There are movie shows that only require a couple of words to explain. They perfectly fit into a single genre and they just do exactly what you'd expect them to do. Others are a little more complex, they play with different genres, have a more complex plot, and you just feel like you need to give a little more detail to really explain what the show is all about. Well, and then there's BoJack Horseman. A genre defying, animated show about a talking horse during its midlife crisis. No matter how much you try to make sense out of it in a single sentence, it won't work. And no matter what you expect when you start watching the show, you'll be proven wrong more than once. To move the conclusion to the front, BoJack Horseman might be the most brilliant TV show I've ever seen and is nothing less than a modern masterpiece. As always, there will be some spoilers for early episodes but nothing you won't see in your first sitting.
But let's take one step at a time and look at the key facts first:
Number of seasons: 6
Number of episodes: 77
Originally Aired: 2014 - 2020
So let's try and do the impossible: Explain what BoJack Horseman exactly is. At heart, it could best be explained as a tragic sitcom, cleverly combining both comedy and tragedy and creating an unbelievable deep mix of both. It's animated in an what some would call rather simplistic drawing style and yes, there are speaking animals in the show. The name-giving main character, BoJack Horseman, is a speaking horse after all. Many will come to the show expecting rather absurd comedy because of that. There certainly is a lot of that, but it's just one of its many facets. In the world of BoJack Horseman, both humans and humanoid animals live side-by-side. The fact itself is never a topic of discussion, it's just what it is. The setup is mostly used for some absurd along the line jokes and play on words, but it's also sometimes the focus of a whole episode. Nevertheless, ultimately the show would work just as well if all characters were human. The whole humanoid animals setting is just used on top of that, making it even more interesting.
Our protagonist is a mediocre actor in its midlife crisis. He's had one great hit show back in the day called Horsin' Around. It's portrayed as a classical 80s/90s sitcom with mild humor and a lot of senseless feel-good nonsense. Ever since, he didn't get to play any major roles. He still earned more than enough to make a comfortable live, though, and this really is how the whole show gets going. BoJack still believes that he would be able to play a lot bigger roles. At the same time, he's drowning in his own misery, unable to escape from alcoholism, drug abuse, and the whole palette of a dark human (or horse?) mind.
The first episodes are starting rather slow and you get the feeling that you are watching a more or less standard, although at times hilarious, comedy show. Each episode has its own issue of the week, although there are already some connecting arks throughout these early stories. As the first season progresses, you start to realize more and more that there's something more to the whole show. BoJack Horseman is amazingly different than any of its peers. It's hilariously funny in one second just to turn to pure agony and deepest depression in the next. It's not always enjoyable to watch in a sense that you are just sitting there, having a good time. But it's always worthwhile to do so. Often times, when you finish an episode you'll just sit there, thinking about what the hell just happened.
That's the real beauty of it all, It's entertaining, fun, hilarious, but it's so much more as well. I've never seen topics like depression, drug addiction, or alcoholism portrayed in a way that even comes close to what BoJack Horseman manages to do. It's close up, unfiltered, and it feels so real that it's going to touch your heart if you let it. The show made me cry several times during its run. I rarely cry about anything, but an animated, speaking horse managed to do so on several occasions - tells you a lot about the quality of the whole show.
One of the central topics of the show is that there's no redemption for your past deeds. There's no way to change what you did or what happened in the past. All you can do is learn to live with it, forgive yourself for what you've done and learn to make the most of your life yourself. It's dark from the beginning and it only gets darker from there. Watching BoJack loose control over his life bit by bit is hilarious and frightening at the same time. I've never related to characters and their actions as much as I did in this show. I believe that there's a lot of BoJack Horseman in all of us. Some are able to cope with it better than others, but deep down, we all know the feelings he's dealing with it. That's probably what makes the show seem so realistic. At times, it doesn't matter at all that you are watching at speaking animals, they are more real persons than what you'll see in almost any other TV show!
Each season has it's own central story with a build up and a conclusion towards the end. At the same time, there's a season spanning story arc that more or less is built from the first to the last episode of the whole show. I won't give away anything, but the ending of each season as well as the whole show always feels deeply rewarding and well thought out. At the same time, it always opens up new questions, new things to ponder about. The 11th episode (15th for the last season which had more episodes) is always something special. The whole show is awesome but the episodes before the season finale might be the most brilliant pieces of art I've ever seen on television.
Yes, that's a 9.9 with 11,240 people voting on IMDB and it's well deserved. These episodes are so different from what you are used to on TV, so drastic, so scary, you'll have to see for yourself to really understand.
BoJack Horseman dares to be different in basically every single aspect. It gets away with doing things that simply shouldn't work because of that. There's an episode where not a single word is spoken until the last seconds of the show. There's an episode that completely consists of BoJack giving a speech, the screen only showing him standing there, talking the whole time. This should be boring, it shouldn't work, yet it had me sit there just staring at the screen, absorbing everything he was talking about.
The whole show is brilliant through and through. Yet, it isn't for everybody. I've told a lot of people about the show and they either ended up loving it or hating it. Those that loved it watched it all through the end, those that hated it quit after the first few episodes. Not everybody will be able to look behind the silliness, the simplistic animations, the fact that you are following a speaking horse. But if you can, you will be rewarded with what is the best animated TV show of all times and maybe the best show I've ever seen in my whole life. BoJack Horseman is something that had never been done before and that probably will never be done again. If you haven't seen it - go watch it on Netflix, it's well worth your time!
And that's all from me for today. Thank you all for reading and see you next time!