24 votes

Recommendation: BoJack Horseman (2014—) [Spoilerfree]

My previous recommendations:

So, I just finished binging all five seasons, and I think I can safely recommend this series to an audience that enjoys adult humor and series that juggle between the very funny and very serious.

BoJack Horseman is a series that starts slow and doesn't really seem to truly find itself until Season 3. I personally didn't enjoy the first half of Season 1 at all (got very bored). The second half of Season 1 got me to keep watching purely on the humor and the gags, which pretty consistently increase in quality as the show continues.

I especially got drawn in on all the "animal" gags. The series at some point early on becomes very comfortable going all out on visual&storytelling gags based on the animal playing them (BJH is an otherwise-normal universe where a significant part of the population is half-animal half-human). The humor is pretty high quality, I would easily compare it to the humor in Arrested Development (early seasons).
It is a series that makes fun of itself, without relying too much on gimmicks or breaking the fourth wall too much. With that said, Seasons 3 and 4 introduce more experimental episodes (including an entirely mute one, similar to the excellent Hush from Buffy, as well as another that only consists of a beautiful entire 22 minute monologue). None of them bored me. I was always extremely impressed with the execution and the quality.

What really gets me to recommend this series is its later seasons. Seasons 3 and 4 are of exceptionally high quality and the show becomes… very dark. But not without losing its humor. BoJack Horseman made me cry three times. I'm not talking about tearing up, I'm talking about the full waterworks like I've done only a couple of times in my entire adult life.
It's a show that punches you in the gut not by having grand romantic storylines; not by having heroic moments with epic music; not sympathetically by having manly characters tear up; not even by killing off beloved characters like Game of Thrones. It's a show that hits you because it's too fucking real.

In many ways, I would say that I enjoyed BJH for similar reasons that I enjoyed early GoT: It's unforgiving to its characters. But I don't want this to put anyone off from watching; it's a unique series to which I have a very hard time finding parallels. Its humor sits between Arrested Development, Futurama and Rick & Morty and is very much its own thing. Very reminiscent of Adult Swim.

BoJack Horseman is available on Netflix. Come for the gags, stay for your own reasons.

12 comments

  1. [2]
    Bal Link
    Bojack is a lovely show, it's actually the first cartoon I've fallen in love with post-childhood. It's weird how something so full of animal silliness can be so human underneath.

    Bojack is a lovely show, it's actually the first cartoon I've fallen in love with post-childhood. It's weird how something so full of animal silliness can be so human underneath.

    6 votes
    1. Eylrid Link Parent
      The silliness is what allows it to be so human. The dark subjects in Bojack would be a massive bummer without comedic relief. Adult animation's goofiness makes it a safe medium to tackle things...

      The silliness is what allows it to be so human. The dark subjects in Bojack would be a massive bummer without comedic relief. Adult animation's goofiness makes it a safe medium to tackle things that would normally make people very uncomfortable. Some shows use that to tackle political issues, some use it to tackle social justice issues, Bojack uses it for a deep dive into the human condition.

      6 votes
  2. [4]
    ainar-g Link
    (Trying to keep if spoiler-free.) You forgot to mention the show's interesting relationship with its fans, with Season Five outright calling out a part of the fan base. And then there is a...

    (Trying to keep if spoiler-free.)

    You forgot to mention the show's interesting relationship with its fans, with Season Five outright calling out a part of the fan base. And then there is a character's f-bomb moment in S03E10.

    P.S. I seriously think that Bojack Horseman is the best thing to happen to animated “TV” since the original seasons of The Simpsons, or at least since South Park has become a thing.

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      Adys Link Parent
      I get why they did what they did but having not been part of that fanbase, I didn't really catch on that this was a thing (until I read through the subreddit after I finished watching, and it...

      You forgot to mention the show's interesting relationship with its fans, with Season Five outright calling out a part of the fan base.

      I get why they did what they did but having not been part of that fanbase, I didn't really catch on that this was a thing (until I read through the subreddit after I finished watching, and it became self-evident). I'll be rewatching all of BJH though so I guess there's a lot of things I didn't catch the first time around that I'll get now.

      And then there is a character's f-bomb moment in S03E10.

      Was that unexpected? I did notice the series was very light on swearing overall. Anything special about an f-bomb on netflix?

      2 votes
      1. slambast Link Parent
        From what I understand, the series has a "thing" where they have exactly one f-bomb per season. I don't know if it's a restriction given to them or something self-imposed, but the effect is that...

        From what I understand, the series has a "thing" where they have exactly one f-bomb per season. I don't know if it's a restriction given to them or something self-imposed, but the effect is that you only hear "fuck" on Bojack at the most intense or pivotal moments. So "f-bomb moments" for Bojack are, more or less, the climax of each season.

        1 vote
      2. ainar-g Link Parent
        (Spoilers for Season Three.) The unexpected thing there was that the character who delivered the whole “You need to be better.” and “You are all the things that are wrong with you.” speech was...

        (Spoilers for Season Three.)

        The unexpected thing there was that the character who delivered the whole “You need to be better.” and “You are all the things that are wrong with you.” speech was Todd, the “comic relief”, the “non-serious one”. As a sibling comment has already pointed out, there is usually only one f-bomb per season, and the fact that Todd, of all people, used it on Bojack was surprising. At least to me, and a lot of fans on the subreddit.

        1 vote
  3. [3]
    balooga Link
    Would you recommend a newcomer dive straight into season 3 or are the first couple seasons required setup?

    Would you recommend a newcomer dive straight into season 3 or are the first couple seasons required setup?

    4 votes
    1. Whom Link Parent
      Definitely required.

      Definitely required.

      8 votes
    2. Adys Link Parent
      I'd recommend starting from the beginning. There's a lot of character setup required, to be honest; it's a series that suffers a lot from missing episodes / going out of order because you will be...

      I'd recommend starting from the beginning. There's a lot of character setup required, to be honest; it's a series that suffers a lot from missing episodes / going out of order because you will be missing out in the humor on many gag references, and also because every episode actually builds up the characters' motivations etc.

      Besides, Seasons 1 and 2 are still good, they're just not as… dark? serious? They still are I mean, but the series definitely climbs up to get to its peak. I definitely did get bored from the first ~5 episodes though, and almost didn't go back to watch more of it. First impressions and all that.

      5 votes
  4. Eylrid Link
    That monologue is a masterpiece. What it is, what it says and the fact that the show allows it to be there and work is amazing. There are a lot of great moments in the the show but that's...

    That monologue is a masterpiece. What it is, what it says and the fact that the show allows it to be there and work is amazing. There are a lot of great moments in the the show but that's definitely one of the standouts.

    3 votes
  5. bbvnvlt Link
    I got bored after episode 9 a while back. I thought I got further, but looking it up on netflix, it appears I don't. Based on this, I'll give it another go. Good to know that the show will develop...

    I got bored after episode 9 a while back. I thought I got further, but looking it up on netflix, it appears I don't. Based on this, I'll give it another go. Good to know that the show will develop over the seasons. Fearing/expecting that it wouldn't added to my disappointment/lack of interest at the time, I think.

    1 vote