At the end of a sitcom run, characters usually get closure and the happy ending they’ve been courting throughout the show. We collectively “aww” and then move on to the next new network comedy. But what about the stars of the show, the actors who go from being people we care about to mere has-beens? For instance, take a former 1990s TV star who is now in his fifties and is developing a bit of a beer belly? What is he supposed to do with his life and time now?
Well, BoJack uses his time drinking, hooking up, and bingeing on the relics of his past.
BoJack Horseman, the lead character of the animated television show, is an anthropomorphic alcoholic horse, living in a version of Los Angeles that is populated with anthropomorphic animals that co-exist and sleep with humans and each other in a matter-of-fact way. BoJack is the former star of a ’90s sitcom called Horsin’ Around, about a horse who adopts three orphans – think an animated Full House. He is now washed-up and looking for work and meaning in his life. He tries to write a memoir about who he is really is, while simultaneously trying to distance himself from anything that forces him to face the whole truth about it.
Fresh off its win for Best Animated Series at the Critics Choice Award, Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s BoJack Horseman is available for streaming on Netflix India.
BoJack (voiced by Will Arnett) is accompanied by Todd (Aaron Paul), a house guest who slept on the couch and never left, his good-hearted nemesis Mr Peanutbutter, and Sarah Lynn, the child artist from Horsin’ Around who grew up to be a drug addicted and troubled pop star. His love interests include his workaholic and driven agent, a pink cat called Princess Carolyn who always lands on her feet, a ghostwriter named Diane Nyugen (don’t bother trying to to pronounce that, no one can), Wanda, an owl who is a network executive fresh out of a 30-year-old coma, and an old friend, the deer Charlotte, who is the representation of “what if” for BoJack.
The rest of the BoJack universe is just as meticulously created, and this is where a bulk of the humour rests. It’s brilliant how Vanity Fair becomes Manatee Fair, BoJack’s publisher is a penguin called Pinky, Neil McBeal Navy Seal is actually a seal, and the most popular news network is called MSNBSea, where the newsreader is a blue whale called Tom Jumbo-Grumbo.
But beyond the clever puns and brilliant humour, the series discusses the desperation and hopelessness felt by the cynical, selfish, self-consumed stereotype of a washed-out Hollywoo (yes, that’s spelt correctly) star, who realises that his life’s work was not as significant as he tries to make himself believe. BoJack’s middle-age melancholy and contempt is a result of a love-less childhood, his betrayal of his best friend, Herb, and the crushing celebrity culture of which he is a victim. At one point, BoJack poignantly points out that maybe he was “born with a leak, and any goodness I started with just slowly spilled out of me, and now it’s all gone. And I’ll never get it back in me. It’s too late. Life is a series of closing doors, isn’t it?”
So while BoJack goes from being a sitcom star to a bestselling author – for which he wins a Golden Globe for some reason – to starring as the lead in his dream project as controversial racetrack horse Secretariat, something is always amiss. He tries to fill that empty space with beer, drugs and non-stop reruns of his days of fame, but nothing really cuts it.
This is perfectly depicted in the opening credits as he lies numb, going through life yet not getting touched by it.
BoJack Horseman is a perfect example of a show that is as hilarious as it is moving. It is both a dramedy and a brightly coloured cartoon show. Start binge-watching and get invested in existential debates about the meaning of everything through the eyes of a depressed alcoholic talking horse.