On August 22nd, 2014, mere months before the season premieres of Family Guy, South Park, and The Simpsons and five days removed from creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s 30th birthday, a shockwave arrived on the adult animation scene that would help shape the course of the industry for the next six seasons. Like the aforementioned series, BoJack Horseman featured all sorts of hilarity among a stellar cast, but something was quite different.
While Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin used a more comedic approach to over-indulgence of alcohol, for years titular character BoJack used booze and drugs to deal with deep personal anguish. Early on, we had to get by the fact that BoJack is an anthropomorphic horse character and that the newly-branded “Hollywoo” is teaming with animal and human characters all just trying to make a living just like the rest of us. It’s a premise that isn’t completely unlike what we saw out of Duckman, but the dramatic pathos that required binge-viewing in one of the few series that would regularly get renewed for 13 episodes (except for season 6 which was ordered for 16) is the lightning bolt that struck every viewer into realizing that we had something from another world.
That’s why I’m not ready to say goodbye to BoJack Horseman. Regardless of the fact that the series was probably canceled as a result of the recent unionization of the show (ditto for Tuca & Bertie), I can’t imagine why someone at Netflix would think that a pile of shit like that new Ragnarok is a better investment than additional seasons of BoJack. Season Six Part Two continues to take creative chances that the franchise is known for. The direction of the series, more specifically any of the episodes that featured Diane Nguyen trying to figure out her two books (by the way, Alison Brie is extra special this last half of the season), is the best the show has ever done.
The plot, dangerous. Exactly what animation is supposed to be. With all of the talk of who gets canceled because of silly social media comments or whatever, the producers of BoJack Horseman take this head-on by putting their star in the driver’s seat of being “Hollywoob” canceled, and the slow destruction and possible reconstruction for whatever that means. From going to prison to near-death experiences, BoJack feels the wraith of a Los Angeles press starved for clicks and willing to cut off the heads of whomever gets in their way to do just that. For Diane’s part, she’s far removed from show business and instead focuses on her writing and coming to grips with the pros and cons of medicated happiness that may potentially stunt creative freedom. We even get a bit more invested in her boyfriend “Guy” voiced by LaKeith Steinfeld, dealing with his own troubles of raising a teenage son in the midst of what looks to be a messy break up. And as a journalist, I couldn’t help but feel a bit inclined to mention Paget Brewster’s excellent take as “Paige” as she goes bananas in her investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Sarah Lynn (voice star Kristen Schaal is on another level this go-round).
Unfortunately, some of the show’s best-known characters get a bit more maligned with all of the hullabaloo surrounding the aforementioned. Jesse (Aaron Paul) attempting to reconnect with his parents seemed a tad sloppy and probably rushed whilst all of the fun in watching Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) balance being a mother and a growing figurehead in the business is more or less halted. As a result, the conclusions for both come off as more rudimentary and almost too status quo, a term that is almost never breathed in the same sentence as BoJack Horseman.
For fans of the series wanting to see more, I think there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The finale episode certainly leaves open the possibility of more BoJack Horseman, even if it might be in the form of a spin-off surrounding Diane and Guy. There is going to be a time when Netflix will be yearning for more original content as the rise of the streaming wars comes to pass and acquired content will be more limited. BoJack Horseman is a perennial showcase for the streaming service at the Annies, Emmys, and elsewhere, and the producers are just too fucking talented. For Christ’s sake, this is the show that gave us Raph, Kate Purdy (Undone) , Lisa Hanawalt (Tuca & Bertie), and others who I think are just now scratching the surface on what will be an influx of content in the years to come.