In my reviews of the previous seasons, I think I include the caveat somewhere in the body of the writing that this is not a cartoon for children. This animated series about an anthropomorphized horse struggling with depression and multiple substance abuse issues has always had a tendency to go dark. Season 3 is the darkest example yet.
In fact it may even be too dark for some adults. Some of the things that went on in the last two episodes of the season, “That’s Too Much, Man!” and “That Went Well,” hit me like a punch to the solar plexus. And I consider myself to be pretty much immune to emotional manipulation by cartoons.
I’m not going to spoil everything for you. If you’re not warned off from the series by the above disclaimer, let’s talk about the hijinks our favorite animated characters get up to in this season.
During this season BoJack works at promoting his movie Secretariat, which is a big hit when it opens. The movie has serious Oscar buzz. Then it is actually nominated. Mr. Peanutbutter is revealing the nominations, but, it turns out, Secretariat was not actually on the list. After celebrating the nomination in bold Hollywoo style, BoJack goes into a downward spiral in a drug and alcohol binge with Sarah Lynn, who was once a child actor on BoJack’s ’90s television show Horsin’ Around. It feels like BoJack hits rock bottom by the end of the last episode, but this is BoJack we’re talking about. He can probably tunnel under the bedrock.
Meanwhile, Princess Carolyn struggles at her new agency, gets fired by BoJack, and finds a new relationship with a mouse named Ralph Stilton. By the end of the last episode, she has an epiphany and decides to change her career ambitions. The man-bunned Judah (Deidrich Bader) is still with her.
Todd Chavez continues to bumble his way through life, Forrest Gump style. He and Mr. Peanutbutter begin a business that begins as a cab service that offers a safe place for women and ends up as a Hooters on wheels, with stripper drivers. Todd ends up the season as a millionaire when the company is sold, but in typical Todd fashion he accidentally tips his entire fortune to a diner waitress.
Unfortunately, Diane Nguyen doesn’t get any truly strong story arcs this season. She and Mr. Peanutbutter do get pregnant, but both decide that they want to go with abortion. While ghostwriting texts for teen pop star Sextina Aquafina, Diane accidentally types that the young star is getting an abortion, which boosts Sextina’s popularity even as it causes a lot of controversy.
Mr. Peanutbutter continues to be the Anti-BoJack, a character whose overwhelmingly positive outlook on life continues to bring him success. He corners the market on food strainers, which fills his house with cartons of the items, in some failed marketing idea with Todd. In the end, there is a huge spaghetti-related maritime incident—naturally caused by famed character actor Margo Martindale—and Mr. Peanutbutter is able to save the day with all of his strainers. Ridiculous? Absolutely, but refreshing after dealing with BoJack’s issues. Mr. Peanutbutter ends the season wealthier than ever, with the offers still pouring in.
The fourth episode of the season, “Fish Out of Water,” gets honorable mention from me. It involves BoJack promoting Secretariat in an underwater city. There’s less than three minutes of audible dialogue in the entire episode, but the story is still told, almost silent movie style, with sound effects only. It’s probably the most episodic episode as well, and can be watched out of order without losing any important seasonal arc information.
Am I still a fan of BoJack Horseman? Yes, I am. I think Season 2 was the high-water mark for this series so far, but I liked this season as well. My appreciation of it may continue to grow with time. I’m still reeling from the darker moments.
Firewater’s Season 3 Report Card: A
I know that’s the same letter grade I gave Season 2, so you may be thinking “That’s Too Much, Man!” But, even though I liked Season 2 a bit better, the difference wasn’t enough for me to drop the letter grade to an A- or B+. It’s still solid television.