BoJack Horseman, from creator Raphael Bob Waksburg, is like television, but better. At the moment of typing this, I’m convinced it is the greatest show of all time. I’ll probably change my mind, I’m contrary like that.
Horseman, a horse standing on two hooves, often in sneakers, is a washed-up 90s TV star. He was in a wholesome, typically family- oriented sitcom called Horsin’ Around. But now he spends the majority of his middle age in an alcoholic haze, fucking random animals and women (he’s not fussy) and getting into scrapes of his own making. His hubris is such that he should give a shit, but he’s so numbed by life that he can’t.
Displaying all the traits associated with NPD (Narcisssistic Personality Disorder) he should be obnoxious, disagreeable and a character not to root for. Yet, as with all the best drawn characters, he’s still somehow warm, vulnerable and funny, no matter who he’s screwing over.
What helps is the incredible writing. It’s funny, filled with pathos and above all, honesty. People fail, resent others, love deeply, talk trash and lose all sense of direction in their lives.
Princess Carolyn, his plain-talking, workaholic cat agent, is in permanent danger of burning out altogether- a sharp tongued woman who nonetheless has a soft liquid centre.
Mr Peanutbutter, his friend and arch rival, is a lovably stupid dog who is an actor and TV presenter with a parallel career to BoJack’s. He’s feckless but caring, prone to misunderstanding the needs of others, but all his ideas are coming from a good place.
Then there’s Diane Nguyen, BoJack’s off/on love interest. She’s a Vietnamese feminist writer who ghost writes BoJack’s biography, and she’s a career gal who can often screw up, be lazy and emotionally detached, but who ultimately means well.
Throw in ditsy stoner, childlike Todd Chavez, BoJack’s best friend who crashed on his couch and somehow never left, and you’ve got the most relatable, flawed but compelling creations yet.
Nobody learns: they fight, fall back in and then just keep going, no matter how ill-advised. There are references you won’t find anywhere else to Barbara Kruger, JD Salinger and Freud (not even Frasier would cite the former in any plotlines) and the pointlessness of pop culture and meaningful human contact alike. And while this sounds utterly miserable… It is. Utterly morose. There are episodes that hurt, and I feel utterly inconsolable watching them- even though I know it’s just a surreal animation. People die, break up and hurt like they’ve never been wanted.
But it’s also hilarious, infused with great zingers and sight gags that get richer with repeated viewing. Friends can suck it. BoJack Horseman is the real thing.