If you know me personally, you know that I am crazy for a lot of fiction. I love any form of storytelling, whether that is a comic, a book, a videogame, a movie, an anime or a TV show. Being able to tell stories that matter is exciting regardless of the medium it is told. However, there is one single piece of storytelling that most people refuse to watch, no matter what I tell them.
That piece of storytelling genius ladies and gentlemen, is Bojack Horseman. Yes, the show with the anthropomorphic horse that is constantly suggested to you from Netflix. Trust me, (in my humble opinion) it is much better than half of the Netflix produced trash. And today I will tell you why.
Dear readers, this is the first edition of TV shows that you need to watch before you die. Peep the intro.
Patience, patience, patience
We live in a world filled with short attention spans where most people cannot be patient to save their lives. People cannot wait for anything anymore. And this is the first problem that happens when people try to watch Bojack Horseman. They have no patience to see where it leads them. In the subconscious of the majority, animation does not provoke interest (unless it is anime for many).
My point being, most people associate American animation with Family Guy, The Simpsons and South Park or Bob's Burgers for some. This means that people expect fast-paced episodes where chaos ensues and one-liners are flying out of the window with the promise of many laughs. While this does well for the format of the mentioned shows, Bojack Horseman tries to do things differently. For example, Season 1 is not considered to be one of the best. Why? Because it was testing the waters.
An audience needs to be captured, and a show about an anthropomorphic horse in Hollywood is not something a lot of people relate to. However, the creators of the show take their time to explore the world and the characters to set up the premise of the show. Some of the jokes may not land on you, you may not find yourself laughing out loud (some of the jokes are too clever) and you may find the combination of humans and talking animals a bit odd but come on, do you really want to watch quirky teen romances from Netflix for the rest of your life? Live a little.
Expectations are the key.
I have one rule before experiencing anything in life; set your expectations right. What does that mean you snob I hear you think in your small little head. Well my friend , let me explain. Expectations are what can help you enjoy things a little bit more or completely ruin everything that you watch in life. Let me give you an example. Let's say someone suggests you their favourite movie. They analyze it bit by bit and proclaim that it is the best piece of written fiction in the whole entire world. No bias, am I right?
However, when you go and watch it, it does not strike you that good. Maybe you notice cringy dialogue, maybe the pacing is a bit bland, maybe the characters are bad and a million other little stuff. Then you wonder, how can anyone enjoy this.
Let me tell you why, your expectations may have been too high. Your friend promised you the universe but you just couln't see it. You expect the best, but you are given average. That is the problem with this show. You cannot set someone's expectations for Bojack Horseman Even realistically.
Because this show is too much man. (You will get this later if you watch it)
Remember, this show is not a comedy. You are not watching this just to laugh. This does not mean that there are no jokes. The jokes are there, the characters are funny ( as I said, some jokes are too on the tongue, after 3 rewatches there are jokes I still do not get) but it is not just that. Let's move on so we will be on the same wavelength.
The show follows our protagonist Bojack Horseman who has done a very famous TV show in the 90s and is now lost in past-his-famous-years period where he fills the void inside him with booze and drugs. However, it is time for a comeback. The first and second season explore Bojack's attempt to rise back in the Hollywood's elite and his attempts to feel good about himself after all the shitty things he has done throughout his life. His first attempt comes by writing his memoir through his appointed ghost-writer Diane Nguyen. From there on, we are thrown in the dark pit that is Los Angeles and how things are not what they seem.
A tragic story masked as a fun horsey show.
Let me just say this. The beauty of Bojack Horseman lies into its tragedy. Bojack is a dark show that explores wild issues that (as I am aware of) no show explores correctly.
"What kind of dark topics can a show with animated animals explore" i hear you ask.
Well let me tell you; depression, self-destructive behaviour, toxic relationships, abusive parenthood, alcoholism, drug addiction, guilt, grief and many others. This show is animated, because if it was live-action, it wouldn't be able to capture the messages its trying to conceive.
Let us see a spoiler-free example.
This, in my opinion, is the best and most relatable representation of anxiety and self-induged hate that an individual may experience. We can see the overthinking from Bojack's Point of view in terms of not trusting others, hating himself, self-pity ("Don't feel sorry for yourself"), loving himself due to his self proclaimed self-awareness ( "But I know I'm a piece of shit, that makes me better than all the other pieces of shit who don't know they are pieces of shit") and more. This is just the tip of the small iceberg to what this show offers.
It is a direct free fall exploration to the human psyche and the psychology that revolves around it. And for that, we have the characters to thank for. Bojack is not the only problematic main character in the show. We follow others including young writer Diane, the agent Princess Carolyn (one of the best female written characters in all fiction in my opinion), the procclaimed loser Todd and the overly happy Mr Peanutbutter. Each character goes through stages of life that the viewer can relate to. And with that we move on to one of the great parts about Bojack Horseman.
***Let me just say this, I do not relate to Bojack. Nobody should relate to Bojack himself and nobody should see himself as Bojack. Just because some traits of a character are relatable, that doesn't mean you are the character. You should not excuse your shitty actions due to a relatable character on television. Okay? Moving on.
The show allows you to relate to several of the characteristics or the situations that the characters go through. It does a good work of making you see the dark human side of things in a world filled with bright colors and silly animal jokes. For example, one of my favourite quotes comes when Bojack spies to one of the girls he wants to date ( this is a very broad description, as I want to keep this blog as spoiler-free as possible).
Our true colors ruin us
For me this is one of the deepest themes explored in the show. The pretentiousness we portray to everyone outside is a real thing. We are never true pure selves with others. And if you claim that you are, you pretending to yourself.
The bad thing about this is that when we see each other, stripped from our everyday masks, it ruins us. We have to truly pretend everyday of our life until we are with ourselves to gain the gift that is other people's likeability.
The illusion of Love and being complete
This is another view of how real this show can get. We are subconsciously made to think that love is this starstruck emotion that we must feel inside of us which changes the whole course of our brain chemistry. We are made to feel that love is to feel apart of something more than ourselves. To be more than we are. To be complete. But this is not how it works in the real world. Love is a different thing for everybody. Nobody completes anyone. Having a person next to you is something that you should strive to do but it is not your existence's ultimatum. Yourself should be complete before you even touch the thought of love. At the end of the day, settling may be the last thing that us non-romantic people have to do. Accept that the image of love fed to us is not what it is shown as.
However, settling is not as bad as it sounds. As Bojack states, time goes by and you can try and focus on more and more external things but at the end of the day, as he said, everybody loves you but nobody likes you. Time is a brutal concept and it does not stop for anyone. Loneliness will eventually arrive and the regret of not settling or for not falling into the illusion of love will be remembered. Love or not, time is moving, and it will not wait for you.
The nature of our existence.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is THE quote. This quote saved my life. Bojack can easily be passed as a melacholic and depressive show but after 2-3 rewatches, it can literally save your life. As a person who experienced existentalism since his early teens and has been nihilistic about life throughout his first and second university years, this quote has given me a new perspective in life.
There is a lot to analyse about this, so let's begin. Human society has evolved so far that most us (the lucky ones) live without any survival worries. The goal anymore is not just to survive, it is to live. And how do we do that? How do we live? What is one's purpose in this damn floating space rock that we call home but disrespect each day by putting it on fire or keep throwing our trash in? What do we with this time that we are given? I believe that every individual has gone through this train of thought at least twice in their lifetime. This has always been one of humanity's worries. Why are we here? What do we do?
A lot of solutions have been suggested over the years with some including philosophies of life, schools of thoughts and religions. However, some have given up and follow a nihilisitc approach where in short, life can be with no purpose, with no meaning. Anything and everything you do is meaningless. It can be depressive to think about, but it is one easy way out of the melancholy that is existentialism.
However, Bojack's message sends a message of hope that a lot of smartasses will claim that is infront of us. These people are assholes who have not done much thinking in their lives. That message is the enjoyment or gratefulness of now. If we accept the insignificance that we carry as the human species, it is then, and only then that you can enjoy your life. The quote above can be described as a part of the optimistic nihilism or even apart of the philosophical movement of absurdism. Absurdism and Nihilism, while similar, are vastly different. The non existence of a purpose or meaning is not taken as a negative in the absurdist's mindset. It is taken as a strength. Living in a chaotic universe where no meaning exists, you can be your own enlightment in this life. You cannot take all the worries of the world with you. Life constantly goes on and it is in your hand to act accordingly. Enjoy, be grateful for what is given and accept that some times, you will get mad, you will get sad and you will be stomped by the harsh reality. But it doesn't matter. It really doesn't. You are just one speck in an infinite universe that constantly keeps expanding. Your role is to do nothing and be everything. Your enjoyment of life revolves around of what you accept to affect you. Be free of your past and future worries, instead be mindful of your present.
There are tons of great and memorable quotes that explore the nature of society that is crazy to think that it originates from this show. But it fucking does.
A show about fucking animals explores mental health and the human natur better than 13 Reasons Why, a shitty Netflix attempt to cash out on the interest mental health generates.I am not a special in explaining this particular issue, so I will leave you to watch this video if you want.
I could sit here and write about Bojack Horseman for days. I fucking love this show. It is by no means perfect and it is not for everyone (you people disgust me though). I want to let people experience the heartbreaks and the twist and turns of this fantastic show. Your patience will be rewarded with the most real messages one can achieve from a piece of fiction. The nihilistic messages will leave you questioning your entire existence and the search for a better self will begin. I want you to see this show as a form of therapy since seeing things from an outer perspective may give you a chance to truly self-improve.
Again, please, give this a chance and be patient about it.