The Netflix Original Series “BoJack Horseman” may revolve around a world composed of animal characters, but its themes are entirely human. The TV show serves as a platform for comedy while contemplating the intricacies of the human mind through its characters, mainly its protagonist, BoJack Horseman, an actor who previously rose to fame in the 1990’s through the sitcom “Horsin’ Around.” And while the story develops in a simple, formulaic way, the insight “BoJack Horseman” entails through lighthearted humor is what makes the show addicting and what keeps viewers, or at least me, watching.
Bojack is introduced as a quarrelsome alcoholic in the first season, troubled by his lack of recognition and diseased with arrogance that he tries to resolve by venting to a journalist, Diane Nguyen, who is in the midst of writing BoJack’s memoir. Their fates seem to intertwine perfectly as a relationship emerges between the two characters due to their similarities of a dysfunctional family and their dedication to understand one another. It’s romance at full blossom, in all the ways viewers don’t expect it. BoJack & Diane don’t contextualize love through kisses and hugs, flowers and chocolates, but by breaking the superficial barrier between lovers of understanding and diving in deep to their past to understand each other’s mind and appreciate it, an epiphany of the true definition of love.
There’s a reason why “seem” is the operative word in the last paragraph, though, and that’s because Diane ends up marrying Mr. Peanutbutter, another famous television actor from the ’90s. She starts to drift away from BoJack’s self-deprecating personality as she adjusts to the limelight of Mr. Peanutbutter’s fame and aspirations to become governor in season four and finds a job at Girl Croosh, a website predominately for female bloggers who want to express their perspectives.
It’s a parody of everything “Los Angeles,” with its obsession with celebrities and the “Hollywood” sign. But just because “BoJack Horseman” is a cartoon doesn’t mean it’s always all laughs and smiles. By the end of its most recent season, Diane relates her marriage with Mr. Peanutbutter to a magic-eye poster. If you squint at it just right, the picture comes alive with surrealism and aesthetic. Still, Diane is tired of squinting and searching for meaning in a hopeless marriage.
Love isn’t always found in the easiest places, Mr. Peanutbutter being a cornerstone for likability in the “BoJack Horseman” universe; it’s blind, and the series sheds a light on this notion through the tumultuous development of Mr. Peanutbutter’s and Diane’s relationship.
But let’s get back to BoJack. Although it’s hard to love someone who doesn’t love themselves, BoJack turns the initial perceptions of his character into a determination to become a better person. He takes on the role of renown racing horse Secretariat, his childhood hero, in season two, proving dreams do come true.
Nevertheless, after being replaced by a holographic projection of himself because he skipped town to catch up with his old friend Charlotte, he realizes fantasies aren’t all they’re cut out to be. Yet this fact doesn’t deter BoJack’s grit to accomplish his goal, even if it’s through the completely unorthodox manner of running away to Michigan to his grandparents’ house in order to recount the nightmare that was his mother’s childhood.
Traumatic experiences seem to run in the family, BoJack’s mother haunted by the hellish reality of a son who prevented her from achieving her dreams, and BoJack himself enduring a childhood that was riddled with disdain for his very existence.
Hope prevails, however. Maybe that’s why the creators of BoJack Horseman spent all this time portraying the distraught nature of “animal” kind. The main character ends up bidding farewell to one of his co-stars from “Horsin’ Around,” despite the fact that he knew he’d be greeted with anguish, and attempts to patch up his friendship with Todd, a wandering asexual soul who previously sought shelter in BoJack’s house and is now experiencing success in his business ventures for clown dentistry. That’s not even giving BoJack much-needed praise for helping Hollyhock, his long-lost sister, discover who her mother is after countless weeks of rummaging through a multitude of ex-lovers, or rewarding him for seeing the light in the ideas of Princess Carolyn, his manager, not outright rejecting them like he might have done in season one.
“BoJack Horseman” is a journey into the human psyche of how people can change. Of course, BoJack still reaches for the occasional bottle. I mean, people have a right to be sad; it’s just human, or animal, in this case, nature. But BoJack becomes a beacon of hope for change by taking his friends and family into consideration and going out of his way to help and love others instead of pushing them away to wallow in alcohol and depression. He sheds his infamous self-pity for a newfound appreciation for the beauty and people around him. After all…
“Everyone deserves to be loved.”