The Mourning of Netflix’s Greatest Antihero, Bojack Horseman

Author: Marisa Reyes-Pacheco

BoJack Horseman (2014-2020) changed my life in a way I thought no Netflix original ever could. But for whatever unfair reason life has, all good things must come to an end. The second part of Season 6, the series’ final episodes, are now finally available to stream on Netflix. I thought it would be interesting to take an overall look at one of the characters people love to hate and hate to love; none other than BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett). Created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, BoJack Horseman may just be the greatest embodiment of an antihero there has ever been. The show is tastefully written, both hilarious and intensely emotional every step of the way; this is what makes audiences fall in love with each and every one of it’s main characters. With BoJack, though? The relationship between character and audience is a lot more complicated than that. 

Leading up to the shows final season, BoJack is understood to be an actor whose career is deteriorating almost as quickly as the relationships with the people in his life seem to. Our horse protagonist is stuck in the toxic world of Hollywoo(d) and is described as a narcissistic, chaotic, irresponsible partier who doesn’t know when to take a step back and look at his own actions. This is how he hurts people the most. As a struggling alcoholic, BoJack acknowledges that he thinks he is not a good person and is seemingly stuck in a rut. This causes him to feel guilt and self-medicate with unhealthy coping mechanisms. He is constantly using drugs, alcohol, women and anyone who cares about him to feel something, anything aside from hating himself.

It isn’t difficult for audiences to empathize with BoJack. He faced neglect his entire childhood, leading to his low self esteem and drinking problem that ran in his family. After finally making it big with Horsin’ Around, where BoJack played everyone’s popular, beloved TV sitcom Dad, the societal pressures of the entertainment industry tore BoJack down as quickly as they built him up. His show died, and BoJack’s career seemed to go along with it. After working so hard, it was all taken away. But the worst part comes from the guilt BoJack struggles with throughout his life for the way he screwed people over in the process of gaining his stardom. BoJack has seemingly no sense of self and labels himself as a damaged alcoholic with no care for his actions, but BoJack cares so much, whether he’s willing to admit it or not. It is so hard to not care for him and want to take care of him, as many of the characters in the series do. His agent Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), ghost writer Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie) and roommate/closest person BoJack has to a friend, Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul), all love BoJack more than they’re willing to admit and are constantly trying to help BoJack keep his head afloat. But after BoJack proves his carelessness and incapability of having any self control or taking responsibility for his actions, they all gradually distance themselves as he spirals more deeply into his addiction. 

BoJack Horseman is a man desperate for guidance, and Season 6 thankfully shows BoJack spending a significant amount of time in a rehabilitation program. Unfortunately, it happens a bit too late; after the death of his onscreen adopted daughter due to his encouragement of a multi-day bender, BoJack decides he wants to change for good. He becomes an acting professor, lays low and stays as sober as he can before his shady past catches up to him. Season 6 highlighted the #MeToo movement without every having to call it by name, and unfortunately BoJack is front and center. But he deserves it. Times like these are when it is easy to hate BoJack. A predator, or a recovering alcoholic? If it is both, at what point is it wrong to care so much for him? To dismiss his mistakes to the alcohol and drugs? Everyone he knows and loves knows that he deserves to finally face the consequences of his actions, but it causes him to fall back into his old habits and again ruins the new life he wanted to start for himself. The series ends with BoJack doing time in a maximum security prison but getting to have a compassionate release to attend Princess Carolyn’s wedding. He talks with the ones who have always been close to him, the bride herself, Diane and Todd. Audiences are left hoping BoJack is able to make it through everything he is going through, with a slight bit of guilt about it. 

Marisa Reyes-Pacheco | valentine’s day is a capitalist holiday | KXSU Arts Reporter  

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