There’s something fitting about the final run of BoJack Horseman dropping on the same sad day a country that for so long has faced outwards begins to look inwards – and dare we say downwards, at its own shrivelled willy – once again. We talk, of course about Brexit. Very rarely has the phrase ‘why the long face?’ seemed more poignant. You see, as well as talking about Brexit, we talk about horses. This is where we are now. In 2020, the thing that makes the most sense in a world that has long since stopped making any sense, is an animated talking horse. BoJack Horseman – the most consistently and intelligently poignant animated series of its generation – was a show that always seemed to be getting smarter, even as the world grew more stupid.
When it debuted on Netflix in 2014, Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s tragicomedy about a washed-up actor-trying-to-be-better (who also happens to be a horse) was immediately so much more than that. It was a show about depression, redemption, miscarriage, trauma, alcoholism, sexism, dementia and any other facet which falls within the gamut of the human experience. It took us a while to really get it; comedies, we had been conditioned to understand, shouldn’t leave us feeling like we’d been punched hard in the belly. But when we did get them, those who have loved the 77 episodes of this remarkable series truly cherished each episode and even used some of them as a guide to this clusterfuck called life.
This final run of episodes is as consistently funny as the show has ever been but it’s also perhaps its most bleak. Not for any particular reason. Thankfully, the cast have already endured the worst you’ll see them endure. It’s more that the show remains true to why it has resonated with so many right to the very end. There’s no grand, cinematic Hollywoo(d) ending. No grand revelation or lightning bolt epiphany (though a ‘ghosts of BoJack past’-esque scene in which BoJack faces a room of his worst memories does inch dangerously close). Nobody gets a medal. Really, for all his stunted growth, BoJack should die for all the bad things he has done. That’s what happens in telly; bad people die at the end. Spoiler alert: not here. And not in life either.
If you’re not already a fan, we can understand why you might be wondering why on earth you should bother watching. It isn’t hard to find misery these days, either outside your window or at the click of a keyboard button. There are, after all, 10 seasons of Friends waiting to be re-binged. We might try and convince you to get into BoJack’s final stand by telling you there’s a really funny joke in one of the last episodes about how the ‘Hokey Cokey’ is actually amongst the most profound songs ever written, with Aaron Paul’s Todd Chavez trying to convince Will Arnett’s BoJack that “you turn yourself around” is among life’s greatest lessons. BoJack scoffs and sneers that the song’s creators rhymed ‘about’ with ‘about’, to which Todd angrily retorts, “Isn’t the point of art less what people put into it, more what they get out of it?”
Funny, but also very BoJack Horseman, a show that subtly parodies lives every viewer will intimately recognise as in some way akin to their own – ones which aren’t populated by anthropomorphic animals – but that allows its observations to linger, only slightly signposted, a bit like those gooey worm shapes you see refracted in your eyes when looking into light. Evil alien brain worms? Or just cells breaking apart and making new shapes? Everyone will have a different reading. This is, after all, a show that’s never offered simple answers to complex questions, never presumed its fans lives are simple and rarely judged or set a moral code for its universe to stand upon. It’s one of the greatest television shows ever made, as well as – viewed on this bleak day, or in several months’ time – the new benchmark for humanity’s most beloved medium in understanding the human condition. That’s neigh exaggeration. Neigh. You know, like a horse.
‘BoJack Horseman’ is available to stream on Netflix