‘Bojack Horseman’ blends existential dread with puns, offbeat comedy


Paradoxes are always fun ways of looking at the world. Some of the most creative pieces of art and literature are the result of setting two opposing themes or ideas against one another. By doing so, a creator highlights key features or points of the two separate things.

Netflix original “Bojack Horseman” is a series that manages to live in this paradox zone, meshing the existential dread of life with vivid colors and pun laced visuals of an animated show. The series follows the titular character, Bojack (Will Arnett) a washed-up sitcom star from the ‘90s, as he floats through life.

The new season of the show revolves around Bojack’s family, a Governor’s election and the development of asexual identity. Being a show that features both humans and anthropomorphic animals, the series is able to track the development of characters like Todd (Aaron Paul), and the perpetually cheerful Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins). What “Bojack Horseman” does better than most is the perfect blending of these real life struggles and the humor that it can derive from its simple premise.

The main plotline of the season is the recovery of Bojack from his most recent spiral, after inadvertently causing the death of his former co-star Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal) while on an episode long bender. Bojack runs away from Los Angeles for a couple of months, taking residence in his family’s old lake house. This setting is used to flashback to the early years of Bojack’s mother (Wendie Malick) and the struggles of a previous generation.

While Bojack is hiding away, his supposed daughter Hollyhock (Wendie Malick) has appeared at his L.A. house wanting to meet her absent father. In what is one of the best running jokes of the season, Hollyhock has no desire to let Bojack in her life, having grown up with eight fathers living in a gay, polyamorous relationship. This leads Hollyhock to have eight last names, causing confusion in situations like hospital visits and introductions. In reality, Hollyhock is searching for her mother, to help her fill out a picture of her family life.

As Bojack begins to unravel family secrets while coming to terms with his poor life choices, the show places an equally important amount of time on Todd’s storyline. In the previous season, Todd came to the realization that he was asexual, when a childhood friend wanted to sleep with him. Todd is generally the comic relief of the series, but giving him this storyline allows him to grow as the character. The show and its writers are nothing but respectful in developing a coming out story.

Todd’s main source of conflict is his dislike of putting labels on things, preferring to not think about these heavier life choices. The first big step he makes during the season is joining an asexual support group, and coming to terms with this label. By the end of the season, Todd has come to understand his sexuality through crazy clown dentist schemes and personal reflection.

This reflection of human struggles through a comedic lens in a heartbreaking and awe inspiring way is the key ability of “Bojack Horseman.” The show is one of the innovators in the growing world of adult animation, proving that just because something is animated, doesn’t mean it’s trivial or juvenile.