Series finales are always tough, and they can often make or break a show’s lasting reputation. Unfortunately, we remember the bad far better than the good — so how does Bojack Horseman‘s finale stack up?
Bojack’s last season split into 2 parts, with the final episodes airing in late January. That little break gave fans a minute to reminisce over the highs and lows of the series, with the consensus being that the highs were far larger and more gratifying than weak points were disappointing. Personally, I can’t ever say that I was disappointed in a direction the show took, because there was always a feeling that even if it felt like a step off center for that character, that was kind of the point. People take steps off center all the time and part of life is deciding whether you need to get back to center, or if the path you’re on now is the one you should have been on all along.
The strength of Bojack Horseman was its ability to show a vulnerability in all of its character. Even characters that seem to have it all together, like Diane and Princess Caroline, eventually had to face problems they were actively ignoring or distracting themselves from. And in the case of Mr. Peanut Butter, we saw how a person’s disconnect from reality effects all of their relationships.
The complexity of the characters and the deep interwoven narratives made Bojack Horseman a stand out show, with a unique understanding that people don’t really change, arcs don’t get completed, and happiness is fleeting. It was depressing, but it was true. How do you conclude a story about people who realize there are no ends and no beginnings?
Focusing on the final episode, we learn that a year has passed while Bojack has been in prison and in that time Princess Caroline has gotten married to her assistant Judah. Bojack asks Princess Caroline if this is really what she wants, and she says it is, but there is a distinct feeling that it’s not her true happiness, just the closest she believes she’ll ever come to it. I think this encapsulates all the show has been trying convey over the years, and for that I’m happy with this ending to Princess Caroline’s story.
A less conclusive ending came for Diane and Bojack’s story. Diane shares that she is engaged to her boyfriend, Guy, but more importantly, she admits that being friends with Bojack has not been healthy for her. It is suggested that Diane may drop him completely. In the final frames of the show, Bojack and Diane sit silently, a tension hanging between them. It looks as if both want to say something, but neither do. Again, it feels as if this is not Diane’s true happiness, but the illusion of it. Diane in particular has struggled the past few seasons, and for her to end in one of the lowest places of all the characters is interesting and raw.
Despite these moments feeling real, though, the finale doesn’t quite feel “satisfying”. Perhaps it’s because Bojack is far from ok. He doesn’t know how he’ll fare outside of prison, he worries he’ll relapse again. He shares a sweet moment with Todd, where Todd tries to explain that “turning yourself around” is the true point of life (and the hokey pokey song). This makes Bojack feel only marginally better.
I think for this series, there is no true satisfying ending. The truth is, there are no ends and no beginnings. People don’t get to be perpetually happy. There is no solution to everything. In a weird way, Bojack’s finale conveys this, while still putting on a mask of happiness.
And that’s what it’s all about.