Spoilers ahead. Hopefully a cosmic television force will prompt you to watch this perfect show.
I watched BoJack Horseman from nearly the beginning of its initial release. It was by accident, actually, despite the fact that I followed the show’s social media marketing for the premiere.
It was an accident because in that moment, I needed something to focus on. It was the worst hangover I had ever experienced – you know – the one where you actually do think that you’re going to die. My head had been spinning for about three hours and there was nothing left my body could give to the toilet. I just wanted 20 minutes of peace, I didn’t think that was too much to ask.
I didn’t really care for the first half of the season. I wasn’t until the episode about BoJack’s bender, “Downer Ending,” when I started to actually pay attention.
It hit a chord, hearing him ask Diane “I need you to tell me that I’m a good person” over and over again and getting only silence in response. It was the first time in the show that I felt a connection, a humanity about the story. The obsessive desperation of needing validation was something I knew all too well. And still do despite everything that I have in my life.
It also felt pretty poignant that I was watching an episode about excessive substance use after a night of heavy drinking. I didn’t foray into those particular bars for a long time after that morning.
BoJack, however, did his job and distracted me with a fantastic first season. I was hooked.
The show went further into this mindset of desperate gratification with the second season. Escape from L.A. is burned into my memory – the phrase “I think you’re the tar pit” etched especially. No matter where or what, whatever monster you have on your back, it’s going to follow you unless you appropriately address it.
A lot of people who have those monsters – no matter if they’re big or small – will take a long time to actually figure out how to deal with them, if they want to deal with them at all. It’s easy to get comfortable with a crutch. You think you have a scapegoat. “Oh, that just was me when I was really anxious, I don’t normally cry at bus stops in front of fifty people.”
How long can you keep that as a scapegoat when those moments of toxic release happen more frequently or more intensely? How many times are you going to get carried out of a bar crying? How many times do you have to wake up the next morning and mumble sorry to your friends and family? If you notice, they normally don’t care when you apologize. They just size up for the next time that you fall.
But there’s something that’s bothering you – maybe it’s in your mind or how you feel. And it doesn’t correlate to what you’re doing (it could, but sometimes it doesn’t). It doesn’t matter if you’re wealthy or successful or loved. It’s this… thing that’s always keeping you uneasy. Many people try to demolish that ambiguous negativity completely, be it alcohol, drugs, or other addicting things in life. Normally you’re burning the forest when you do that.
BoJack season 3 is that concept. It’s the ballad of BoJack’s depression and impulsive self-destruction. It’s the most destructive he’s ever been in the series. The pinnacle of this is the month-long bender that kills Sarah Lynn, the only person he confesses he knows how to love. Even before the bender, his friends are beginning to let their apathetic facade fade. Instead of saying “that’s just BoJack,” Diane and Todd tell BoJack that he’s the one that’s being bad. He’s the one that ruins things. And if he doesn’t own up to it, something serious will happen. Unfortunately, it does.
Obviously, I’m not BoJack, but this is the point of the show that, like the “Downer Ending” episode, I feel queasy about knowing how the situation feels. My friends and family in my life will stop me from crying or me repeating bad things about myself out of frustration. At what point, they say, will I finally be convinced that things are okay? That I’m a good person?
And after all of this in this season, after all of that, the finale ends with hope. He could’ve kept his hands off the wheel but he doesn’t. He stops. He looks at the healthy, running horses and sees what he’d love to really be.
I recently had a conversation that a lot of elements of society keep us from being our true selves. A lot of elements of ourselves do that too.
I think that it’s not just a matter of not being true to ourselves. I also think it’s a matter of not being healthy for ourselves. A little bit of vice is okay, but it becomes all too easy to swing on the scale of excessiveness when something feels off.
We need to be healthy to our minds. Not everything in life lasts forever – as Nina Simone sings in the finale’s closing song – but you can still rise up and sing. You can still do what you are meant to do, what you are meant to feel, if you push yourself to find a way.