BoJack Horseman: Season 5 — a review

BoJackS5

You probably knew already that Season 6 of BoJack Horseman is the final season of this wonderfully bleak and bitter animated series which includes both human and anthropomorphized animal characters. The first half of the 16-episode season drops on Netflix in less than a week, with the second half coming early in 2020.

It seems I started this review of Season 5 by dropping a huge downer bombshell. I apologize if you’re just getting started with the show and didn’t know it was coming to an end. Please, don’t shoot the messenger here.

More than likely, I’m going to blurt out a few more spoilers along the way. You have been warned!

This is a review of Season 5, which consisted of 12 episodes. The season is built around the television comeback of our favorite manic-depressive equine actor, who is starring in an edgy new drama titled Philbert. The show-within-the-show features BoJack as the antihero detective, and the series is being produced for WhatTimeIsItRightNow.com, a website designed around giving web-surfers the accurate time which has decided to get into the streaming game.

As usual, BoJack delivers its usual skewering of Hollywood (or, “Hollywoo,” an inside joke fans of the series are all in on), and it’s not making fun of any cable or streaming drama in particular. No, it’s making fun of all of them. I’m sure some Hollywood insiders pick up on references that I miss, but who hasn’t heard stories about pretentious, megalomaniac showrunners before. Philbert‘s showrunner is voiced by none other than Academy-Award-winner Rami Malek. This has been another memorable acting role for Mr. Malek.

At first, all of our favorite series characters seem to be spinning off into their own individual story arcs. The series Philbert brings them all back into each other’s orbits again. Princess Caroline (Amy Sedaris) is producing the series, while still chasing her goal of becoming an adoptive parent. Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul), as usual, falls backwards into success and becomes the CEO of WhatTimeIsItRightNow.com. Although Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tomkins) and Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie) get divorced, they find themselves back in each other’s lives as Mr. Peanutbutter tries to toughen up his image and takes a role on BoJack’s show, and Diane, somewhat predictably, becomes a writer on the show.

While all of the voice actors do a terrific job on the series, none of it would work if BoJack Horseman wasn’t played to spot-on perfection by Will Arnett. You could say that Arnett has made a career of playing damaged self-obsessed characters, and I couldn’t argue the point. But, I have to believe that he’s acting. By all accounts, he seems like a good guy.

One episode, “Free Churro” is essentially one long monologue delivered by Arnett, and it’s another terrific hits-you-in-the-feels episode. It seems like this series offers up at least one of these in each season, and when BoJack goes for drama, it’s about as good as anything on television. And, it’s a cartoon.

This is BoJack’s show, a fact that would be impossible to forget even if his name wasn’t the series title. But, the people responsible for creating this cartoon realize that the viewers like all of the characters, and each seems to get showcased a bit more this season. Each character is broken in their individual ways, but the variety makes the depressed and depressing character of BoJack a little more palatable.

I can’t recall seeing Vincent Adultman, or Jessica Biel trying to eat everyone, this season, but I think Margo Martindale makes an appearance.

While we get the usual barrage of animal puns—Winducks glass cleaner, a flight to Turkey listed on the airport departure board as “Stuffed,” Warbler Brothers studios . . . like I said, the usual—and the various sight gags that make certain viewers hit the pause button too frequently, the series does attempt to tackle weightier subjects you wouldn’t expect in an animated series. Depression and substance abuse have become expected topics by now. But, in this season, we also get story threads centered around the #MeToo movement, racial identity (ballsy in a show where the lead Asian character is played by a non-Asian actress), and human sexuality (with Todd as a confirmed asexual), in addition to the usual skewering of the Hollywood lifestyle.

I was a bit disappointed that the next season will be the last one for BoJack Horseman. At the same time, I’m happy that we’re getting sixteen episodes to be split into two separate release dates.

Firewater’s Penultimate-Season-of-a-Landmark-Adult-Cartoon-Series Report Card: A

A

No surprises here. It’s still an A from me. I think this season was slightly better than Season 4, but not as good as Season 3, although I gave all of them the same grade. If you’re not already watching this, you should. Or, you can wait and binge-watch all of the episodes after the final season drops.

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