Title: BoJack Horseman Season 4
Air Date: September 8, 2017
Genre: Animated Sitcom
It baffles me that BoJack Horseman, a show about half hybrid animal people, has managed to be one of the funniest, realistic, and depressing shows on television- let alone one of my favorite shows on Netflix.
Coming off yet another depressing end to last season, Netflix’s BoJack Horseman sees the show return to Hollywoo, wondering where the hell is BoJack? Both literally and mentally.
After seeing BoJack contemplating suicide last season following another string of bad decisions, I was one of the many who wanted an answer to those questions. Yet, the show doesn’t even re-introduce the main character until the second episode. Instead, it relies on Diane, Todd, Princess Caroline, and Mr. Peanutbutter to shoulder the load, referencing BoJack via unanswered voicemails left by Diane.
While many shows have filler that doesn’t involve the titular character the story surrounds, it’s a bold decision to do so during the first episode of the season. But it works so well in BoJack Horseman.
As much as I have come to love Will Arnett as BoJack Horseman – another accomplishment considering I loathed him as an actor in anything else – the show has done a fantastic job building the supporting characters throughout the last couple of years. I enjoy the stories that take place in the lives of the side characters just as much as I do the main character, something that has been a huge strength for the show.
Everyone aside from BoJack starts out in a good place with stories that lead to hilarious side plots. Alongside that, there are plenty of bits of amazing social commentary laced throughout the season. From Mr. Peanutbutter’s run for Governor to Mass Shooter Tragedies, all of them do an important job of addressing the issues and satirizing the way our society reacts to them. Compared to South Park’s recent take on things, BoJack Horseman’s perspectives have been more subtle and somehow less lowbrow.
But there are plenty of problems that occur throughout the characters hijinks that lead to sorrowful endings. Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane’s relationship, Princess Caroline’s inability to have children, and even Todd’s struggle with his sexuality all occur laced throughout the goofy side stories. Most of the characters situations and feelings end up on the opposite end of the spectrum in comparison to the start, almost the opposite of BoJack, who starts out miserable.
BoJack’s return reveals that he simply drove to his family’s old lake house in Michigan. Not only does the plotline contain a sarcastic bromance with a dragonfly, it fleshes out BoJack’s families past. Everyone’s favorite horse actor has been an asshole for a while, with storylines and flashbacks revealing that he didn’t have the best upbringing. Season 4 shows that it wasn’t sunshine and rainbows for his family either though, especially his mother’s side, The Sugarmans.
BoJack’s mother, Beatrice Horseman, has been displayed as a cruel and hurtful person, especially to BoJack. But like the traits she passes on to Bojack, majorly selfishness and sarcasm, she developed these after being shaped by her own parents. Following tragedies and negative mindsets that occurred during this time period, mostly the way women were viewed and treated, these traits began to manifest in a young, optimistic Beatrice.
The narrative of the death of Beatrice’s brother, her mother’s grief and subsequent lobotomy, and her father and schoolmates comments on her weight flesh out just why she acts the way she does. This story continues throughout the season, affecting the endgame considerably.
Instead of immediately cutting away to flashbacks to tell Beatrice’s story though, the show uses an amazing format regarding the past and present stories overlapping. The overlapping scenes will either feature one fading away or both occurring simultaneously, speaking at different times. There are a few odd formatting choices though, specifically the instances of weird animation choices that take place during BoJack’s inner monologues. While they don’t take away from things too much, the decision to use that style didn’t fit with the rest of the series.
All of this is not only a depressing story, made even worse by the fact that BoJack’s mother now suffers from Alzheimers;, it’s an integral part of the other most important story in the show: Hollyhocks.
Introduced in a short bit last season, the female Horseman is portrayed to be BoJacks daughter. It’s hard to introduce new characters with a strong supporting cast already, but I came to love Hollyhock Manheim-Mannheim-Guerrero-Robinson-Zilberschlag-Hsung-Fonzerelli-McQuack (the adopted daughter of 8 polygamous fathers) almost immediately. She’s everything comical about BoJack, with the same sarcastic attitude, yet still innocent and caring. Her interactions with BoJack help develop his character while still being realistic enough that he messes up a lot and in big ways.
Like so many bad things that have happened to him in the past (Sara Lynn’s death, The Carsons fiasco, ect) a lot of things were his fault, but many happen via circumstance that were out of his control. Thankfully, this season ends on a much happier note for BoJack, even with sadness mixed into it.
Season 4 was easily my favorite yet as the characters, stories, and themes displayed are thought-provoking and entertaining. If you loved the first three seasons, you are in for a treat; so, get ready to binge watch.
Verdict: BoJack Horseman Season 4 manages to create all new comical, yet depressing storylines revolving around the odd hybrid characters of Hollywoo. Thanks to the development from past seasons, each of the show’s elements are at its best and will likely only continue to get better.
- Supporting cast
- Beatrice’s past
- Hollyhock and her story
- Social Commentary
- Melancholy at its best
- BoJack’s inner monologue animations