Bojack Horseman has had such an odd trajectory as a television series. Debuting on Netflix in late 2014 in the same year as the second seasons of the then-Netflix juggernauts, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, Bojack Horseman looked from the outset, to be a fairly amusing but ultimately forgettable adult animated comedy. However, over it’s seven years on the platform, it has transformed from a tiny, small series looking set to be cancelled in a few seasons to become one of – and possibly the – greatest animated series of all time.
The series focuses on the lives in Hollywoo (named so because the “d” had fallen down), including title character, Bojack Horseman (voiced by Will Arnett), and his friends, Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie), Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) and Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul). Continuing on from the previous seasons, Bojack could possibly be getting comeuppance for his past actions as two reporters begins to investigate his various suspect behaviour.
Over the past 6 seasons, the show has always been very funny and witty, and these final 8 episodes of the series (released on Friday), are no exception. It manages to do this through it’s brilliant mocking of Hollywood and great pop culture references (one of the best from this season includes the line – “This situation is like a Christopher Nolan movie – woman are involved, but it’s really never about the women”), as well as it’s wonderful animal puns (this season includes a very quick joke about cats going up trees that’s very funny).
The really great thing about the series, however, is that it mixes its satire and humour with some really heartbreaking humanity (oddly enough, for a show primarily featuring anthropomorphic animals). This can sometimes extend into some downbeat, pessimistic and at times, outright depressing viewing, and it can be very hard to watch at times.
One of the central reasons of this is that the characters can be flawed, and at times, very unlikable. Although, from the outset, it looks like it is influenced by the classic adult animation series, The Simpsons and Archer, it has more in common than dark dramas like Mad Men and Breaking Bad (oddly enough as both star Aaron Paul), in it’s complicated, flawed, and anti-heroic lead characters.
The series also delves into all of the main characters’ tragic back-stories and upbringings, with Bojack feeling very much akin to Mad Men’s Don Draper in his heart-breaking childhood flashback to emotional abuse. However, the way in which the show is written never excuses Bojack or any of the other characters’ behaviour, but makes us understand them more.
One of the main reasons why it remains quite pessimistic viewing is that a lot of these characters never really grow or change. The series has flirted with characters arcs over the years, however, the show pulls back from showing that the characters actually change and develop. It does so in the season as we see Bojack attempt to change his life, becoming a acting teacher and helping young people learn to act, before he is brought back to his former ways of self-destructive and abusive behaviour. This can make for quite tiring viewing, but ultimately it does make it quite realistic. What’s great about the final episodes, however, it that they do flirt with some happier and more bittersweet endings for some characters, like Princess Carolyn, Todd and Diane.
The series has always been known for dealing with deep themes, and this season is no exception. This season continues to deal heavy themes, particularly mental illness and depression with both Bojack and Diane, and it is especially interesting this season seeing how Diane deals with anti-depressants, and how it changes her lifestyle.
This season also continues on do produce some stand-out singular episodes. The season (and by extension, the series)’s penultimate episode, “The View from Halfway Down” is the closest thing that the series comes to produce a perfect episode, as Bojack reunites with all his now deceased friends and family, and the episode showcases at it’s funny but melancholic best.
This season is also quite subversive in how it avoids complete closure. There are various plot threads that are left dangling and remain unanswered. The final few episodes avoid the usual television show cliche of various characters coming back for one farewell appearance – we never see old fan favourites like Bojack’s season 2 girlfriend Wanda, Princess Carolyn’s season 3 boyfriend, Ralph or Bojack’s season 5 co-worker, Gina ever again. It avoids closure to preach the final idea that sometimes in life, we don’t get complete closure, but we have to learn to live with it.
Overall, the final 8 episodes of Bojack Horseman really do deliver, and remain just as daringly brilliant and heartbreaking as usual. I’m sure that over the years, Bojack Horseman will remain just as popular and acclaimed, and will be held in high regard as one of Netflix’s best offerings and one of the best animated series of all time.