Bojack Horseman’s mostly been a joy to watch, apart from when it’s been heartbreaking and soul destroying and so, er, yeah, it’s only been hilariously wonderful about half of the time. But despite everything Bojack’s done and said over the past few years, and boy, what a fucked up selection of actions that’s been, in season five he hit an all new low when fucked up on prescription pills reality and fiction blurred and he tried to strangle his on and off screen lover Gina.
It was a devastating scene, and one I wasn’t sure Bojack could ever come back from but showrunner / creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg has just about managed to do so by having Bojack genuinely want to change. Sure, that’s something he’s said countless times before, as the show addresses in the opening flashback to the events after the death of Sarah Lynne, but this time he seems to be actually trying his very best as he attends rehab and expresses a wish to stop treating those he loves like shit.
Of course this being Bojack at first he mopes about and fails to take part, until he sees a photograph of Sarah Lynne at the rehab centre from years back and realises he has to try. Even then he takes his time to address his issues, preferring to blame himself rather than actually explore why he’s the horse that he is, until he meets fellow resident Jameson and does his best to help her, even if he does accidentally tell her how to escape rehab, with him them following her in to the outside world in an attempt to bring her back.
Bojack has been a show which is a mixture of drama and comedy for a long time now, ever since half way through it’s first season when it stopped being a wacky absurdist comedy about a sardonic horse and instead began to explore addiction, depression and all of the horrible things that can happen to you as a result of having incredibly shitty parents, but more than ever in this episode it relies on the more serious aspects of the series to move the story forward. It needs to do so as well, otherwise Bojack’s actions in the previous series would still be unforgivable, and given that we’re supposed to like rather than be horrified by the lead character it’s clearly essential it does this.
I don’t really mind either, the characters have been so well performed and written that I’m deeply attached to them and only hope for their lives to improve. That said I’m still very grateful for the funny moments within the episode so that’s it not depressingly bleak material all of the time, from Bojack’s scathing description of the rehab industry to the phone call between Bojack, Diane, Todd Princess Carolyn and Mr Peanutbutter which had some of the best examples of the show’s trademark wordplay, while the final scene in Jameson’s father’s house was packed with some lovely gags relating to Hollywood history.
At this stage I have no idea how things will pan out for Bojack, this is a series which has gone to some very dark places indeed and if it ended with his suicide while I’d be horrified I wouldn’t be shocked. But along the way there’s been enough hints at optimism, that life can work out and be a thing of joy, at least at times, that I truly hope that’s the direction it goes in. After all surely everyone knows how bleak the world can be, and we need as many reminders as we can get that it isn’t always like that.