Nothing juxtaposes chaotic slapstick with crippling depression like BoJack Horseman. The animated series from Netflix has aged like fine wine – each season feeling more compact, more mature, more strained while still digging to deeper lows and climbing to higher highs. Basically, it gets funnier and funnier and sadder and sadder.
SPOILERS for BOJACK HORSEMAN S6 (Episodes 1-8)
The first 8 episodes of season 6 were a trip though. Maintaining the chaotic nature of Hollywoo these episodes deliver gags at the highest caliber. We begin observing the growth of each character.
BoJack as he grows from rehab, Diane as she finds her passion, Mr. Peanutbutter while he addresses an unfamiliar guilt, and Princess Carolyn as she learns to become a mother, and Todd as he finds a job and searches for his asexual partner.
All of these items are conflict, and if we knew anything leaving Season 5 of BoJack Horseman, it was that these characters tend to buckle under conflict, only to rise like phoenix’s as the take on new conflicts, well, all of them except for BoJack who often plummets to the Earth.
He shows the most growth here, nervous about leaving the rehab facility, in the 7th episode we see him connect with his sister Hollyhock and take on a new and improved life as a professor. Stripping himself of his celebrity identity so he can live the life that substances held him back from.
Unfortunately, in our chaotic world, no matter how much you improve your behavior, consequences for past actions could be lurking around the corner. Some subtle, like a butterfly effect, others blatant and at times offer disproportionate punishment.
Waksberg and his team aren’t interested in taking a stance on BoJack, they want us to be the jury. What kind of consequences should he suffer? After observing his repents, do we still wish to see him face more consequences? It’s subjective, some may say no, some may yes, and others may say “Oh, hell yes.”
BoJack Horseman is a strong show because they’ve always treated the viewer as an outside observer to how depression, substance abuse, and other mental illness may impact and stranglehold others. Again, we aren’t asked to take a definite stance, only to observe.
And just when you thought things were looking too peachy, we get that eighth episode, the mid-season finale. It’s a cliff-hanger (I know, annoying, right?) that even though BoJack may have discovered his path to peace, he still has a lot of stress ahead of him as he faces consequences for the people he his impacted with his neglectful behavior.
The thing about consequences is, not only can you not out run them, you never know when they’ll hit you. There may be several things you are ashamed of in your life, things that make you cringe, yet you’re the only one who has observed your regretful actions, and any day, like the butterfly effect, those consequences can and will find you.
In a world of chaos though, we do often see consequences not hitting certain people, particularly the powerful. Lately though we’ve had a culture shift, and now the public demands a more responsible set of role models in our world.
BoJack Horseman manages to offer a perspective not only on our culture, but on ourselves. It asks us to look outward and inward. And that’s why it’s the greatest show Netflix has ever produced. And it is one of the greatest shows of the decade.