Horsin’ Around with Feelings: The BoJack Horseman Story

Cody Van Saders

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Yomar Celeste

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Escape to Graduate
June 19, 2019

When you think of a cartoon, what do you typically think? Usually, a show like SpongeBob Squarepants or Family Guy is the first thing that comes to mind. But what if I told you Netflix holds one of the greatest cartoons in its endless list of Netflix originals? And, what if we told you it’s titular character is a washed-up horse actor whose claim to fame was playing the main character in a Full House-esque television show 20 years prior to the start of the series? You’d probably think we’re crazy; but, the show BoJack Horseman brings an interesting dynamic to cartoons. To put it into perspective, it has the excellent wit and humor of other cartoons, yet it also has consequences and continuity that most lack. What we mean is, imagine if Peter Griffin had repercussions for the things he does, and those things are what drives the characters throughout the entire series. That’s BoJack Horseman. And let us tell you something, it does not sugarcoat anything.

The first element that gets the viewers invested in the show is its colorful cast of characters. Of course, we have BoJack as the lead; he’s an egotistical jerk who always wants a happy ending to be made by the end of a 26 minute episode, like in his old show Horsin’ Around, which makes the viewers dislike him at the start of the series. One thing about BoJack that becomes more apparent as the series progresses is that he is not meant to be liked as a person. However, throughout the series, we hear BoJack talk about his dysfunctional family and see all the terrible things he does and how he tries to make up for it, which makes the viewer sympathize and relate to him, evenutally. Along with BoJack, there are many other appealing characters, such as Todd Chavez, a character who serves primarily as comic relief and partakes in some pretty wild antics that are enjoyable to watch; or, Princess Carolyn who is a cat that serves as BoJack’s career agent and former girlfriend.

Another factor that makes BoJack unique is the series’ commitment to making even the most minuscule detail important. Since everything matters in the show, everything BoJack does is important throughout. If he does one action during one season, he will definitely be reminded of it at some point in the series. For example, the “D” in the Hollywood sign goes missing in the first season, and for the rest of the series it is called “Hollywoo.” This is a minor detail in the plot, of course, but it just is only one of the many consistencies that can be found in the show’s five season run. Along with these, the show also has many psychological and philosophical themes. For example, one of these ideas is the viewpoint of Existential Nihilism. This is where one believes that life has no inherent meaning to it, but it is up to the individual to make meaning for them. This is especially prominent in the case of BoJack, only adding to the intelligence and thought-provoking nature of the show. Adding onto this, the show asks a question commonly asked to celebrities today: “If you have everything how come you are not happy?” This question was addressed by 17th century philosopher Blaise Pascal; he said that when given too much time, humans will contemplate their own insignificance and it will make them upset. When given distractions, we will stop thinking about our own insignificance and be happy, which is portrayed in how BoJack tends to cope with his meaningless life through parties and making himself feel superior to others. The show covers many more theories and philosophies but the rest you guys will have to find out by watching.

Overall, BoJack Horseman is really quite a journey. But it is a journey that everyone should experience. The show has recently released its fifth season, and is coming to cable television; so now is the perfect time to get into the show. And, as weird as it is, this show about an anthropomorphic horse and his antics can really teach you about human nature. The show may even teach you a thing or two about yourself.