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Bojack Horseman Review

Been a while, huh?

Sorry about that, life gets in the way. And frankly, we all get tired of life at some point, no matter who we are. Perhaps no greater cartoon exemplifies this concept than what I could only describe as the modern Shakespearean tragedy weaved into an animated format: Bojack Horseman. This show, over a six-season course, will rip your heart out and devour it before you, replace it, and repeat the process until you've learned to isolate yourself and forever dissuade the ideas of love and trust into your mind forever. Okay, maybe not that dramatically, but it gets pretty darn close. Revolving around a self-destructive celebrity named Bojack, who happens to be a horse (go figure), the show regales a story of a downtrodden, washed-up reject attempting to recapture his former glories, but only stumbling because of his own flaws and those ingrained into him from youth by a set of uncaring, ruthless, negligent parents. Let's delve deep into this depressingly amazing experience, and why you should give it a watch.

First off, Bojack's story, save a few exceptional and hilarious breaks, is devoid of action. There aren't any grand scale fighting scenes or epic battles waged upon a bridge over flame. It's a story crafted through dialogue and movement, through observation and detail. Most moments sprinkled throughout the show hold an innate meaning to them, a symbolism that many reviewers before me have already deciphered fully, so I'm not gonna bother here. This detail extends beyond titular character Bojack and into every member of the main cast, from the snappy yet decisive career woman Princess Carolyn (a pink cat), Todd (a regular human deadbeat with a heart of gold), Diane (a journalist who becomes enraptured in Bojack's life), Mister Peanutbutter (an overly positive Golden Retriever with a toxic side), and many others. These characters all construe Bojack at his core and define his being, and without their side-plots, whether comedic or serious in their own right, we wouldn't have the stellar show that's presented to us. Every episode is necessary, and there's no real 'filler', as everything progresses the plotline in one manner or another.

And the characters themselves, where do I even begin? Aside from a stereotypical joke character meant to represent corporate America and another embodying the Hollywood vices of men such as Harvey Weinstein, the characters are generally so complex you can't even morally define them. Even Diane, who mostly acts with decent candor, sometimes veers over into the side of darkness at times. Except for Todd, that man's a pure angelic soul of innocence. Nevertheless, rooting for anyone within this story isn't really advisable, you only have relatively grey characters to awful people whose awfulness is somewhat understandable given their youth.

A superb embodiment of this characterization is Beatrice Horseman, Bojack's mother, who herself, is a product of hateful misogynistic abuse at her father's hands (with her father not realizing it himself and only acting upon the predominant cultural trends of his time), becoming an utter monster to her son Bojack, neglecting and outright insulting him constantly since he was a child. The frustrating aspects come in once it's revealed that Beatrice indeed had the capacity for kindness, it was only ever buried behind so many layers of hatred and anguish at the world that she couldn't ever express it properly to her son. I'd mention Bojack's father Butterscotch, but he's more just an abusive father archetype... though I did relate with a few of his comments about writing. It's indeed a hard craft to master.

And Bojack himself... there's so much to say about Bojack that a single review can't do him justice, I'll probably have to make another post entirely for him. I hated that I could relate to a few of his character traits. His constant blaming of others, avoiding consequences for his actions to those around him; such as the child star Sarah Lynn whose death he plays a grisly hand in, choking a woman while on set for a television show, abandoning his best friend, etcetera. Yet for every atrocity Bojack commits, you cannot fully hate him. It's not like he's a born psychopath with a penchant to hurt others. He was molded into such a monster by his parents, by the soulless environment he grew up in. Yet the show posits a crucial question applicable to everyone: how far can trauma justify your bad behavior? Bojack is a case in character study, and many episodes that revolve around his character have found themselves at home with the show's viewers.

I could also discuss Mister Peanutbutter- while not broken or traumatized or angry at the world like Bojack, he's perhaps an example of 'toxic positivity', rarely seeing the downside with anything to life and therefore believing nothing really needs fixing, ranging from his relationships to financial decisions. Or Princess Carolyn's journey from being a stressed career woman to finding a balance between her work-life and raising a child on her own. I could go on and on, because I love this show and care so deeply for its characters.

Ultimately, Bojack Horseman is a modern gem within a sea of bland media and uninspired cartoons. A very adult and realistic look into dark subjects such as depression, abuse, trauma, and how people can either move on from their worst moments or drown eternally in them, I highly recommend it, though I'll add a warning should anyone here be averse to such discussions. I give it a 10/10. Thank you for reading and God Bless.

P.S. - Sorry for the lack of recent posts. I have many things planned for the blog coming up, so stay tuned!

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