You may not have heard of Bojack Horseman. You may still stubbornly, maintain, as I tried to, despite much evidence to the contrary, that cartoons are kid stuff. You may just not have room on your TV, sports, life schedule. To all of this, we offer the following rebuttal:
It’s Mad Men. It’s cinema. It’s beautiful. (There is no video clip I can post to tell you the marvel that is the montage and song episode 8, the Telescope, at 8:40 but Will Arnett does a very funny Eddie Vedder with “Generic 90’s grunge song/Everyone in flannel/Generic 90’s grunge song/Something from Seattle…..”)
Bojack Horseman has an awful lot going for it. It’s one of those things so good, like the 90’s it references, that it’s easy to take it for granted, like we did with Slowdive, Catherine Wheel, and the overabundance of that glorious comfort of flannel that we thought would always be there if we needed it. We were so sick of all that flannel once. In the recent wealth of Neflix offerings over the past year, Horseman is easily ignored, but an afternoon or two in its world and one is just as easily hooked. Will Arnett, a comic actor with a once-in-a-lifetime voice is perfectly cast as Bojack (Toronto’s most gravelly voiced native son is also a producer). Aaron Paul, fresh off of Breaking Bad, co-stars. The other greatest-Amy in comedy-Amy Sedaris, is perfect as Bojack’s sometime girlfriend, and on and off Agent, Princess Caroline.
Bojack Horseman’s world is both cartoon (anthropomorphic animal characters mix with human forms in a way that is totally accepted, with species-specific characteristics thrown in as side jokes) and yet, done in a way so funny that it has the ring of truth buried in its absurdist Hollywood fur. It’s a cautionary tale that could only sell, air, and entertain so well in a world softened by the Simpsons-esque tones of (delightful) animation. The show rarely goes into the reality-bending places it always could, instead, it usually stays rooted in an expensive glass prison that is the has-been celeb’s fate after the ratings and laugh track have died.
For Bojack Horseman is very funny, and like the best comedy (outside of bathroom humour and pratfall humour) very dark. Like the best of Hollywood self-referential insider comedy, it transcends the world of the millionaires with annoying amounts of leisure time and careless privilege to resonate with the rest of us in surprising ways as it sneak attacks the viewer with the big, universal, 3:00 am questions that plague us all.
Bojack Horseman is our newest anti hero/everyman. An everyman who disappears in blackout sex and alcohol, and shame-eating, but wants to find a route to a life of meaning even if he’s wasted half of it and is utterly alone. The show hinges on this former sitcom star (in the vein of Mr. Belvedere, but our money’s on a take on Scott Baio, the one time cute kid actor, then pin up dater of Heather Locklear and many more in their prime, star of “Charles in Charge” and now 50 something struggling reality star/actor/human). Bojack is working on his memoirs with the help of a beguiling writer and the cast of characters around him who alternately feed off his fame and wealth and give him a semblance of family (often the same people, moment to moment). There is a late season drug trip that goes darker than Lars Von Trier, and may have you reaching for the remote for an extended break.
In these round, blank, equine eyes, is a mirror that is quite riveting. Anyone who’s old enough, remembers that Cosby sweater when it was comforting, and not tacky, not a meme, and certainly not creepy. The 80’s and 90’s were good for all of us, and not just the half-million an episode stars (who really were real stars, and worth every penny, we now see). For we were innocent, and we laughed along to the laugh track for real. We liked the very special episodes and we accepted them as a seasonal or ratings sweep week norm, that we intuited from our little anonymous cushions in suburbia wherever. We liked that Horse, that babysitter, that robot, that taking car – and we accepted them like a fucked up yet charming uncle. And that was enough to fill 25 minutes of our Friday nights, in that innocent time. By Step On Magazine Editors