It is hard not to sound effusive or repetitive when talking about a series as good as Bojack Horseman. But, to tell you the truth, Bojack is one of the best shows currently on television and it deserves every drop of praise it receives. Season Five has just been released and the series is still just as clever, hilarious, and emotionally devastating as ever.
While it is impossible to find a bad episode this season, two in particular stand out above the rest; ‘Free Churro’ and ‘Showstopper’. ‘Free Churro’ is a 20 minute uninterrupted monologue in the form of a eulogy delivered by Bojack at his mother’s funeral. As he rambles about his turbulent and unhealthy relationship with his parents, pausing occasionally to exchange off-side banter with the audience, the sound guy, and also his mother’s coffin, we get another unfiltered insight into how damaged Bojack is and the role his parents played in damaging him so. Bojack has done a number of concept episodes, but none have been quite as raw or powerful as this.
Throughout season five, we see Bojack spiralling into an addiction to prescription painkillers, struggling to come to terms with his past wrongdoings, and we also see his difficulty separating his work life from his personal life. Together, this culminates in the spectacular episode, ‘Showstopper’, in which the episode jarringly cuts between Bojack’s real life and an episode of his new TV show Philbert. Both Bojack and the viewers are left in a constant state of uncertainty as to which scenes are ‘real’ and which are from Philbert. ‘Showstopper’ is unsettling and deeply uncomfortable as Bojack becomes increasingly disoriented, paranoid, erratic, and violent.
Every cast member brings their ‘A game’ this season, with consistently nuanced performances, but specific praise must go to Will Arnett and Amy Sedaris. Arnett, as always, embodies Bojack perfectly and gives a stand out performance in ‘Free Churro’. Sedaris, who plays Princess Caroline, has always been a highlight of the show but she shines more than ever this season. This is particularly apparent when she is playing the teenage Princess Caroline in the excellent flashback episode ‘The Amelia Earhart Story’ which gives us more of Princess Caroline’s triumphant yet tragic backstory than we have ever seen before.
In addition to being spectacularly written and acted as always, Bojack has never been more visually appealing. The animation looks notably more fluid and detailed, ranging from the intricate character designs to the backgrounds.
One of the most interesting aspects of this season specifically is how self aware and meta it is. Following the premier of Philbert, Diane has a horrified realisation that people seem to relate to the protagonist despite the terrible things he has done. The parallels between Bojack Horseman and Philbert are obvious. Both series are named after their protagonist; a deeply troubled anti-hero with a checkered past. In a season rife with messages about the dangers of normalising damaging behaviour, the writers seem to be sending a message that while it is natural to relate to Bojack somewhat, he is not a healthy person, and that we as an audience should neither idolise him nor use his character to excuse or rationalise our own harmful actions.
Bojack Horseman has, yet again, delivered a sensational season of thought-provoking, funny and deeply moving television.
Image: Netflix via Wikimedia Commons