'Bojack' is back with more timely social commentary
It’s September again, which means it’s time for another 12-episode season of Netflix’s animated smash hit, “BoJack Horseman,” the tale of an eponymous anthropomorphic horse actor living in the world of Hollywoo (yes, without the D), a place where talking animals and normal humans live nonchalantly amongst each other. And like last season, creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg has proven once again that he can balance crippling depression and comedic antics with near flawlessness.
Picking up from where we left off, BoJack (Will Arnett) is the star of a detective show called “Philbert.” As time goes on, demons from his past rear their heads and BoJack asks himself the age-old question: “Am I a good person or a bad person?” In fact, a major theme across the board this season is personal introspection.
At the start of the season, carefree human Todd (Aaron Paul) is still figuring out his place in the world in his usual Todd way. His arcs have always offered a lighter side to the series, and here was no exception. From being thrust into an executive-level position at a streaming company after applying to be a janitor to finally building a sex robot that becomes the CEO of said company, Todd proves himself to be the most reliable and lovable character on the show.
BoJack’s manager, a cat named Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), is still hoping to have a baby this season and this time is considering adoption. In the stand-out episode “The Amelia Earhart Story,” we see the source of that desire: When she was a simple country girl in North Carolina, she got knocked up by the heir to a very wealthy family and was almost married into it, but had a miscarriage and instead decided to go to school in California (though the family’s wealth was predicated on answering machine tapes, so perhaps it was for the best).
In the same vein as last season’s hilarious episode on gun control, this season excellently tackles the #MeToo movement and the hypocrisy of the film industry, where disgraced celebrities are cast out only to be welcomed back just a few years later. And while ousting a problematic actor from “Philbert” is easy work for Diane (Alison Brie), confronting BoJack about his past – like when he almost slept with the daughter of an old friend – is much more difficult.
One could say BoJack hits his lowest point this season, becoming severely addicted to painkillers after an accident on set and eventually losing control as he confuses the fictional world of “Philbert” with reality. The answer Diane eventually offers him for the question of whether he’s a good person is that the question itself is flawed – people are people who do bad things and good things, and sometimes we do more bad than good and more good than bad. By the end of the season, Diane, even though she still hates BoJack for his actions, takes him to rehab, and he accepts that he needs help to become better.
However, the most flawed character on the show arguably isn’t BoJack – it’s Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), a very outwardly happy dog and former rival of BoJack’s. In the episode “Mr. Peanutbutter’s Boos,” we see three of his past relationships play out to the same conclusion: His delightfulness disguises his inability to listen to others’ needs, causing each and every one of his ex-wives, including Diane, to turn from cheerful to cynical by the end. And while every other character on the show grows somewhat this season, Mr. Peanutbutter falls right back into his old habits, instinctively hiding his affair with Diane from his current girlfriend and instead proposing to her on the spot.
Mr. Peanutbutter and BoJack, therefore, aren’t all that different: While the former is eternally gleeful and the latter is horribly depressed, they are both trapped in a cycle of self-destruction. And while BoJack is now working toward breaking that cycle, the former just drags another unsuspecting, idealistic woman into a relationship based on impulsive grand gestures.
All in all, BoJack Horseman’s fifth season is yet another “sensational season of television,” and the binge-watchers of Netflix can definitely expect another like it next year.
photo courtesy of Netflix