I always find it curious how relatable Bojack Horseman (the show) is, considering how alien to the experiences of most people Bojack Horseman (the character) is: heâ€™s half-man, half-horse; he doesnâ€™t need to work yet maintains an absolutely palatial lifestyle; he operates on a level of fame akin to David Schwimmer or the guy who played Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air; he always seems to make the absolute worst decision possible with regards to interpersonal relationships.
Maybe itâ€™s that last one that strikes a chord.
Season 3 of Bojack Horseman is sad. Be warned. If you decide to burn through it all in one day, as I did, then prepare yourself for an emotional few hours, after which you will almost certainly need a drink and a lie-down, much like Bojack does, every minute of every day. Marvellous writing that, to allow the audience so thoroughly into a characterâ€™s head.
The main narrative thrust is provided by Bojackâ€™s campaign to win an Oscar- again, not the most relatable of situations for most people (my own ongoing attempts to be noticed by the Academy notwithstanding) but, like the brilliant 30 Rock– where Tracy decided that winning an Oscar was a â€œa good goal for a talented crazy personâ€- they manage to make an utterly dislikeable retch trying to win over the Hollywood Elite bizarrely compelling.
There are other threads (Todd has yet another business venture, Diane still doesnâ€™t know who she is, Princess Carolyn finds it hard to balance work and anything else) but honestly weâ€™ve seen all these before. Thatâ€™s not to say theyâ€™re boring or even poorly-executed but one feels they could have found a few new story possibilities for these characters who are otherwise so well-drawn. For example, thereâ€™s an interesting early arc with Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter which is handled really well but it ends and then doesnâ€™t really come up again. I like the direction in which they took it but I wish there could have been more of it (if you watch the series, youâ€™ll see why there couldnâ€™t have been and youâ€™ll think me sort of stupid for wishing it).
Another complaint I have is that I would have liked more interaction between the characters and a bit more focus on the supporting cast, i.e. people other than Bojack. Donâ€™t get me wrong, Bojack is an complex, layered, extremely funny main character and very interesting to spend time with but so are all the others. I know it sounds strange to say that I wish weâ€™d had more of them when I was just complaining about their story arcs but I think one of the problems is that we had to gloss over a lot of the details of their struggles; also, we needed more of everyone interacting with Bojack, which is usually when the show is at its most vibrant. Only Diane and Princess Carolyn really get any face-time with the mercurial lead and thatâ€™s a shame. Honestly, I would have killed for another conversation like the one in season two where Mr. Peanubutter and Bojack just rip into each other on live television.
What else to say? One canâ€™t deny the artistry of a show which, like earlier episodes of The Simpsons, really makes a case for animated sitcoms: thereâ€™s an episode which is almost entirely silent; flashbacks done in an unsettling, graphic novel style; the now-traditional â€˜character does a lot of drugs and the art gets all trippyâ€™ episode (two of them, actually).
The voice cast is undeniably starry- I counted five Oscar winners/nominees (fitting, given the seasonâ€™s preoccupations). Sometimes this works, sometimes itâ€™s just distracting: Angela Bassett absolutely loses herself in her role as a svengali publicist, but then Kimiko Glenn (Soso from Orange is the New Black) shows up in one episode and I couldnâ€™t hear anything but her other Netflix character. Sheâ€™s not a bad actress, itâ€™s just her voice is very distinctive. (Incidentally, itâ€™s an absolute treat to see- or hear- Mara Wilson again, even if her voice is decidedly different from when she was Mathilda).
Overall, I loved this season but I am quite a fan of Bojack Horseman– something about it speaks to me. This season, like most of the others, is very heavy emotionally, mixed in with some frankly puerile humor (as well as some incredibly refined humor). I like the characters, I find the world theyâ€™ve created interesting and the bare-faced and often depressing existentialism oddly refreshing. I would recommend this show for anyone who was a fan of sitcom in the nineties but then had to grow up and realise that very few things end with a joke.