Bojack Horseman’s new season shows characters lowest points

Patrick Sullivan, Web Editor

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Warning: Spoilers for all of Bojack Horseman are in this review!

“How many psychiatrists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Just one, but the lightbulb has to want to change.”

This one off joke from season three of the Netflix original Bojack Horseman becomes a big theme for the new season that was released last Friday.

The twelve episode long season starts from the upswing for the main character Bojack Horseman after he learns about his half-sister Hollyhock. Like a pendulum, Bojack’s life over the course of this season swings back the other way, showing the character’s new lowest point after a series of supposed low points.

At the end of last season and the beginning of this new season, we see Bojack wanting to fix his self-destructive behaviors. He helped his friend and manager Princess Carolyn by taking a steady job as the lead actor on a new TV show Philbert, he starts to try to curb his unhealthy drinking habits and he is trying to do what’s right not just for him but for the other people in his life.

Through the course of the series, Bojack Horseman has done some terrible things. Despite all of this, the audience still wants a happy ending for Bojack. They want him to work through his demons and find a way to get better.

But to quote episode six, “Free Churro” – “You can’t have a happy ending in sitcoms, not really, because if everyone’s happy, the show would be over. You never get a happy ending, ‘cause there’s always more show.”

“I guess until there isn’t.”

Unfortunately for Bojack, the upswing of last season does not last long. Following an accident that happens during the filming of “Philbert,” Bojack develops an unhealthy dependence on painkillers.

This addiction ends in episode 11, when reality and “Philbert” start to blur together for Bojack. At the end of the episode, Bojack attempts to strangle his girlfriend and costar Gina while filming an episode of “Philbert,” only stopping when getting forcibly pulled off by crew members.

As the new season progressed, there’s the thought that Bojack was finally going to face real-life consequences for his actions. A tape of him talking about almost sleeping with a seventeen year old that disappeared in season three resurfaced this season, and other characters that he had wronged in the past returned briefly in a few episodes.

In the end there were no consequences for what Bojack did to Gina. Even after coming to his senses and wanting to get punished for what he had done, nothing happened to Bojack Horseman.

A big theme this season was television normalizing behavior for other people, and how terrible traits being seen on TV were being justified by ‘cool’ actors having those traits. With a show like Rick and Morty, it’s justifying being a bad person because that means that you’re actually a genius.

With Bojack Horseman, it’s justifying drinking heavily, doing drugs, and unhealthily dealing with mental illness because it’s what the funny horse guy on TV does. This theme is shown through the sometimes fourth-wall breaking filming of “Philbert,” and the show getting buzz and acclaim despite the lead character having terrible traits.

Bojack Horseman hasn’t shied away in the past from doing off-the-wall concept episodes, and this season was packed with them. One episode was presented in the way a Buzzfeed listicle is written while jumping from between flashbacks and the present with each bullet point.

Another, and easily the stand out episode of the season, was “Free Churro,” a twenty minute long episode where all that happens is Bojack delivers a eulogy about his mother. The entire episode is contradictory to the show being animated, and Will Arnett’s performance as Bojack’s voice actor was absolutely remarkable.

All in all, this season was a fantastic look at the character of Bojack Horseman. Season five dealt with a lot of heavy subject material from addiction to attempted murder, all wrapped up in the jokes, rhymes and animal puns that give the show its charm.

Rating: 9/10