I’m back! And it’s a good one.
Let me start off by saying this: Bojack Horseman is not the show you think it is. Beyond the clichéd indie-comedy joke format of its trailer and the anthropomorphic animals populating its bizarre world, the show provides its audience with an existential trip that digs deeper than the traditional animated comedy and manages to infuse its characters with some very real, very complex human emotions. Somewhere along the twelve-episode span of its first season, the writers transitioned away from the pure comedy focus and honed in on the true meat of the Bojack story – his aggressive and apathetic upbringing, his deep-rooted insecurities with being washed-up, and the impact that has on the people in his life. And while Bojack is the namesake of our story, most of the script’s overarching themes involve revelations on the feelings, motivations, and upbringings of all of our characters, and how actions that seem inconsequential to us may have long-standing impacts on those who look up to us, whether we see ourselves as role-models or not.
That’s not to say that the show isn’t funny. The script is rife with quick-shots, punch-lines, one-liners, and digs on popular culture, and the animation is littered with visual gags, often playing with the notion of a world populated by large anthropomorphic animals. At the same time, the show doesn’t become a caricature of itself or fish for laughs; jokes will come and go with little affair, and episodes will likely require at least two viewings to catch all of them. Like Will Arnett’s most well-known comedy hit, Arrested Development, a lot of the situations that arise are completely ludicrous and go much further than is expected of them, and yet the show is able to build a real world that the audience can feel a connection with. This is the true value of Bojack Horseman – its ability to ground itself in its incredibly detailed and relatable character sketches and expose the internal workings of its cast.
Between the show’s star-studded cast of voice actors and its lackadaisical art style, Bojack Horseman has a lot of room to ride on the coattails of established animated comedy greats and deliver cheap laughs to satisfy its audience. Instead, and perhaps due to the freedom of being a Netflix Original, it provides a fresh, unique experience that is sometimes heartwarming, sometimes heart-dropping, often surreal, and always funny. The artists, writers, actors, musicians, and producers have all come together to build something uniquely and unmistakably “Bojack,” and it would be a shame to let the premise of the show prevent you from watching it through.