BoJack Horseman is a cartoon.
I don’t know why I feel like I have to qualify what I’m about to say by leading with that statement. It’s a cartoon with anthropomorphized animals in leading roles, such as what we’ve grown accustomed to in kiddie fare since I was a child. Which was a long time ago, by the way.
However. . .
This is not a cartoon for children. And, even four seasons in, it still manages, at times, to be more emotionally honest, awkward, and—sometimes—downright uncomfortable, than most of what passes for drama on television these days. Like other well-drawn characters in television past and present, I both love and hate BoJack Horseman, the character. That puts him in such rarefied company as Tony Soprano, Walter White, Vic Mackey, and J.R. Ewing, among many others you could probably name.
I love BoJack Horseman, the series, though.
Season 4 did not disappoint. In this season, we explore the family history of BoJack (voiced by the irrepressible Will Arnett), learning more about his mother Beatrice (Wendie Malick). Her history helped to generate BoJack’s own personality. As is usually the case, tragedy begets tragedy. BoJack is the product of his environment. BoJack’s story, told largely in flashback as he deals with the death of Sarah Lynn in Season 3, is the most compelling part of Season 4.
Sure, Princess Carolyn (Allison Brie), Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), Diane Nguyen (Amy Sedaris), and Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul) still have their individual arcs, and are about what you expect. Princess Carolyn is trying to get her life together outside of her work. Mr. Peanutbutter is running for governor, Diane is trying to succeed as a journalist, and the both of them are trying to make their marriage work. Todd, forever the Forrest Gump of this show, falls ass-backwards into success as he stumbles from improbable hijinks to his next wacky business venture.
It remains BoJack who carries the bulk of the show on his back. All other story arcs are secondary.
Still, and keep in mind I’m still talking about a cartoon here, BoJack Horseman remains one of the most moving and affecting television series I’ve ever watched. There’s real emotion here.
If you’ve been avoiding this one because it features a talking horse and an incomplete HOLLYWOOD sign, get past this and put it in your Netflix queue now. This is good television.
Firewater’s A-Cartoon-Horse-Made-Me-Cry Report Card: A
SpongeBob Squarepants never had this effect on me.