Penultimate season a quest for redemption
Review: Bojack Horseman Season Six, Part One
Starring the voices of: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, Paul F. Tompkins
Normally, watching Bojack Horseman is something of a cycle. You begin the season looking forward to the silly humour and background gags of a world where human beings live alongside anthropomorphic animals in a weird parody of our own celebrity-obsessed world. As each offering wears on, however, it quickly becomes apparent that this show is something rather different, and the viewer is reminded that it is actually rather depressing. With the focus squarely on a washed up actor and his predilection for self-destruction, Bojack Horsemen then becomes a story of drugs, bad choices, and childhood trauma, with the viewer left thoroughly drained by the end of the now-binged season.
That is, until recently.
At the end of season five (which Insights reviewed here) Bojack finally decides to break the cycle and enters rehab. Determined to become a better person and kick some of his habits, Bojack has as close to a hero moment as we have ever seen. And so, season six becomes a matter of seeing whether Bojack can get better, in all senses.
As he enters rehab, Bojack starts to reluctantly open up. Thriving off the attention that’s inherent to the setting, he eventually starts to take to his treatment. The question remains as to what he will do once he’s out. Season six also sees a number of side stories, with Princess Carolyn juggling new motherhood with her busy PR career, Todd taking on multiple jobs, Dianne starting an office romance, Mr Peanutbutter struggle with the aftermath of his infidelity, and a strike brewing among Hollywood assistants sick of celebrities’ abuse.
These side stories see Bojack Horseman continue to shine a light on its supporting characters, many of whom now have lives that don’t revolve around Bojack himself.
One of Bojack Horseman’s other long-running achievements has been the way in which the show’s razor sharp writing. As well as hilarious word play, the scripts have plumbed the depths of existence, looking at the cruelty of death and the way that people can hurt one another. Season six manages both some of the funniest wordplay yet, along with some sharp observations into modern life.
Bojack’s quest for sobriety is one of the better-realised explorations of redemption that any television show has offered. Not only does he need to struggle with the impact that this has had on his own life, but the show reveals how these actions have affected other people. He is not the only one centred, and his past actions have consequences that may yet catch up with him.
With season six marking the last in the season, Netflix have split its release into two, with the second half to drop on 31 January. This isn’t the last we will see of Bojack Horseman. The question remains as to whether he will make it out alive, let alone redeemed.
Season six, part one of Bojack Horseman is now streaming on Netflix
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor