My Thoughts on “Bojack Horseman” Season 5

Just finished the fifth season of Netflix’s “Bojack Horseman”, the show I consider my yearly storytelling masterclass. Overall, it was another great season, though it did have a couple of blunders that would be passable in any other show, but were surprising in a show of this caliber.

Here’s what I thought, no spoilers (the actual spoilers are marked at the very end).

THE GOOD:

  • It’s amazing that they manage to keep Bojack as a character from stagnating. Around season three, I had a fear that having a character known for being depressed and shitty would write them into a corner. This season continued to wrap Bojack in more and more layers, making him a lot more relatable (ironically, considering the message it says about antiheroes in TV).
  • The show never forgets itself. Every horrible moment in Bojack’s past is still as present as ever, both for the character and for the audience. I just love how it can be as horrifying as it wants and because of how well it is written, nothing ever feels gratuitous, or done for shock value alone.
  • In the same way, it’s great that they keep exploring Hollywood’s rottenness without repeating themselves. I guess it’s a big fucking swamp, but I do like that the satire isn’t growing stale.
  • Though Bojack is one of my all-time favorite TV characters, and he’s never been more likable than in this season, I dug that it’s a bit less about him from the get-go. Maybe this shift in focus is what kept the character alive.
  • The sixth episode is a masterpiece and I see it being studied in writing courses, and mentioned in shitty “Top X Animated Episodes Of All Time” listicles.
  • The seventh episode is perfect “Bojack”. The framing device is clever and the story uses it for excellent humor, but it also moves the story along brilliantly.
  • Overall I think this is the lightest season, emotionally speaking. Not to say there weren’t several heart-breaking and heavy moments, but I don’t think I’ll go into the pit the show usually sends me. Which is weird because I don’t think I had ever felt closer to Bojack.
  • Thank you for also exploring Mr. Peanutbutter. I just love seeing him act.
  • I’d watch the shit out of the show-within-a-show “Philbert” and hilariously I was very much drawn to its dumbass story. It just tears TV apart.
  • Though the comedy felt a bit less densely packed than usual, I’ll always appreciate the insane scope of its humor. It does ridiculously wacky physical humor just as well as it does funny wordplay and subtlety.
  • There was a “The Constant Gardener” reference and I couldn’t believe it.

THE BAD:

  • In general, the writing of female characters was extremely messy with the sole exception of Princess Carolyne. I liked Gina, but despite the show’s several attempts at giving her depth, she didn’t click as a three-dimensional character until very late in the season. Love seeing Rosa Diaz in Bojack though. Pickles had moments of light but in general felt less like a fully formed character and more like a prop for Mr. Peanutbutter’s arc. Diane had never been more unlikable. I really miss Wanda.
  • The presence of one particular character marked what has to be the show’s lowest point, writing-wise. Skip to the end for the spoiler note.
  • Yolanda’s story went absolutely nowhere. The episode was funny, but it added very little to her character, Todd’s, and even the show’s daring exploration of asexuality.
  • The season, in general, seems a bit disjointed and it’s not until the very end that you really understand why. I might be giving it too much credit, but it’s still a bit messy. 

THE UGLY:

  • “Bojack Horseman” will never be known for excellent character design but goddamn, did they have to make Pickles so . . . ugly? Maybe I just hate pugs.
  • I’m still not 100% certain that Diane’s unlikability this season was deliberate.

SPOILER NOTES

  • Hollyhock’s episode might be the worst in the show (well . . . after the one about Diane’s family in season one). I was glad to see her back because I liked the character last season, but in general she was a walking talking plot point here. I was mad by the sudden and ridiculous throwing Bojack’s pills down the drain, which in itself makes no sense despite the show’s desperate attempts to justify it. But then when I realized that it wasn’t just a plot point, but the most important development in the entire season, I really felt like they had dropped the ball.
  • It would’ve been so much more interesting to see PC not adopt the kid in the end. I thought that’s where they were going, and it would’ve made for a good twist.
  • Beloved Character Actress Margo Martindale’s appearance was pointless. If they had nothing to do with the character, don’t put her in (like they didn’t in season four). This show should be above fan service.