Bojack Horseman Season 1 Review
by William Hirsh | published Sep. 19th, 2014
Celebrities are the most targeted persons in the media,even more than politicians, as sources of controversy and scandal. They're content financially, but languish emotionally due to their constant exposure in the public eye. Without any sort of empathy from their fans and critics, they choose to either isolate themselves or go down the path of self-destruction. The post-stardom celebrity lifestyle is like beating a dead horse, and in this case that dead horse is "Bojack Horseman."
Netflix's exclusive 12-episode sitcom "Bojack" is a short but scintillating show, especially because of its character development. Following the titular, anthropomorphic horse, "Bojack" is a story about a '90s sitcom star who is now dealing with unhappiness and – far worse – being forgotten. Planning his rebound into the acting scene, Bojack is working with a publishing company to release a "warts and all" memoir about his life and career. When progress is minimal due to Bojack's lack of attention and reluctance to delve into his own past, the publisher hires a ghost writer named Diane Nguyen to help write the memoir. This sets the stage for some of the best character dissections I've ever seen. While Bojack is seemingly narcissistic, with the help of Diane the episodes begin to peel at his very person; his life, where its going and if he can be redeemed as an actor and as a person.
While "Bojack" has its funny moments, much of its comedy can be hit or miss – but that's not the true appeal of this show. "Bojack" takes place in an unassuming, silly parody of Hollywood. It may be comprised of animals and humans, but beneath the surface it has so much more to offer. Admittedly slow paced in the first few episodes, once this hurdle is crossed, the focus of the plot becomes clear: this is a deconstruction of celebrity culture and its victims. From themes of betrayal to the downward spiral of child actors, it covers a compelling spectrum of issues that inhabit Hollywood and the country.
These strong themes are held up by its excellent voice cast. "Bojack" has some of Will Arnett's best acting to date and, while it may seem similar to his role as Gob on "Arrested Development," it's a completely different animal in terms of how he pulled off such a complex character. Most actors on the project, from Amy Sedaris as Bojack's agent Princess Carolyn to Alison Brie as Diane, really shine as most characters have their own little flaws, needs and complications. For the characters that were not as developed, like Aaron Paul's Todd Chavez, their chance to grow is eagerly awaited in the next season.
In short, "Bojack" is a fantastic watch, especially for those keen on great character arcs and dark satire. Its climax episode "Downer Ending" alone is one of the most satisfying payoffs of any show. With how the last episode sets things up, Bojack will have more challenges and personal problems to work out as he continues to reinvent himself next season.