First to note would be the structure and pacing of the season. Both feel all over the place. There is no central plot, no spine, at the core of this season like the previous ones. There are no attempts to write a book, preparing for awards seasons, or trying to discover if someone is your estranged daughter. There are still threads that trance through the season but all of them feel flimsy and weak or, worst off all, promising but underdeveloped. None of the character’s stories even overlap much. Each is just doing their own thing separately and it feels as if there are 4 different shows going on at once.
While Bojack has never shied away with playing with episode formats, having episodes with no dialogue or others with a character’s inner monologue constantly accompanying their actions almost half of Season 5’s episodes do something out of the ordinary with their structure. While this is certainly admirable attempt in application here it further adds to the feeling of the whole season being disorganized.
The titular Bojack Horseman has always been the most interesting character on the show. The depth and contradictions inherent within him make, while not likable, interesting to watch. Season 5 though did not to right by him. Bojack’s main story, that of his attempt to improve himself beyond the cynical, alcoholic asshole that he is or to completely self-destruct seems to just tread water this entire season before sinking below the water. The addition of his addiction to opioids adds nothing to his dimensionality as he is already possessed so many vices and dependencies.
At the end of this season, Bojack is no longer empathetic. While he was never sympathetic, he was a character that on a dark level, could be related with. But, when he physically chokes out a co-star with no justification other than being high with both him and his co-star agreeing if it wouldn’t be a bad career move for her to press charges Bojack should be in jail, he loses this. The brilliance writing wise of both the New Mexico incident and the death of Sara Lynn was how murky both of them were. Bojack was responsible in both situation but other people were also making decisions just as much as he was. This time, there is no excuse and he now feels unsalvageable. Especially with previous episode making such a point about how Hollywood abusers should not be forgiven.
The single biggest hooks left from season 4, his newfound sister Hollyhock, is completely ignored this season. She was not used at all to help pull Bojack upwards out of his misery as the previous season hinted at and she only appeared in two episodes. This relationship was the single most interesting one left as it would give Bojack something to care about other than himself. Bojack’s decision to go to rehab for his addition is not because of her prompting or to be better for her as would have made thematic sense but instead is brought about by Diane.
Diane, similar to Bojack, continued to make herself more and more unlikable and more of a hypocritical asshole than ever before. Now, Bojack Horseman is, of course, a show about unlikable assholes but the show has always been very good about calling out and punishing their characters for this. Diane now seems immune to this. She manipulates her friends and sleeps with her ex-husband and blames him and at the end, she gets what she wants on her terms without earning it through work or emotional growth. More and more of the blame for her and Mr. Peanutbutter’s failed marriage is Her and Bojack’s friendship continues to become more and more toxic and throughout the season it hardly seems like they are friends at all. So it makes no thematic sense why she is the one to convince him to go to rehab.
Mr. Peanut Butter and Todd no longer have any reason to be in the show. Mr. Peanut Butter was originally the foil to Bojack. He was the nice, happy guy who everyone liked as opposed to the sad depressed horse. He was a simple caricature as opposed to the fleshed out mess that is Bojack. That was why he worked, as a counterpoint. This season though he is becomes just another asshole who can not address his problems. He loses his narrative purpose. This is similar to how Todd has been for the past two seasons. Previously, he had a purpose as the humanizing quality for Bojack. He would either bring out Bojack’s good side or see how horribly Bojack treats those who care about him. Now though, he and Bojack hardly even interact. Instead, Todd is just around for wacky hijinks that take away from any episode where they are heavily featured. He just stays around because Aaron Paul is one of the producers.
Princess Carolyn has a nice story this Season but even that feels over drawn. It was something that could have been wrapped up well in a single episode but it stretched itself out through the whole season loosing its poignancy in doing so.
The entire show of Bojack Horseman now feels beyond its expiration date. It has not gone rotten or sour yet, but certainly stale. The writing is no longer as sharp as it once was. It is now in a rut, repeating the same thing that it always has. Perhaps if the 6th Season is truly the shows last it will find its footing and be able to finish strong but faith has been shaken. Nothing happens this season, watch the monologue episode and maybe the Vietnam episode but beyond that, it isn’t really worth the time.