Netflix’s hit comedy/drama/satire/soap opera cartoon BoJack Horseman has taken its titular character to hell and back again several times over, and now it’s finally time to say goodbye.
BoJack Horseman was a fly-under-the-radar kind of show that suddenly burst onto the scene and revived the adult cartoon genre, marking an era of new shows of the kind from streaming giants like Netflix and Hulu. At first, the idea of an animal/human hybrid alternate version of Hollywood — called “Hollywoo” after the pilot episode — with the lead being a depressed, alcoholic, washed-up sitcom star was a tough sell for many. But it was just niche enough to work, and it quickly gained an audience of enthusiasts who spread the word about it. With big names like Will Arnett and Aaron Paul at the helm, the show soon caught the buzz it was looking for, and is now known for its biting satire surrounding the entertainment culture especially, as well as its unique episode formats and deeply honest emotional bits. It’s truly a show unlike any other, and how do you end something like that?
The answer is yet unclear as Netflix released only half of the final season, with the second half being released in the spring. Either way, there is a definite feeling of finality to these 8 episodes. It feels like everything is coming to a head, and even though the show prides itself on saying that endings are things of fiction, it has to make one for itself.
For a few seasons now, BoJack Horseman has meandered through the lives of its several characters — at times feeling a bit lagging with its slow pacing. But as I was watching these episodes, I was struck by how far all of the characters had come, and how unusual to see characters move through so many stages in life at a speed you actually see in real life in the television world. Often times, the first girl the guy meets ends up being The One. The married couple may fight, but they always figure it out in the end. This is not the case with this series.
That’s not to say that no characters get happy endings. Most do, in fact — or well, I presume they will in the next 8 episodes. Princess Caroline and Todd, for example, have grown tremendously from supporting characters to well-developed, fleshed-out people (or animal). Likewise, Diane and Mr. Peanut Butter have evolved as well, though in very different and unexpected ways.
The ways in which BoJack Horseman goes against our expectation of character development is one of the many reasons why I’ve grown so fond of it over the years. Not only does it take shots at Hollywood from a point blank range, but it also goes the extra mile by providing innovative and refreshing character arcs, with season 6 being no exception.
Season 6 feels like a more mature, focused, and purposeful version of BoJack Horseman, mirroring the way the character himself has grown. It’s not jokes and puns anymore (though there’s still plenty of that) — it’s industry criticism, character portraits, and self-reflection. The issues they decide to tackle are both timely and lasting, often the point being that the social justice issues we worry about in Hollywood today are not so different from the ones we faced in the past, and they will all be manipulated by the system in power. It’s cynical, sure, but also refreshingly honest.
But don’t worry, it’s still a ton of fun too. There’s antics, there’s in-jokes, there’s hilarity all around, but it feels just a little bit quieter, like a little joke you make when you say goodbye to cover how much it hurts to leave. And that’s the perfect feeling that I want from BoJack Horseman.
I think these episodes, while not reaching the peak of the show, do carry a lot of weight. I enjoyed watching them, and I’m curious to see how everything will be resolved come the last 8 episodes. BoJack Horseman is as brilliant and as needed as ever.
Season 6, part 1 score: A-
BoJack Horseman is now streaming on Netflix.