BoJack Horseman Review
This isn’t going to come as a great shock as it is a highly rated show anyway but BoJack Horseman is well worth a watch on Netflix. I finished watching it back in June but felt now was the time to write a review to gather my thoughts.
I remember the first time I had heard of it before it came out; I didn’t read up on it but I thought ‘okay, a random comedy about a talking horse, called BoJack Horseman, oh that Netflix, what are they like?” I imagined it would be a silly show which may or may not be funny. I thought it would follow the formula of the character faces a problem this episode, by the end of it, all will be resolved and everyone will be smiling.
I didn’t start watching the show until it was already four seasons so everyone who had watched before had shared their positive opinion of the show and it had a buzz about it. I still didn’t know exactly what I was in for besides now thinking it was a decent animated comedy series. Instead the show has so much more depth than you would expect about a show starring a talking horse.
In essence, even though BoJack is a horse, the story is simply a tale of a celebrity lifestyle or a washed up celebrity lifestyle as a former TV star of a popular sitcom in the 1990s. The talking animals and humans living side by side is an accepted way of the world and both humans and animals act the same way, have human jobs, problems etc. This leads to some of BoJack’s best comedy moments with physical comedy and puns regarding the different animals.
BoJack Horseman isn’t exactly a laugh a minute comedy. One of the reasons for this is that there is an underlying serious tone to the story being told of BoJack and his friends. Even when there are funny moments, there is a lot of subtlety in the jokes that you will laugh at out of appreciation for its cleverness rather than belly-laughing because it’s an easy, funny joke to make. There are also plenty of long-haul jokes where a joke or situation is set up in one episode and it might only come into play five episodes later.
If you’re not laughing much, you’ll probably still find yourself invested in the story that is being told. The first season is a little slow on this front as it isn’t really really funny or presenting an absolutely sublime narrative but it is building to something more and should have enough about it to keep your interest.
There are a lot of jokes at BoJack’s expense, often coming from his own mouth, but in the early episodes it is quite easy to write that off as the miserly comedy main character whose life is a bit of a mess. The episodes are a continuous story so while you laugh in one episode when BoJack says self-deprecating things but then he keeps saying it and adds more as the tone gets more and more serious after each episode and yet still comedy keeps shining through. The comedy and the drama mix together quite a lot where things that shouldn’t be funny, or shouldn’t be funny in context of the rest of the scene, somehow are despite the serious tone.
The cast of characters around BoJack all go through their own problems as well but just BoJack’s problems, they form both the drama and the comedy of the story. BoJack’s demeanour is completely offset by the irritatingly positive Mr Peanut Butter, a Labrador who also had a 90s sitcom and Todd, his lazy slacker of a housemate. The parts of the show with Todd and Mr Peanut Butter either separately or together are the closest moments to being a pure animated comedy in terms of silliness and wackiness that will get plenty of laughs.
Princess Carolyn and Diane are two characters who are a bit closer to BoJack’s demeanour, even if they seem as if they aren’t as they constantly question their decisions, what they want from life and share their feelings with Bojack who does the same in turn. Everybody gets their chance at comedy in the show as well as showing their serious side, often as is the case with the show, at the same time. Episodes are more about small victories for characters rather than everything being resolved in an easy half hour watch.
It is a really hard show to properly review without going into too much detail. I can recommend it as a comedy as it does provide plenty of laughs but there is so much more going on. If it was just a silly comedy about a talking horse, I could talk about animal puns and daft situations and tell you if it was funny or not. BoJack doesn’t have a comedy structure like South Park, rude language, far-out situations and satire or Family Guy, breakaway joke after breakaway joke, to rely on episode after episode. It can go from simple visual comedy to dark comedy to subtle comedy snuck into a serious scene and that can all take place in the same episode.