Bojack Horseman gets back into the television world in season five as he stars on his first show since Horsin’ Around (a very famous tv show in the 90’s). His new tv show, Philbert directly parallels his actual life; Philbert is a character who does terrible things played by Bojack, a character who also does terrible things, and yet they’re both portrayed as deserving empathy. After an on-set accident, Bojack combines his alcoholism with prescription painkillers, and he begins to confuse being on Philbert with his real life, to the point where the two become one. Arguably the darkest season yet, it references current trends and movements as it toes a precarious line between too real and way too real.
If you can make it past the first few episodes of Bojack Horseman, you will discover a “comedy” that is one of the smartest and deepest available for streaming. As an animated show, it could easily be put into a category with The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, or Rick and Morty, but the only similarity is that they are all animated shows. Bojack is as real as it gets, with some truly hilarious comedy sprinkled throughout.
At first glance, Bojack Horseman does not have a lot of “likeable” characters, they’re all flawed in their own ways. But while the characters might not be prototypically likeable, they somehow are still relatable. One main theme in the season is: how far does forgiveness go? In the trailer for the season Diane is telling Bojack, “You say you want to get better but you don’t know how.” As the season progresses, characters fuck up in increasingly worse ways, while the viewer wonders if they will ever be forgiven and grow as a person (or horse or dog)?
It’s hard to binge season five of Bojack. I found myself having to pause to digest the heavy introspection, whether it’s about the aforementioned forgiveness, depression, self-sabotage, trauma, fear of being alone, stagnation in life and career. That all seems heavy, and it is, but then a minute later I find myself laughing to the point where I have to pause to appreciate its incredibly clever dialogue.
The show follows the format of a drama more than it does a comedy, and somehow it’s still hilarious. There is a clear story being told each season and throughout the show as a whole. But in the fifth season it takes this to the extreme, telling the larger story while breaking from the show’s typical formula. Two episodes stand out. Episode six, “Free Churro,” is told entirely as Bojack monologues, and episode seven, “INT. SUB,” is told from new characters’ points of view. It includes a therapist and her girlfriend, who is a a mediator, telling the story of each of their days, altering the characters slightly so they aren’t breaking confidentiality.
Sometimes Bojack is too real. It portrays addiction and depression better than any other show I’ve ever seen, frequently to a scary degree. Season six will probably air next September, and the showrunner Raphael Bob-Waksberg said he will continue making the show as long as Netflix lets him. Let’s hope it does, because Bojack wouldn’t translate well to any other platform without being a watered down version of itself.