Bojack Horseman – The Pinnacle of Adult Animation

28 Mar Bojack Horseman – The Pinnacle of Adult Animation

When my parents finally got Netflix, my main goal was to watch all these feel-good comedies, and classic sitcoms like The Office, Community, etc. Bojack Horseman is not one of those. It’s not 20 minutes of laughter, providing you with a light-hearted escape from your daily life. Okay, yeah, it technically is a comedy and there are plenty of jokes and running gags to be found throughout the show to keep you satisfied. However, that’s not the main reason why Bojack Horseman is critically acclaimed, why I love it, and continuously talk my friends’ ears off about it. In fact, this piece is dedicated to my dear friend Aaminah Ali who simply refuses to watch this amazing masterclass of adult animation. I am not a peer supporter but I WILL peer support (pressure) her into watching it.

The main reason why Bojack Horseman is so great, what makes it stand out from other adult animated shows like Family Guy or Big Mouth, is that it’s very realistic and scarily relatable. At some point, you realise that the funny animals doing bad stuff are an accurate representation of yourself. The issues tackled in the show are approached in a respectful yet confrontational manner, making us examine ourselves and think deeper about our behaviours and mindsets. To me, Bojack Horseman is comforting in a different way than how a show like The Office is. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a show that truly gets me and encapsulates how I feel and the experiences I go through much like Bojack has. There’s comfort in familiarity, which must be why I’m so attached to the show and the characters it showcases.

Bojack Horseman is about an anthropomorphic horse, named Bojack Horseman obviously. Bojack is a middle-aged actor living in Hollywoo(d). He’s famous for starring in the 80s sitcom Horsin’ Around, where his character adopts three human orphans. However, he still hasn’t moved on from his stint in the sitcom, and the show picks off almost 20 years after Horsin’ Around has been cancelled, with Bojack living a lonely life filled with alcohol and self-loathing, in a luxurious hill-top mansion. People in his life include Princess Carolyn, a pink cat who’s his on-and-off girlfriend that also happens to be his agent, Todd Chavez, a 20-something-year-old human crashing on his couch, Mr. Peanutbutter, a labrador that Bojack is stuck in a one-sided friendship with, and Diane Nguyen, Mr Peanutbutter’s girlfriend and Bojack’s ghostwriter. Disclaimer: none of these characters are perfect or morally clean. They all have bad sides to their personalities and often do messed up stuff. Which is exactly why they’re all fascinating and engaging to me. The show takes its time to craft complex personalities for its main characters, and we’re able to follow along on their journey and personal development. We cheer and rejoice when they achieve something and make progress, which makes it even more heartbreaking when we see them slip up and fall back into old habits.

The series pushes the boundaries of what animation could be. It explores various narrative styles beautifully without compromising the comprehension of the story. Both “The Old Sugarman Place” and “Time’s Arrow” go back and forth through different periods in the characters’ lives masterfully, whilst still telling a coherent story. Season 3 features an episode with minimal dialogue, “Fish out of Water”, instead visually immersing the audience into the story. The complete opposite occurs in the season 5 episode, “Free Churro”, the whole episode being a monologue spoken by Bojack. Theoretically, this sounds excruciating to sit and listen to, but since it’s Bojack Horseman, the concept is executed excellently and Will Arnett (Bojack’s voice actor) captivates the audience, expressing perfectly the emotions that Bojack is experiencing.

The storylines explored within the show shine a light onto various relevant topics, that all of us will feel represented in one way or another. Todd’s increasing comfortability with his asexual identity, Diane’s struggle with depression and the validation of her trauma, Princess Carolyn’s codependency, Mr Peanutbutter’s denial and avoidance of any negativity in his life, and Bojack’s self destructive behaviour. The darkside of show business is heavily criticised and exposed graphically. Generational trauma is also a big theme, with many of the main characters having been permanently scarred by their upbringings.

Honestly, I don’t think I can ever do justice as to explaining just how amazing Bojack Horseman is without going into spoilers. The only way for you to truly appreciate the excellence present within the show is to actually watch it for yourself.

Lin Swe Hlaing – Year 13

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