BoJack Horseman is a very depressing show about depression. It’s a cutting and poignant drama about life, mental illness, insufficiency, and the flawed nature of humanity. But I’m on the fence on if that’s actually a good thing.
I think this clip is an accurate encapsulation of the show as a whole. It can be very funny, but there’s a very dark core narrative underneath it, and there’s rarely anything that can be described as a happy ending, with almost every episode cutting off without a satisfying resolution. While the series currently ends on a fairly positive note, it’s still a very bleak journey of people being horrible, backsliding on their attempt to improve, and wallowing in a spiral of misery that seems inescapable.
When watching this show, I was reminded of an analysis article I read about The Force Awakens that referenced the Greek theatrical practice of catharsis. When I told Farla about it, she said it didn’t actually seem helpful — Greek theater may have had incredible insight into the human condition, but it had no solution. We shouldn’t necessarily laud depressing things just because they’re insightful.
I wonder if, perhaps, a similar thing can be said here. BoJack Horseman does not offer much in the way of solutions. It’s just endlessly miserable, and, frustratingly, involves characters refusing to take the few solutions that are obvious in favor of making obvious mistakes and continuing to be miserable. I think that past a certain point, that stops being true-to-life and starts just being miserable for misery’s sake. Life is not actually hopeless, good people do exist, there are ways out of bad situations. It’s important to search for those solutions instead of resigning yourself to despair. The most recent (fourth) season does look like the series might finally be heading in a more positive direction, but there are still three seasons of soul-crushing misery leading up to it, and the characters could always backslide again.
Also, Mr. Peanutbutter is insufferable and I hope Diane divorces him.
If you do choose to watch this… do take care of yourself. There are too many trigger warnings to list, though depression, suicide, and abuse are probably the big ones.