Imagine you’ve known a man for years… like BoJack Horseman, for example.
He’s a famous Hollywood actor. But he has a messy life. He’s an alcoholic. He’s a drug addict. Still, you care for him.
You know he’s prone to making bad decisions. You don’t know that two of his decisions ruined the lives of two people. One girl was a teenager when he tried to have sex with her (she is also his ex’s daughter.) The second person overdosed on heroin he gave her (back in the 90s, this woman used to be his co-star on Horsin’ Around, the sitcom where he played her dad).
All of these things are true and provable. A journalist could write a damning expose about this guy, and all the evil things he represents. In the age of #MeToo, this is inevitable.
If a front page article in the Times suddenly told you about the two terrible things he did, would you still care for him? Even if he just got out of rehab, all self-aware, apologetic, and clean? Would it all just go away now that he’s a better man?
No, it wouldn’t. He knows that. He would tell you that “All you can change is you.”
BoJack Horseman — a cartoon show with animals for characters — is the only show on air that has seriously and directly responded to current events. There are jokes about how corporate acquisitions have warped journalism into clickbait; how depression and “wellness” have been repackaged into a commodity; how Smart Home technology enables ridiculous laziness; how monopolization in America is creating corporate conglomerates like AOL-Time-Warner-Pepsico-Viacom-Halliburton-Skynet-Toyota-Trader-Joe’s.
Of these very familiar issues, BoJack focuses most on #MeToo. Everyone knows it’s standard procedure to bring up men’s poor behavior on social media, ruin their Hollywood careers (temporarily or permanently), and then move on to the next bad guy. BoJack Horseman turns this familiar story upside down by making the viewer empathize with the bad guy.
Despite all he’s done, BoJack has changed-but does that undo attempting sex with Penny, a minor? Does it undo Sarah Lynn’s death?
Six seasons in, the show has been consistently exceptional and this final season is the best one yet. We’re only halfway through — the second half of season six airs on January 31, 2020.
Whatever happens to BoJack, it will be hard to watch. But we’ll all be better for having seen it.