A gentle upwards spiral

TV: BoJack Horseman: Season 6 – Part 1, Netflix; Reviewed by Laura Oxley.

For any newcomers to the series, it is worth pointing out that BoJack Horseman is actually a comedy. Whilst it can be incredibly bleak at times and deals with some hard-hitting themes, it can also at times have a very light touch and be extremely charming. You should also be aware that the leading character of this animated series is literally a horse-man.

In BoJack’s world, humans co-exist with a variety of anthropomorphised animals. Picking up from where the last season left off as BoJack checks into rehab, determined to confront some of the more questionable choices in his life, Season 6 delves deeper into the lives, relationships and (often fairly dark) pasts of BoJack, Diane, Princess Carolyn, and the rest of the ensemble cast.

Clinging to his fame from being in a TV show in the 90s, BoJack is now a washed-up actor. He lives a lifestyle steeped in drugs and alcohol. The depiction of BoJack, as he comes to terms with his substance abuse, follows him from his initial feelings of dejection through a gentle upwards spiral towards recovery. The show explores BoJack’s relationship with drugs and alcohol, revealing how he has used substances to help him cope with stressful situations.

Alongside the substance abuse problems, BoJack has some serious attachment issues, judging from the glimpses we get into his childhood home life. His father was a distant workaholic and his mother was neglectful, bitter, and constantly putting BoJack down. Both of his parents were heavy drinkers, and BoJack has adopted many of the same addictions and sense of bitterness as his parents.

Meanwhile, BoJack’s human friend and one-time ghost writer, Diane, continues her search for happiness and striving to make the world a better place from her own uniquely cynical viewpoint. Beginning the season travelling to make videos for blog Girl Croosh, Diane ends up navigating a new relationship in a new city and finally determines to write her book.

Princess Carolyn, a pink cat who is BoJack’s former agent, has successfully achieved her dream of becoming a mother but finds that it is more difficult to balance work and parenthood than she had expected. The episode depicting Princess Carolyn’s frantic efforts to juggle the numerous competing demands on her time will ring a bell for many working parents.

Season 6 continues the show’s engaging exploration of the dysfunctional relationships between the main characters, with the final episode beginning to bring together elements from earlier seasons. Things at last seem to be going reasonably well for BoJack, but can this last?

- Reviewed by Laura Oxley, PhD student with the Psychology in Education Research Centre at the University of York and one of our Voices In Psychology winners.

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber