In “BoJack Horseman,” this is what a talking humanoid horse gets right about self-destruction and mental illness
Get ready: Season 4 of Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman” is set to return on September 8th after a bleak but stunning third season, which concluded with self-revelation, bulks of spaghetti strainers, and an unexpectedly sad drug overdose.
For the uninitiated, the animated series follows has-been ‘90s sitcom star BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett) trying to reinvent himself in Hollywood (or Hollywoo), and lends a stellar supporting cast that includes Aaron Paul, Alison Brie, and Amy Sedaris.
Let it be perfectly clear, however, that creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s series about a talking humanoid horse is not your average cartoon. Along with the unparalleled humor that mocks the world in which we live (re: the abortion episode that featured a diverse panel of white men in bow ties) and clever puns, the show explores existential aspects of self-destruction, depression, and addiction as BoJack grapples with the search for happiness.
Below are a few moments from the series that brilliantly explored the too-real aspects of life.
An Oscar nomination for Secretariat, but a still-lingering hole of emptiness.
In Season 3, BoJack garners an Oscar nomination for his dream role in Secretariat. We later learn this was a mistake due to the usual silly antics of Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul Tompkins) and Todd (Aaron Paul), but still — there’s a scene in which Diane (Alison Brie) visits BoJack after learning of the good news to make sure he’s okay, knowing full well that something otherwise so wonderful still wouldn’t be able to fill BoJack’s void and, if anything, would reinforce his emptiness. Defensive, he projects and accuses her of fetishizing her own sadness — something he himself is guilty of.
Keeping people at arm’s length, resulting in alienation.
There’s a scene of self-realization where BoJack says, “Everyone loves you but nobody likes you, and that is the loneliest thing in the world.” Throughout the series, he struggles to maintain meaningful relationships by keeping people who care about him at arm’s length. After news of his Oscar blunder and various downward spirals, Todd and Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) alienate themselves from his toxicity.
BoJack also begins a dysfunctional relationship with his publicist Ana (voice-over guest Angela Bassett), who maintains an unyielding “I don’t need anyone” façade. In an episode, he secretly follows her home to learn more about her and, to his surprise, sees the solitude in her otherwise normal life as she prepares instant mac n’ cheese. Both characters perfectly encapsulate the tolls of never letting people in.
A repetitive cycle of self-destruction and self-pity.
Following news of the Secretariat Oscar blunder, BoJack resorts to drug-fueled antics with Sarah Lynn (guest voice-over Kristen Schaal), his former TV daughter during their ‘90s sitcom days who’s been successfully working toward sobriety. After various black-out antics, there’s a heartbreaking scene in a seedy motel where Sarah Lynn admits, “I don’t like anything about myself.” Her revelation is later followed by a drug overdose, and BoJack, blaming himself, falls into solemn despair.
Another significant self-realizing line from the season comes from Todd, who straight-up tells BoJack:
BoJack Horseman returns to Netflix on September 8th. Until then, we’ll be here contemplating the existential meaning of it all.