At long last, BoJack Horseman has come back to us, the Gods of Netflix granting us mere mortals a third season of this most excellent series.
Alright, let's back up a little bit. Though the streaming service does not make public its viewership numbers, and though signs seem to indicate that there is quite a large number BoJack Horseman fans out there (i.e. 437,266 on Facebook, 118,364 on Twitter), maybe you're not among that group.
So let's back up. BoJack Horseman? What is that? It's the celebrated and critically-acclaimed Netflix animated comedy series about anthropomorphic animals—GQ has called it the service's best original series, an assessment with which I would agree—and season three episodes were made available on July 22.
Yay, right? Damn right yay.
Okay, but what is it, right? Okay okay, are you ready? BoJack Horseman tells the story of BoJack Horseman (voiced by Will Arnett), literal horse in physical form but very much man in spirit and everything else.
When the show starts, BoJack is the former television star from the 90s series Horsin' Around (get it? 'CAUSE HE'S A HORSE!), which saw BoJack act as father figure to a trio of young orphans and which became a legitimate success and gained a sort of cult following. It was, like most things in the 90s, simple and simplistic. When BoJack Horseman starts, our protagonist is absolutely miserable and is actually anything but a father figure. BoJack isn't famous anymore and we'll come to realize that he is willing to try just about every trick in the book to find joy again, navigating between drugs and booze, and anonymity and celebrity. BoJack is sad, is what I'm getting at.
BoJack is sad and he's living alone in his mansion overlooking the Hollywoo(d) hill—well, not alone. Though he feels utterly alone, he is living with Todd (played by Aaron Paul), his pseudo roommate turned reluctant best friend.
BoJack is miserable, depressed and lonely but his one saving grace is that, as an avowed megalomaniac, he's believing in BoJack Horseman as much as anyone ever will. He's omniscient too—or at least he starts off believing he is that way, convinced that he knows how to cure all his ills and to restore order to the universe. You see, if BoJack tests the limits of most everyone he meets, from Todd to his friend Diane (voiced by Alison Brie), and from his agent and on-again, off-again sexual partner Princess Carolyn (played by Amy Sedaris) to indefatigably peppy puppy turned rival Mr. Peanutbutter (played by Paul F. Tompkins); If BoJack does treat all of them so miserably, it's because they just don't know what it's like to have lived in the public eye and to then suddenly be forgotten.
...Or so thinks BoJack.
But forgotten isn't a word that BoJack likes to use. Gone, sure, but not forgotten. BoJack knows just what he needs to do for the mere mortals living down the Hollywoo(d) hill to remember him. In season 1, it's a ghostwritten memoir. In season 2, it's his dream project, a biopic of Secratariat (the horse! Get it? 'CAUSE HE HIMSELF IS A HORSE!).
The difference with season 3, apparently because I haven't watched it yet, is that BoJack realizes there's no cure to his ills. Even if he inserts himself at the center of the universe once again, there is no fixing the void at the center of his universe.
That is the premise of the show, sure, but why is BoJack Horseman so critically acclaimed and popular? Well, there are many reasons to explain this. The utterly insanity of all I've already described above is a clear reason. So is the fact that, as a comedy, the show has legitimate great puns, jokes and punchlines. It's also a very current and relevant show, drawing inspiration from a number of real-life Hollywoo(d) stories and acts as a scathing criticism of our star system. BoJack Horseman is also unafraid to take risks and to push boundaries of the medium, which is always appreciated. Finally, there's the fact that there may not be a single TV show that tackles mental illnesses as well as BoJack Horseman does. BoJack is deeply depressed and you somehow feel for him, even if you know what a giant asshole he is.
That's because, and this is the show's greatest strength, though BoJack Horseman is an animated series about the trials and tribulations of a Hollywoo(d) movie horse star, it's a deeply human show. Diane bailed on charity work in Africa and struggles in her marriage to Mr. Peanutbutter, who lacks any semblance of sense of clarity. Todd's genial stupidity is the least of his worries, as he's just about the world's most innocent person and couldn't find redemption if it sat by himself on BoJack's red couch.
And in the middle of it all stands BoJack, sad, depressed, alcoholic, vile, flawed. Human. Horse.