The latest in an ever increasing line of excellent original content from Netflix, Bojack Horseman is in good company and has a lot to live up to in terms of what has come before it. On paper a show based on a depressed talking horse, set in a world where humans and animals live side by side may seem like a risky proposition, but Bojack’s bizarre world is well worth a watch.
Bojack Horseman tells the tale of said character’s life after fame. Once the star of 90’s sitcom Horsin’ Around, Bojack is now a drunk, drug addled loser living off his past glories. Living with his “friend” Todd Chavez (who came to a party at Bojack’s and never left), he spends his days watching episodes of his former show in a deluded state of self importance.
In an attempt to catapult himself back into the public eye he enlists a ghostwriter to assist him in the creation of his autobiography. Whilst working with his ghostwriter Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie), he comes to deal with his depression, how he treats those around him and love, with plenty of bumps along the way.
With an incredible cast led by Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and also including Alison Brie (Community) and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) the eclectic ensemble is brought to life expertly. Arnett in particular is on fantastic form, performing with the type of gusto and comedic timing which made his character in Arrested Development such a fan favourite.
Animals and humans live side by side with no explanation given as to why, and this leads to some of the funniest moments of the season. Penguin Publishing is of course run by a down and out penguin, a sassy cow serves steak to a customer with a guilty conscience at a diner, and Cameron Crowe is not a crow, but he is a raven (tired of people mistaking him for a crow).
A special mention must also be reserved for Paul F. Tompkins as Mr.Peanutbutter (one word), the loveable labrador and former star of a rival show to Bojack’s Horsin’ Around. As Bojack falls for his ghostwriter Diane, Mr.Peanutbutter acts as his main rival to her affections, all the while stealing scenes with the energy and enstusiam expected from a labrador (he certainly loves hearing the door bell ring).
Things do take a while to warm up though and it is a slow burner, with the opening few episodes of the season treading thematic water we have seen previously (and perhaps better) in other animated comedies such as Family Guy, but the key to the show’s success is that it follows this up with genuinely interesting character and plot developments for each of the cast.
Towards the final third of the season this begins to pay off and as a result we see some heartwarming (and hilarious) results. Penultimate episode “Downer Ending” is a drug induced highlight, capturing the boiling point of each of the story threads perfectly.
Bojack is by nature a flawed character, relatable and likeable on one hand, whilst brutally blunt and oblivious to his own misgivings on the other. His moral compass is entirely broken when the audience is first introduced to him, but over the course of the season it gets ever so slightly fixed. He doesn’t get a complete redemption, but then he wouldn’t be Bojack if he did.
It’s a grower not a shower.
Rating (out of 5):