Bojack Horseman is a Netflix original comedy about a washed-up celebrity horse dealing with depression. Netflix canned the series in its sixth season despite being one of its most successful shows.
"Six years is a very healthy run for a TV show. Frankly, I'm amazed we got this far." — Raphael Bob Waksberg
Popular TV shows like The Office, Family Guy, and a million, more reuse ideas, make shameless callbacks and simplify their characters to the point of self-parody as they try to stay relevant. On the other hand, Bojack Horseman's cancellation saved the show from that trap. Show cancellation sometimes leads to bad blood between the showrunner and the production company. But this is not the case for Bojack. While the cancellation was earlier than expected, showrunner Raphael Bob-Waksberg felt no ill will towards Netflix as a result.
A lot of Netflix original shows do not get renewed for a second season. This is because Netflix only renews shows that have a large enough audience. Luckily Bojack Horseman came out when there were no other competitors. This allowed a lot of people (including me) to fall in love with the show.
Why I Love Bojack Horseman
The Characters Are Dynamic
The characters in Bojack Horseman transform into different people as the show develops. For example, Princess Carolyn (voiced by Amy Sedaris) goes from a hardworking career gal who enables her clients' degeneracy to a mother and a wife. You can see her growth over time.
Likewise, the title character, Bojack, changes significantly. He goes from a depressed, spiraling addict who drags his friends down with him, to a college theater professor trying (and failing) to atone for his past.
The characters are like shattered pottery, beautiful even in their flaws. We know Bojack Horseman is not a great person, but we can't help but watch his brokenness.
The Show Satirizes American Media
Bojack Horseman criticizes the way American media sensationalizes stories about celebrities and their antics, instead of doing investigative journalism about societal problems.
In Season 5, Episode 12 during a newscast, a story about U.S. warcrimes is relegated to the news ticker while the main segment is about people protesting Henry Fondle (Sex Robot/CEO of WhatTimeIsItRightNow.com) after being wrongly accused of sexual harassment.
The show is a shattered reflection of our world. Distorted in some places but scarily accurate in others.
The show also offers a nuanced look at the nature of people. American media views people as either good or bad; Bojack Horseman, however, defies these simple categories.
"It is very easy to see "bad guys" and say, "That is a bad guy," but I think the truth is more complicated and it does a disservice to us as a society to write off bad men and reward good men." — Raphael Bob Waksberg
The Show Takes Mental Health Seriously
Bojack Horseman is not a light comedy or a soapy drama to numb your mind after a hard day. It is a dark comedy that tackles many social issues like depression, addiction, and sexual misconduct.
As a child (...uh...foal?), Bojack was neglected and emotionally abused by his two unloving parents. Likewise, his friend Diane, the true black sheep of her family, was never understood by her parents or brothers. While Bojack tries to numb himself with alcohol and meaningless sex, Diane tries to fix societal problems through investigative journalism.
Again, the characters are beautiful in their flaws, similar to works of Japanese kintsugi, an artform that involves fixing broken pottery with gold. Bojack and Diane are like the fractured pottery; they are just people trying to find some beauty in the midst of chaos.
Bojack Horseman is for anyone who might be interested in watching a witty comedy that provides a satirical deconstruction of American media and an accurate depiction of mental health issues. Characters in other comedies are the same episode after episode, season after season. In Bojack Horseman, however, characters grow as the show develops.
If you're interested in witty satire featuring characters that grow and break and heal, then Bojack Horseman is for you.