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TV That Matters: “BoJack Horseman”

By Christina Murphy COLUMNIST

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This past Wednesday, I felt the need to quell my midweek lull, so I decided to indulge in some mindless, Netflix-watching and I gave their new cartoon “BoJack Horseman” a shot.

In the first 10 minutes, I watched a horse give a Charlie-Sheen-bad interview with Charlie Rose, and a horse blankly going through the motions of life in LA while a jazzy theme played during the show’s utterly gloomy intro. I saw a horse make a vodka and pill smoothie for breakfast and check out videos of himself from his prime in the ‘90s. Finally, when I watched a horse break up with a pink cat because he didn’t want to have her horse-cat babies, I closed my computer. This show had managed to bum me out more than the day after Christmas.

After some passionate convincing from a very pro-BoJack friend of mine, I gave it a second try. Once I made it through the brutal pilot, I became hooked and would not let myself see the sunlight until I had finished the 12-episode saga of “BoJack Horseman.”

The show explores the seemingly never-ending loneliness and self-destructive behavior of BoJack, America’s most beloved sitcom star from the ‘90s.

Twenty years have passed, but BoJack is still trying to recreate the joy he had while on his show, “Horsin’ Around.”

The idea behind the work resembles that of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” if the American dream could be defined as having a top-network sitcom and if Jay Gatsby was a horse. Okay, maybe not – scratch that last idea.

The show is a heavy satirical criticism on the vapid wasteland that is Hollywood, or “Hollywoo,” as it becomes renamed in the show after BoJack steals the “D” from the city’s identifiable emblem.

The cartoon exists in an alternate reality where animals and humans co-exist as equals. The show has some of the best animal personification I’ve seen, as most of the animal characters very subtly and hilariously hold on to their many animalistic characteristics. Like how Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), a cat, chases a dangling mouse as she runs on the treadmill and drinks catnip flavored tea. It’s also worth noting that the main characters, who are portrayed as animals, appear to be bloodsucking Hollywood types, while the characters with real heart are humans.

I stand by opinion that the pilot episode is dull and ill-conceived, but after the set-ups are made clear, the plot unfolds and you become engrossed in the show as you begin to spiral down BoJack’s pit of despair with him.

The plot revolves around Bojack Horseman’s attempt to re-enter the public eye through the release of his autobiography. The only problem is BoJack (Will Arnet) has no motivation to do anything whatsoever.

Under the pressure of Penguin Publishing House – which is actually run by a penguin and is on the verge of going bankrupt because print media is just barely continuing to be a thing – he hires a ghostwriter, Diane (Allison Brie). His work with the human Diane is cathartic for him, and their relationship begins to blossom as the show progresses.

Meanwhile, at home BoJack has to deal with his co-dependent permanent houseguest, Todd (Aaron Paul); his pestering and wildly insecure feline agent; Princess Carolyn; and frequent run-ins with his arch nemesis, who is also dating Diane, Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Thompkins).

The takeaway of the show is that no one is happy, but at least you’re not alone. BoJack wants people to love him again; Diane wants to make a difference; Princess Carolyn wants to achieve a healthy work/life balance. Even the guy writing the news ticker on MSNBSea wishes he could have written a novel.

“BoJack Horseman” is bizarre and dark but it’s well worth the watch.

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