By Ellie Fernyhough, Third Year, Psychology
Netflix’s popular animated series Bojack Horseman (2014 – present), starring Will Arnett as the titular character, has returned with its sixth season, and it does not disappoint.
Bojack Horseman’s sixth and final season being released in two halves is a blessing if, like me, you can’t get enough of the bizarre world of cartoony, anthropomorphized animal celebrities and watched the first eight episodes in one day.
It seems watchers of the show fall into two camps: the bingers, and the people who love it but struggle to take in more than an episode at a time simply because of how deep the subject matter cuts. The characters, from Horseman (Arnett) to a hapless penguin publisher, have experienced every misfortune imaginable in the show’s lifetime, often all the more painful as many were self-inflicted.
However, this season seems more about introspection and tends towards self-improvement for the main characters; Princess Carolyn (Sedaris) has to come to terms with having a child in her highly demanding job, Diane Nguyen (Brie) is making steps to build a life away from Mr. Peanut Butter (Tompkins) and we get some intriguing insight into Todd, Aaron Paul’s character, who is usually something of a comic relief, and his family.
Bojack, when we left him at the end of season five, was pulling up outside of rehab. His deeply flawed existence has been one of the toughest parts to watch until now; in particular, his behaviour towards younger women, which haunts him. There are hints, in this season, that the finale may see him redeemed.
Tthis is part of what makes the show a little divisive, as one could be forgiven for being confused about the lack of real comedy in the cartoon
Bojack’s ongoing guilt, and its direct influence on his alcoholism, is represented visually with bottles of spirits appearing full up with an expansive gallery instead: lifted from the planetarium he visited with his Horsin’ Around co-star Sarah Lynn (Schaal) the night she died.
this is like the happiest episode of Bojack Horseman. Heart, warmed. 💓 (s6/ep7) pic.twitter.com/wsOwiFSfYc— Vera F (@verafstn) October 27, 2019
This is one gut-wrenching way the show has matured; season one stood out as a deadpan, slightly absurdist self-reflective comedy cartoon, perhaps one of the strongest to debut since the Simpsons lost its spark. However, it was still a pretty straight comedy.
No one quite expected the sincere turn it would take in subsequent seasons; this is part of what makes the show a little divisive, as one could be forgiven for being confused about the lack of real comedy in the cartoon. Undeniably, though, Bojack Horseman has pulled this shift off with award-winning episodes and extremely positive reception from the public.
One of the saddest stories of Bojack Horseman has been Diane Nguyen’s decline
After the peak of self-referentialism reached in season five, where Bojack scores a television role playing a repressed alcoholic who lives in a flat exactly the same as his own, season six seems to be a break in the tension.
Another significant change might be missed by many; Netlfix’s ‘skip intro’ button is useful for binging but the new Bojack Horseman title sequence is actually worth watching. The changes are pretty important to set the scene for the end of the show.
The same galaxy image Bojack sees in all alcohol overlays the sky and more trips down memory lane abound: Horsin’ Around director (and another ex-friend of Bojack) Herb Kazzaz appears multiple times, as well as the scuba helmet Bojack wore in a lauded season three episode of the show called 'Fish Out Of Water' from 2016.
Looking back over the not-so-high highlights of Bojack’s actions throughout the show gives even more of a contrast with his apparent self-improvement in the new episodes. One of the saddest stories of Bojack Horseman has been Diane Nguyen’s decline. When she entered Bojack’s life at the very start of the show as his ghostwriter, she seemed a kind and perceptive person, who couldn’t possibly behave as poorly as the titular character does.
if you asked me 6 yrs ago how i thought id be rmembered id have probably said that horse from horsin around but here we are season 6 on @netflix the 2 part final season before i hit the dusty trail aka runyon dont make plans oct 25 or jan31 bc youre watching me and feeling feels pic.twitter.com/PbVBLdfXP6— BoJack Horseman (@BoJackHorseman) September 27, 2019
By season six, her flaws are exposed: she is aloof, self-pitying, and cold to Mr. Peanutbutter before having an affair with him shortly after their divorce. It seems Hollywoo is destroying her, and one is left hopeful in the eighth episode of this season that she will leave California for good.
Season six is replete with the same tongue-twisting lines from Princess Carolyn, rhetorical pop culture references from Mr. Peanutbutter and easy-to-miss visual gags as all of the seasons which came before it. What’s different is the characters seem to be improving rather than careering towards another disaster; that is, until episode eight.
But that heartbreaking twist is for you to find out.
Featured: IMDb / Netflix
Are you ready for Bojack Horseman to come to a close?