Bojack Horseman was one of the first Netflix original shows that introduced me to the joy of binging. It was a brand new adult animated show (definitely not for children, You have been warned!) apart from being incredibly funny and entertaining, the show also dared to deal with some heavy topics like celebrity, depression, alcholism, sex addition and family. It’s been now four years since the streaming service introduced Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s wacky world in which anthropomorphic animals and humans co-exist in Hollywoo (a hilarious version of Hollywood with a delightful backstory as to why the D is missing). The executive at Netflix responsible for saying yes to this series needs a permanent position in their procurement team.
The show starts off considerably slower than previous seasons, with Bojack missing after confessing his love for Diane as well as dealing with the guilt of the late Sarah Lyn. So the season starts with a focus on other characters, Mr Peanut Butter who is running for governor for California challenges the current governor Woodchuck Couldhuck-Berkowitz to a ski race and when the media start runing with it he is forced to take it seriously. The mirror to our real world at the moment is entertaining to watch and it would be interesting to find out when this was written.
Princess Carolyn is facing a career crisis in a hilarious episode titled “Thoughts & Prayers which explores the aftermath of a mass shooting and how it affects the opening weekend of one of her actresses latest films echoing the lines “thoughts and prayers” resulting in a hilarious and again mirror to our society and how we deal with events like this. This isn’t the only foray for Carolyn this season, she is still with her boyfriend Ralph and after deciding to try and get pregnant this particular story arc delves deep into celebrity and women juggling work and resposibilities. In true Bojack fashion it is a hard and dark look at the topic and it really helps flesh out Princess Carolyn as a character.
But meanwhile, where is Bojack? He ends up driving aimlessly and arriving at Beatrice’s mothers house finding it completely trashed. Deciding to take a few days out the memories of Beatrice and her horrible childhood are played out providing context for how this character (voiced by Wendy Mallick) ended up being as horrible as she did. Beatrice’s mother has problems getting over the loss of her son and as a result her husband suggests a labotomy. It is just one of the extremely dark moments of this season and after doing some research I found that this was actually a practise. Bojack decides to fix up the house with the help of his mosquito neighbour Eddy before heading back to Hollywoo to face the music.
To make things complicated a young foal arrives at Bojack’s house by the name of Hollyhock who claims to be his daughter. After several mishaps Bojack finds himself having to care for his mother Beatrice as well as Hollyhock all in the same house. An extensive backstory into Beatrice and Bojack’s history as Bojack was growing up provides some of the darkest scenes of this season and also helps to explain why their relationship has reached this point. It is a welcome contrast to the lightness of Mr Peanut Butter’s storyline and whatever they were trying to do with Todd being a-sexual. Adding Hollyhock into this mix creates an interesting family dynamic, and later on when its revealed that Beatrice is sneaking weight loss pills into Hollyhock’s morning shakes, things reach boiling point and this show delivers the season finest moment.
Another interesting part of this season is the voice of Bojack inside his brain that is constantly putting him down and talking through his thought process. Anyone who has ever struggled with depression will identify with the internal struggle that this voice eminates. It is such a well explained set of scenes it is really hard to put into words how impacting this moment is.
Through all of this pain and all of this darkness all of the characters reach the end of the season with hope and it ends on a surprisingly positive note, something that previous seasons have not done. It is a welcome change and after many moments this season in which it didn’t seem like there was any positive way forward for any of these characters, it finishes with a beacon of hope for them all. It is a difficult thing to craft and weave an engaging story while dealing with such dark subject matter and still be able to make people laugh, and not just a little now and then it was consistent laughter.
Bojack Horseman has continued to improve with each season, and season 4 is the crown jewel in the journey so far. It is hard to describe just how incredible this show is and what this season accomplishes. If you have Netflix definitely add it to your queue, and if you have never seen the show before I thoroughly recommend binging from season 1.
Bojack Horseman season 4 is streaming now exclusively on Netflix.
Review by Alaisdair Leith