Bojack Horseman – Why So Sad?

I watched the entirety of Netflix’s Bojack Horseman over the course of just a few days around this past Christmas.  My first impression of Bojack was that it was a pretty good satire with some very funny moments concerning Hollywood and the empty life of a vapid celebrity.  I watched the first few episodes with my sister and her husband and my sister described it as surprisingly human and very relatable.  As I watched the first few episodes, I failed to see the empathetic portion of the show that my sister described.  Sure Bojack was a sad character, but his selfishness and vanity have been portrayed many times before, particularly in shows concerning Hollywood.  Those first few episodes, though entertaining, failed to exhibit the show’s real strength, its drama and internal turmoil each character face.  So I was overjoyed when the later episodes and all of season two showed the show’s true intention: to be a funny drama with serious tragic pathos.

I was amazed and impressed by the drama displayed on a cartoon about an anthropomorphic horse who was a 90s sitcom star.  This “surprisingly human” element my sister mentioned is in full force in the second half of the first season and particularly in the fully realized second season.  Bojack is a comedy that deals with psychological issues and trauma and alcohol abuse and relationships with such honesty and grace.  I was truly taken aback by how deftly this “comedy” tackles these very relatable issues.  From Bojack’s verbally abusive mother to Diane’s feelings of unfulfillment, I was moved by many of these dramatic moments that were carried over from episode to episode.

This is a very smart show that isn’t afraid to handle topics not typically shown on television.  Like Netflix’s other comedy that really moved me, Master of None, Bojack is a show that covers sexual harassment, refugees, drug and alcohol abuse, and other heavy drama.  Bojack didn’t hold back from having its characters self-destruct and loathe their predicaments and lives.  Ultimately there is hope and the second season shows that forgiveness and understanding can solve problems, but the show wisely does not forgive its characters for all of their sins.

The show is ultimately sad and I found myself feeling empathy and pity for its lead character more than laughing, though I was continuously laughing at the drug-trip-filled episode from the first season (possibly the most entertaining episode yet).  When I first heard of the show and watched a couple advertisements for it I honestly have to say I wasn’t that impressed.  Some friends said the show was only okay, and so I never checked it out.  The only aspect of the show that thought I would ever be exposed to was the theme song because I’m a fan of Patrick Carney and The Black Keys.  I listened to the theme a lot after the show premiered, but, in a year and a half, I never gave the show a chance until I was chilling with my sister on a fateful Christmas.  I didn’t expect to ever watch it because of the ho-hum attitude towards the show, but I’m happy I eventually did.

I am very glad I gave this show a chance because I did find it relatable and was surprised by how emotive and human and real it felt.  Even if it is about an alcoholic horse who hasn’t done anything worthwhile in twenty years since starring in a show called Horsin’ Around.  I highly recommend this very funny (yes it is hysterical!) and ultimately very moving and tragic show.



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