“I don’t understand how people live. It’s amazing to me that people wake up every morning and say ‘Yeah, another day, let’s do it!’ How do people do it? I don’t know how.”
– BoJack Horseman
If you have yet to acquaint yourself with Netflix’s first original animated series for adults, then what the hell are you still doing sitting here reading this? But seriously, if you haven’t seen the show, it comes highly recommended from this stranger on the internet, and if for some unthinkable reason that doesn’t immediately convince you to watch it, I suppose I could offer a quick summary.
BoJack Horseman is a dark comedy/drama set in a world with anthropomorphic animals- but that doesn’t really have anything to do with the show’s plot… like at all (so just accept it & move on). The star (and source of the show’s name) is none other than BoJack Horseman, a (yep, you guessed it) horse/man actor and washed up star of the old-but-gold ’90s sitcom Horsin’ Around.
But that plot summary doesn’t even begin to do the show justice. The series encompasses so much (a satirical analysis of celebrity culture and the film industry, social commentary on key issues in today’s society, and a powerful analysis into the darkest recesses of the human- or animal -soul, just to name a few) that you’d be hard-pressed not to find something you like. The show brings together a slew of colourful and diverse characters, each dealing with their own struggles to cope with and understand the chaotic nature of life in their own way, each finding support and opposition as they cross paths.
Fair warning: season 1 starts off more fartsy than artsy, so if you find yourself thinking back to this high praise and wondering why you keep letting yourself get talked into doing things by strangers on the internet, just remember that it does get better. People on the internet are never wrong.
The series finds BoJack struggling with a lack of purpose, a dangerous amount of self-loathing, and a seemingly unquenchable desire to launch himself back into the spotlight. Despite his apparent enthusiasm for said task, somehow BoJack always ends up second-guessing himself- will this accomplishment actually make him happy? Is he just grasping at straws? Does he even deserve happiness?- and be it intentional or otherwise, more often than not his efforts fall victim to self-sabotage. His existential crises escalate as the series progresses, and before long he’s an absolute fucking mess.
Just like me, in other words.
While BoJack and I aren’t perfect matches -in matters of money, fame and sexual partners BoJack seems to have me beat by quite a bit- I still can’t help but feel a certain connection to the severely flawed protagonist.
The fact that the television character I relate to most is a bitterly cynical anthropomorphic horse with self-destructive tendencies, a highly addictive personality and a severe case of depression probably says a lot about my current state of affairs- none of it good.
But that’s what makes the show so fantastic. For all its eccentric animal characters, BoJack Horseman is a series that perfectly exemplifies what it is to be human.
We are flawed. We’re vulnerable, and we’re selfish, insecure, self-destructive, and weak. But we still try. We fuck things up and we make a huge mess and we wonder if there’s even a way back- and then we try again. We hurt the ones we love, and we hurt the ones who love us, but there’s something to be said for having been loved in the first place, and maybe the world’s not so bad after all, if even after all the things you’ve said and done people still root for you to come out on top.
And it’s not just you. It’s all of us. BoJack Horseman shows us that no one is safe from the dreaded existential crisis, and no one is alone in it, either. Everyone has those days, when they can’t seem to find a reason to keep going, a purpose to define their existence, a key to unlock the door to happiness. We’re all struggling to figure it out.
But the most important aspect of this beautiful show is also its arguably most subtle message: that you need to forgive yourself.
If I can still hope that BoJack makes it out okay even after all the shitty things he’s done, then maybe redemption isn’t out of the question for me. That’s the show’s message: that sure, people fuck up all the time, but if you can find it in yourself to forgive this horse, then you can learn to forgive yourself too.
Sure, the way back is long and hard, and sometimes -hell, a lot of times- we slip and we lose our footing and we fall back to the bottom of the pit again, but we get back up again, and we dust off our knees and we get back to it.
After all, as a wise baboon once said: “It gets easier. Every day it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier.”