bojack Horseman.
Bojack Horseman is about things. It’s about a character that does things that continue to matter throughout the show. This is one way in which I have noticed animated series have a leg up on live-action TV lately. Shows like The Venture Brothers and Bojack Horseman are always ensuring that you’re paying attention - unlike their depressing, horrifically unfunny live action counterparts, which can only reward you for not paying attention. I know you how you met my mother. Through the dark necromantic magic of PLOT BULLSHIT.
But - if you’re paying attention to a well written show like Bojack Horseman, you’ll see tiny things appear again and again, characters from episodes passed (or last season) will be written back in, the tiny things that you are about are your reward for watching the show, not your punishment. (Clearly, Arrested Development is NOT on that list) Tiny things are wrong in the background. T-shirts are weird. Character names are animal puns, sometimes subtle, sometimes not, Whale Olbermann.
Bojack Horseman is about a lot of things. It’s about depression. Ennui. Nihilism. Stuff that needs a horse-headed celebrity and a wonderful voice cast, able to pontificate at length in order to convey the way in which these high minded concepts intersect with the daily grind.
People may wonder “do you like TV at all, given the past reviews?”
I do. I like Bojack Horseman. I do like Doctor Who, too, do not misconstrue my review. Read through it anew! But Bojack is a delight. It is a dark delight at times, bringing up quotes like "I don't think I believe in 'deep down'. I think that all you are is just the things that you do." - it comes past the cheese and sleaze of most TV. It has a philosophical bent I’ve called ‘grim optimism’ or ‘optimistic nihilism.’
For instance, to quote Bojack: “You know, sometimes I feel like I was born with a leak, and any goodness I started with just slowly spilled out of me, and now it's all gone. And I'll never get it back in me. It's too late. Life is a series of closing doors, isn't it?” - touching on the way that depression and cynicism can feel. The characters in this cartoon share a lot with caricature - the exaggerations and missing parts accentuate a whole that is more than a realistic character could be.
This is the same trick of weird fiction, of fantastical satire. Bojack Horseman brings that same touch that geniuses such as Terry Pratchett could bring to fantasy novels - that making things weird, out of the ordinary, comedic, lets us be more comfortable with them than we are with a more frank discussion, lets us put our cards on the table, lets them be interpreted as the episodes play across the screen.
Like the previously reviewed Doctor Who, Bojack Horseman asks the question, “Am I a good person?” Unlike the sci-fi spectacular, there is no clear answer here. And if there was a leaning, it would be that Bojack is not. We’re charged with following his trajectory nonetheless, and it is not a cheap one nor an easy one.
Mr. Peanutbutter sums up television in one pithy quote: “The universe is a cruel, uncaring void. The key to being happy isn’t the search for meaning, it’s to just keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense and eventually, you’ll be dead.”
Keep watching TV, folks! May I suggest Bojack Horseman?