Diane and BoJack in the series finale of BoJack Horseman
Diane and BoJack in the series finale of BoJack Horseman. PC: Netflix

‘BoJack Horseman’ Series Finale: You Turn Yourself Around

This season sees Bojack’s sins of the past catch up with him, for a tumultuous yet sentimental conclusion that uproots everything that has grounded him so far.

BoJack Horseman has been the face of self-loathing for years. Deconstructive yet self-sabotaging. Racing towards an end of inevitable tragic loneliness — brought on by a lifetime of bad mistakes and a guttural feeling of misplaced unworthiness. It’s a brilliant character analysis; particularly, on why is it just so damn hard to be happy?

He has a lot of friends who love and care for him. Though he also, has a lot of traumatic parental baggage and success tied heavily together with that weight he carries. One that’s driven most of his life choices into a successful career as a sitcom actor — though also feels tainted. As it came with the support of and inevitable betrayal of, his best friend: Herb. Another casualty on BoJack’s personal war on happiness.

Despite his fame, BoJack’s incredibly insecure about himself and his fragile ego. His character portrait is less a cautionary tale and more of a chaotic mess of painting your life into a Jackson Pollack painting then convincing yourself for years this was art, as you put the cigarette out on the canvass, and panic that one day people will smell the steaming pile of bullshit.

All character traits that I think a lot of people, including myself and many artists, can relate to…

 

My Experience With BoJack: A Review

The first time BoJack horseman was brought up to me by a classmate at a workshop I was attending. I was binging everything Netflix had to offer those days but I had passed on BoJack because the animation style was a bit too bizarre for my palate. Anthropomorphic animals living their lives as everyday L.A. folk? A minor documentary on the life of Bob Sagat?

I was never going to watch the series… until I was told that the show was more than it seemed. That it’s not about the alliteration, animal puns, or even the comedy. What the story is actually about is being the face of ‘Pagliacci‘ stuck between the only thing you know and the need to be loved via the funny. So, I watched it, and like many times in my life, I had to admit I was wrong. And there was more to it than just that. The show has taken this theme and run with it, experimenting in both the art and the ways it plays with this theme:

The season one finale villainized L.A. and being surrounded with/indulging in toxicity. Though it also taught us we can’t escape our demons. That the best foot forward, is sometimes facing it head-on and not running away from your problems. Season two covered how accomplishing your dream project, doesn’t necessarily grant you happiness. That chasing the past isn’t always a good idea, and that sometimes, you really have to be the responsible adult: knowing when to say no (the Penny season). Season three, a masterpiece in storytelling, captures beautiful depictions of depression, asexuality, indulgence, and harsh binge induced partying self-destruction — all in the name of an award and chasing that high… though still not acknowledging your problems. Season four, probably the only lighthearted season, lets us step back and see BoJack happy as he meets Hollyhock, delves into childhood trauma, and lets us see that our supporting cast aren’t altogether as people too,  perhaps needing BoJack to make themselves feel better about not being the best people. BoJack Season five took us to new heights of how awful this character could go, toxic masculinity, and bravely faced the controversial subject of #MeToo from the perspective of someone that very much borderlines as being an offender. And of course, we get this season: the rehab and rebuild and try to fix yourself finale.

Immediately, I identified with this journey. Felt incredibly sad but also sort of happy that a series out there made me feel less lonely in how guiltily and shamefully I treated myself from time to time. BoJack at its best is a look into a deep depression, self-loathing, and the futility at the pursuit of happiness. That it’s more important to just be happy, making everyday decisions and finding contentment in the now. As meaningful notions are made and lost and found in every fleeting moment, so why not make them rather good ones as much as possible?

This is sort of the theme of Season Six. It’s BoJack’s attempts at sobriety. His desires to influence the next generation as he’s grown older (and accepted it, stylized by his realistic hair color), connect to his only remaining family, and more important: do something that’s meaningful to someone else. All-in-all for an attempt at feeling less shitty. Does it work? We don’t really know. The show does an excellent job at flipping the world’s problems in often unpredictable yet slightly believable ways, where these moments of decision, often have fatal consequences for BoJack, and by proxy his coping mechanism: indulgence.

What’s beautiful though is how the season acknowledges the faults in the pattern. Doesn’t forgive our eponymous Horseman but lets him have a poetic ending that in some ways… might be crueler than one would expect. Still, it’s life, and a living, and the hope of a better tomorrow. And sure that’s very self-help sounding. And no, I’m not a very zen person. Most of the days I wake up just not wanting to feel shitty, much similar to BoJack.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to be sad. Not everything is perfect.

And it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

 

Season 6 Part Two Recap

Warning These Sections Will Contain Spoilers

In episode one, we see BoJack at his new job as an acting teacher at Wesleyan college. Doing a surprisingly excellent job as the acting teacher. Post-rehab, BoJack sees this as his second chance. An opportunity to function and be normal away from his destructive L.A. lifestyle. Especially with his sister, Hollyhock, BoJack’s last tie to family and the closest thing to a daughter, attending school there.

It’s a new lease for him and a hopeful reminder of the future. The students reminding him what it was like to have all that potential before the L.A. life destroyed him — alluding it to his fondest memories: of him and Herb doing standup and trying to make it back in the day.

Though all is not perfect. Though she’s there, Hollyhock is avoiding him, knowing what happened about his past. A past which in no time, shortly catches up with him. As Charlotte gives him a disturbing phone call. As investigative reporters Paige Sinclair and Max Banks are harassing her daughter: Penny. An underaged girl whom BoJack almost slept with, after living with Charlotte, and having spent prom night with her and her best friend Maddy — who got alcohol poisoning and was dropped off at the hospital to protect BoJack from scandal.

Though the reporters are unaware of this and are looking more into the death of Sarah Lynn. Interviewing Charlotte’s family but also, an oblivious Mr. Peanutbutter who inevitably spills the details by accident. Trying to get on top of the story with Princess Carolyn, Diane, and Todd, BoJack shares his darkest secrets to his friends, including having supplied the heroin that killed Sarah Lynn and staging the setting like he found her.

That evening, he says farewell to his class and life that made him happy.

Diane and Princess Carolyn as BoJack says goodbye to his students a final time in ‘Sunk Costs and All That’ Season 6 Episode 11

 

While this is happening this season, everyone else has significant final story arcs too. Todd continues a healthy relationship with his girlfriend, Maude and later, tries to reconnect with his mother of whom he donated a kidney to;  coming up with one last crazy Todd scheme to get them to finally meet in person and resolve their issues: particularly, her kicking him out at the age of 18 when he was a lazy stoner — the two of them never speaking again after that incident.

Diane is struggling to come up with her personal essays and memoirs about her childhood. She knows the writer she wants to become. She wants to find meaning in trauma but finds herself writing a young adult series about a food court detective based on some random ideas she had while writing at the mall. Unable to accept this, Diane inevitably struggles with her antidepressants and winds up hating herself and her incapability to dignify her sadness. Coming to grips with her book and her new life in Chicago with her boyfriend, Guy. A beautiful story that leads to the conclusion that sometimes things (trauma) just happened but life moves on.

Life gets shittier. We get better.

Diane and Guy in Good Damage Episode 10
Diane and Guy talk about her memoir in ‘Good Damage’ Season 6 Episode 10

 

Mr. PeanutButter continues his unceasing positive energy. He buys BoJack’s restaurant, Elefante and turns it into Elfinos, as BoJack’s hemorrhaging money this season between his rehab and lawsuits and needs to liquidate all his assets. Completely oblivious and wanting to get his relationship back on track, he asks Pickles sleep with the Justin Bieber knockoff Joey Pogo so that they’re even for his sleeping with Diane — Though Pickles and Joey painstakingly realize, they are better off together as a couple. With Mr. Peanutbutter ending up all alone.

Princess Carolyn continues excelling at every stage in her career. She balances baby life by using Todd and Judah and even still finds room to help resolve a lot of BoJack’s issues, though the horse inevitably steers the public narrative into the inevitable divebomb. She gets her well deserved happy ending, marrying Judah, her incredibly hard-working yet stoic assistant, whom as we learn towards the final episodes, has a sentimental musical side: finally confessing he loves her (Which also, makes so much sense now because he did quite literally any and everything for her, oftentimes to perfection. Though who knew it was love?) in a beautiful conclusion to her story that ends the series on their wedding.

In traditional fashion this season, BoJack spirals into an endless cycle of addiction and recovery. Beckoning the question for one last time: how many chances is this celebrity allowed before the end?

BoJack owns up to his past before the reporters release the story, and he unsurprisingly gets away with his sins. Seen as dysfunctional, sympathetic, and relatable, BoJack is once again an overnight sensation. Beloved all for the same character traits that we the audience, enjoy watching BoJack.

Then, out of pure hubris and self-destruction (And under the wise advice of Princess Carolyn: NOT TO DO), a second interview happens spurned on by Pinky Penguin at MBN for even more ratings. Though this time, the interview is fed some of the investigation information, and with this, they do a smear campaign: emphasizing BoJack’s power over women. Particularly, his troublesome relationships with underage women, and his troublesome history with Sarah Lynn.

 

BoJack comes clean about his misdeeds in ‘Xerox of a Xerox’ Season 6 Episode 12

 

Afterward, everyone hates him. And a low point, he talks to his old producer, Angela Diaz (who fired Herb for being gay in the 90s) who convinces BoJack to sign away rights to his show for a small fee. Money that he needs desperately due to his lawsuit (though not the Sarah Lynn one the fact he negatively used the word Xerox in his interview) having sold his house and using up all that remains of his money.

This leads him to break his sobriety and takes us to the penultimate episode and finale. Arguably some of the best episodes in the series.

Sarah Lynn does one final performance in a purgatory created within the mind of a drowning BoJack.

Bojack’s penultimate episode ‘The View From Halfway Down’, sees Bojack in a type of purgatory in his own mind as he attempts for a type of closure with dead characters who all meant something in his life. BoJack having passed out in the pool face first in his home, much like the opening credits.

We get a lot of engaging numbers featuring brilliant alliteration by Zach Braff and another rendition of “Don’t Stop Dancing till the Curtain Call” By Sarah Lynn. With each important person rationalizing about the decisions made within their own lives. With a beautiful speech by BoJack’s father/Secretariat who does a beautiful reading of the view from halfway down,

The weak breeze whispers nothing

The water screams sublime

His feet shift, teeter-totter

Deep breath, stand back, it’s time

Toes untouch the overpass

Soon he’s water bound

Eyes locked shut but peek to see

The view from halfway down

A little wind, a summer sun

A river rich and regal

A flood of fond endorphins

Brings a calm that knows no equal

You’re flying now

You see things much more clear than from the ground

It’s all okay, it would be

Were you not now halfway down

Thrash to break from gravity

What now could slow the drop

All I’d give for toes to touch

The safety back at top

But this is it, the deed is done

Silence drowns the sound

Before I leaped I should’ve seen

The view from halfway down

I really should’ve thought about

The view from halfway down

I wish I could’ve known about

The view from halfway down

BoJack’s final moments, once everyone is absorbed into nothingness, is a call to Diane asking her to save him. But it’s a conversation that never happened… The real Diane, having never picked up the phone as she’d moved on with her life in Chicago. No one came to save the lonesome BoJack. So, he envisions a final talk with his best friend and often savior. The one person whom in BoJack’s eyes, understood him.

 

BoJack tries escaping the darkness of his own purgatory
BoJack trying to Escape the darkness in the penultimate episode ‘The View from Halfway Down’. Season 6 Episode 15

 

BoJack of course survives. Having been found by the family who’d moved into his newly sold home. Waking up cuffed to a hospital bed.

In the final episode, wisdom comes from an unexpecting Todd, who tells his friend that people all got it wrong. Using a somewhat beautiful metaphor about BoJack, tied together with of all things: The Hokey Pokey

“It’s not about the Hokey Pokey. It’s about Doing the Hokey Pokey and then Turning Yourself Around

Despite this, and after the inevitable jail time where BoJack underwent forced sobriety, his movie he’d shot with Vance Waggoner (Bobby Cannavale) called ‘Horny Unicorn’ is abuzz and people (according to Princess Carolyn) are already talking about BoJack’s inevitable comeback.

We’re left to question if BoJack has in fact finally changed. Wonder if the cycle will continue. We don’t know.

We do know that his friends have all moved on. With Princess Carolyn, Mr. Peanutbutter, Todd, and Diane all expressing their care for BoJack in their own way. All supportive to the bitter end, albeit in different ways now — as everyone has their own arcs and their own respective stories. Keeping a bit of distance from the toxicity BoJack brings into their lives.

This leads to the show’s final moments. Diane and BoJack on a roof talking. Diane tells him she got BoJack’s final voicemail. Felt guilty over being the person he called, his lifeline, the one responsible for saving him. BoJack tells her otherwise, though deep down, we know he’s made her out to be his saving grace and has for the entirety of the series. It’s very bittersweet and whatever relationship Diane and BoJack had, has now reached its inevitable conclusion. Along with all the potentiality of becoming lovers or even remaining friends.

“I think there are people that help you become the person you end up being and you can be grateful for them even if they were never meant to be in your life forever. “

Diane, in her final conversation with Bojack.

It’s sad but there’s also a lot of hope. As everyone is doing something and though it’s scary, sometimes all you can do is move on.

Because sometimes life’s a bitch and you just keep living.

The Take

As I write this I am quite literally speechless by how profound I found the finale and series. If you’ve ever experienced depression (who hasn’t) you should give this series a go. And for fellow fans of the series who stumble onto this let me say: BoJack helped get me through a hard time and got me to humanize my own flaws. Which are manageable. Even made me realize I’m not that bad compared to him as a character.

I hope the series helped you humbly find a bit of yourself in all that darkness too.

10/10

 

You watch BoJack end on Netflix. Right now

 

 

 

About Christian Angeles

Christian Angeles likes to watch the moving pictures. He also listens to words on the page and writes in ways that make people feel things. All on a laptop. Sometimes from an app on his phone. You can follow him on Facebook or Instagram. Read his literature reviews on goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/xnangeles. Or read his articles in NewBrunswickToday: http://newbrunswicktoday.com/author/christian-angeles

Check Also

Arrested Development

‘Arrested Development’ Season 5 Review: The Good, The Bad, and The Elderly

Don’t be fooled, Arrested Development season five is funny. It edges back to its roots …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *