Over the past 5 years Netflix has become a haven for programs that may be too bold or creative for network television. As a result numerous Netflix originals have received critical praise and recognition. Netflix allows the creators to stay true and honest to their visions, rather than censoring or controlling the content. One of the best examples of this and my personal favorite is BoJack Horseman.
For those unaware of the show’s premise, BoJack Horseman is a cartoon that centers upon the titular character, a washed up 90s has-been seeking relevance in a fictionalized Hollywood. What makes the show stand out is the fact that BoJack, and many other characters in the show, is an animal-human hybrid. BoJack (WIll Arnet), a horse, interacts with both humans and animals alike with no question or reference to the peculiarity. The ridiculousness of the format allows for a great satire on celebrity culture, incorporating many animal puns along the way. The humor is both intelligent and basic, able to appeal to a variety of people.
Similar to South Park or The Simpsons, BoJack Horseman is in no way intended for a young audience. Rather the show focuses upon very adult themes. For instance Bojack is a depressive alcoholic with a hauntingly traumatic childhood. These themes are carried throughout the show as BoJack struggles to find glory and the happiness he believes will come with it. Meanwhile he is surrounded by people capable of finding happiness and resents them for it. The depiction of depression in the show is honest and raw, unlike anything in circulation. The viewer is able to get a real sense of his disparity along with his earnest hope to find some form of relief. It is ironic that a cartoon about a horse depicts depression better than most other television.
While BoJack may be the titular character, many other characters often steal the spotlight. The cast is extremely talented with an array of supporting characters like Todd (Aaron Paul) BoJack’s slacker best friend, Princess Carolyn (Amy Seders) as BoJack’s feline agent, Diane (Allison Brie) a snarky ghost writer of BoJAck’s memoirs, and Mr. Penutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) a fellow has-been from BoJack’s past. Each character is a dynamic portrait of real people, each dealing with personal, deep-rooted issues.
BoJack Horseman is constantly battling between humor and depression, both themes often feeding into each other to create a profound, heartfelt narrative. The show constantly balances its themes successfully, so much so that I never felt it to be too dramatic or trying too hard to make a joke. BoJack is an unapologetic character, expecting others to simply take him as he is. The show itself follows the same formula, it does not try to emulate or make any profound statements, but rather it stays honest and transparent.