BoJack's cynical dissection of celebrity

Friday, September 2, 2016

BoJack Horseman
Created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Designed by Lisa Hanawalt
Starring Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris

Created by Raphael Bob-Wakesburg in collaboration with Lisa Hanawalt, who had previously worked with him on the web comic Tip Me Over, Pour Me Out, the critically acclaimed for BoJack Horseman is a black comedy satirising Hollywood and celebrity culture.

The 2016 Critics Choice Award winning show follows the exploits of BoJack (Will Arnett), a washed up former star as he struggles to regain relevance in Hollywood.

In a world where humans and anthropomorphic animals live side by side, BoJack plans his big return to celebrity relevance with a tell-all autobiography that he dictates to his ghostwriter Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie). Nguyen also happens to be the partner of the golden Labrador retriever Mr Peanutbutter (Paul F Tompkins).

BoJack also has to contend with the demands of his agent and on-again-off-again girlfriend, the feline Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), as well as the misguided antics of his freeloading roommate Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul).

“You know, sometimes I feel I was born with a leak,” BoJack states at one point. “And any goodness I started out with slowly spilled out of me, and now it's all gone, and I will never get it back in me. Life is a series of closing doors.”

Such comments reflect his cynicism, self-loathing and tendency to sabotage his attempts to succeed.

Throughout the series, BoJack continually comes undone due to this tendency. However, in spite of this, by the start of the third season he has successfully returned to the spotlight with his starring role in the film Secretariat. He is currently campaigning to win the Oscar for best film.

However, over the course of season 3, we see BoJacks worst tendencies come back to haunt him and everyone else, as he drags them down with him and everything spirals out of control.

As well as BoJack's troubles, we also see the problems other characters face. These include Diane and Mr Peanutbutter's troubled marriage, Princess Carolyn's lack of a life outside of work, Todd's constant quest for acceptance in an uphill battle to forge any kind of serious connection with BoJack.

In one of the best episodes of the series, “Fish out of Water”, BoJack has to travel to an underwater award and is unable to speak. The episode is mostly silent, but there is a twist at the end of the episode in which he would have been able to speak if he had just pressed the communication button on his oxygen bubble.

Being a Netflix series, it is easy to watch all 37 episodes (the three seasons plus a Christmas special episode) in one go. In spite of all the problems of BoJack and the other characters, you will be able to identify at least a part of yourself in at least one of these characters. It is a show that can be hilarious, but very depressing. It also features many great visual gags and pop-culture references.

More importantly, it also deals with many important issues such as how society deals with militarism, sexual assault, abortion, drug addiction and the emptiness of Hollywood and celebrity culture. Having completed the first three seasons, the show has already been renewed for a fourth season next year. It is a show I would highly recommend.

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