‘Bojak Horseman’ transcends dark comedic stereotypes

“Bojack Horseman” may seem like another cartoon comedy. However, it transcends this by providing a gripping reality of different issues and brilliant character development. / Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Back in the ’90s, he was on a very famous TV show. For those who don’t know who this is referring to, it’s Bojack Horseman, the anthropomorphic horse from Netflix’s eponymous original series.

It was December of senior year when I first laid eyes on the famed horse. The last week of winter break was winding down quite slowly before I went to a friend’s for a night of baking and meditating to cello drones.

We had just gotten back from a walk next to the lake when one of my friends suggested that we watch “Bojack.” I had heard rave reviews throughout the years from various classmates and acquaintances, and more recently I had heard friends constantly singing the outro: “Back in the ‘90s I was in a very famous TV show!” I did not know then, but watching “Bojack” was about to become a very big part of the culture of my high school.

That night, my friends and I sat around the television as one said, “I can’t ever stop watching the introduction!” Subsequently, the intro started playing: Bojack waking up, getting out of his bed, moving throughout his day and then to the iconic scene of him looking up at Diane, a human writer, and Mr. Peanutbutter, a famous anthropomorphic dog, looking back down at him from above a swimming pool. I would soon learn that many of the characters Bojack casually passed in the first intro would become very important throughout the series, even in the recently released fourth season.

With a small main cast, the characters’ journeys in “Bojack Horseman” become more complex and existential with each episode. Nothing is ever shown at complete face value, especially compared to other “adult cartoons” that I have watched. By keeping details that happen in an episode constantly through the rest of the series, the structure of the show is very similar to that of “Arrested Development,” in which Will Arnett, the voice of Bo- jack, co-stars as well.

I have to say that “Bojack Horseman” has a won- derful set of actors. The fluidity that they have to carry out a message throughout the life of the show and characters astonishes me. Along with that, “Bojack” even bleeds over into real life. The show’s official Instagram is run by Bojack Horseman himself, as well as the official Twitter. Official art—not screenshots—are consistently appearing on social media, featuring Bojack with celebrities like Brit- ney Spears, Mariah Carey, Channing Tatum or even Mr. Peanutbutter himself!

“Bojack” transcends many stereotypes of its perceived genre. In theory, it seems like it is simply a dark comedy about a drunken horse. After watching multiple episodes, though, it morphs into a conglomeration of nuances of small realizations.

The characters lie, but it isn’t shown on screen. The characters cry, and the show isn’t even afraid to deal with the discussion of mental health, death and addiction. Characters are constantly struggling with identity. “Bojack” is an extension of real life; the issues and problems that the characters face are very real, albeit sometimes exaggerated, but always parallel some sort of the human experience. All of this stands true until some of the not-so-dark comedy comes into play, however.

Again, the show takes real issues and real people discovering who they are as they grow into themselves and try to change, whether they are “bad” or “good,” and juxtaposes this with absurd comedy, which is sometimes an extreme repercussion of their actions.

It’s all deep until it involves buying hundreds of tons of spaghetti strainers. For example, at one point in the first season, a TV show is made entitled “Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things?? Let’s Find Out!” For those who have not seen the show, Hollywoo results when someone steals the D off of the end of the Hollywood sign. During the most recent season, a bridge to Hawaii is built from Los Ange- les—which admittedly does provide quite a bit of political ridicule buried beneath the concept of a thousands-of-miles-long bridge over open ocean.

The originality of the individual concepts in different episodes never ceases to amaze me. One of the most arguably beautiful episodes of the show in general is the third season’s “Fish Out of Water.” Nearly completely without dialogue, the episode takes Bojack on a below-sea-level odyssey, complete with seahorses and a fish-filled metropolis.

Another episode, this time “The Old Sugarman Place,” brings the viewer through an old neigh- bor’s dark, emotional past that intertwines with that of Bojack’s family. “Downer Ending” consists of a frustrated group of people combating writer’s block in a very ineffective way, creating an alternate reality in which Bojack himself makes drastically different life choices. These are just a few examples, though, and each subplot brings a lot to the table in terms of adding to the overall storyline.

If anyone couldn’t tell, I personally am quite a fan of “Bojack Horseman.” This horse will forever be immortalized as the only photo on my graduation cap, and my senior quote was originally said by Vincent Adultman: “Don’t be sad, good horsey!” Two other people in my senior class used quotes from the show in the yearbook.

My ringtone used to be Sarah Lynn’s “Prickly Muffin” and text tone, “BRRAP BRRAP PEW PEW,” as said so eloquently by the dolphin Sextina Aquafina (baaabayyy), and I will never fail to take a screenshot of an official social media post of Bo- jack in bed next to Kim Kardashian.

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