Netflix Original Series
Will Arnett stars as Bojack Horseman, a washed up 90s sitcom star who’s spent the past 18 years on his couch drinking absurd amounts of alcohol watching reruns from his glory days. Desperate to relieve his depression and couch impression, Bojack hires Diane Nguyen(Alison Brie) to ghostwrite his memoir to put him back in the spotlight.
Having pushed away almost everyone who’s ever loved him, Bojack lives the lonely existence of a former celebrity. Only his free-loading houseguest Todd(Aaron Paul) and feline agent Princess Carolyn(Amy Sedaris) have a mutually beneficial relationship with our anti-hero.
Trading in his cynicism for vulnerability over the course of the show, we come to love this self-deprecating, self-destructive, self-loathing jerk. Hidden in the laughter and jokes are some seriously dark undertones. It’s an odd medium to do so, but the show attempts to tackle some real issues like depression, loss, and irrelevance. Bojack thinks he’s better than everyone but can’t find a way to balance that with his own unhappiness.
It sounds depressing, but this show is overwhelmingly hilarious. Puns, wordplay, reference humor, and personification are layered so deep it’s hard to keep up with all the jokes. The idea for the show is so ambitious you’d assume they were on LSD when they had the idea. Animals live in harmony with humans, and often show off their animal characteristics. A chicken gets scared and lays an egg, a fish is passed out drunk in the background, and Mr. Peanut Butter(Paul F. Tompkins), Bojack’s canine nemesis, is overly optimistic, loves going outside, and has a trunk full of tennis balls.
There are so many fantastic voice actors involved in the project. Will Arnett has one of best voices for comedy I’ve ever heard. Paul F. Tompkins, Alison Brie, and Patton Oswalt play such a variety of characters in ridiculous situations. Guest stars show up in every episode from John Krasinski, Chris Parnell, Keith Olbermann, Stephen Colbert, Lisa Kudrow, to J.K. Simmons, and so on and so on.
Each episode builds on the last as we learn more and more about these characters. Bojack grows from a horrible person and horrible friend into a bad person and a bad friend. It may not seem like much, but that struggle means everything to his friends and the audience.
I freaking loved this show – probably my favorite animated show of all time. I’ve never seen a series so ambitious, creative, and weirdly emotional.
Looking on Rotten Tomatoes, critics have rated it at 56%, but I have to agree with the audience score, 91%.
To me, Bojack Horseman belongs in the conversation among Netflix’s best original series, for much different reasons of course.