By Areej Ahmed
Staff TV Critic
In an alternate universe where animals speak and live amongst humans, a horse with depression and substance abuse problems lives in Hollywood. Bojack Horseman, a 50-year-old, has-been television star from the 90’s messily deals with life in a way that was surprisingly relatable for me, given our obvious differences. The show manages to deal with so much in each of its short, 20-something minute episodes. The Netflix Original touches on everything from abortion to the toxic impact Hollywood culture has on child stars (and stars in general), to the rising depression rates in our society and even gun violence in America.
Dealing with serious issues like these, the cartoon aspect and the comedy within the show offer a sense of relief to the viewer. There is a barrier between the society of the show and our own, created by the exaggeration of the characters and impractical storylines, yet the situations that are depicted often hit pretty close to home. While some satires and critiques within the show are made overtly obvious, there is a lot of hidden symbolism, which I continue to find as I watch the series for a second time.
There is a scene where Bojack is driving in a car with his girlfriend, Wanda, when he accidentally hits a deer crossing the road. He limps back into the forest and Wanda convinces Bojack that they should see if he is okay. After catching up to him, the deer, dressed in camouflage clothes, is sitting on a log with a bleeding limb. Bojack and Wanda tell him that they will take him to a hospital but he refuses, claiming he does not have health insurance and would consequently rather put his life at risk than be in debt after getting the medical help he needs.
In another episode, Diane, the ghostwriter of Bojack’s memoir who soon becomes a close friend of his, receives backlash when she references the already public allegations made by the former assistants of “Hank Hippopopalous”—a character many believe to be based on Bill Crosby. The media and the public are outraged that Diane is ruining his reputation by even repeating and acknowledging the allegations.
I have found something to love in almost each of the characters on the show, who are all complex and relatable. The depiction of Bojack throughout the show is one of the most realistic illustrations of a depressed, self-loathing alcoholic and his tendencies to relapse, although his thoughts and feelings are not always so far-fetched. Princess Carolyn, my personal favorite, is a strong, independent female cat who juggles her busy career while attempting to manage her personal life, engage in a steady relationship and begin a family. Her relationship with Bojack is one that is complicated but she always manages to be there for him, even though he cannot always do the same, though it is apparent that he does care for her.
Bojack Horseman is arguably one of the most relevant shows in this day and age, in terms of politics, battling social stigmas and just dealing with life, day by day. Viewers are able to root for Bojack, while at the same often being disappointed by him and even learning from his experiences. The nature of the show is extremely fresh and original and ultimately, a hidden treasure on Netflix that I’d highly recommend to all.