Review: BoJack Horseman

Back in the nineties he was in a very famous TV show. BoJack Horseman, the half man, half horse who starred in a successful sitcom called Horsin’ Around with a human family. If that sounds ridiculous to you, it is the tip of the iceberg for this Netflix original cartoon series.

BoJack, voiced by Will Arnett (Arrested Development, The Lego Movie), lives in a world where animals, or more accurately half human, half animals, coexist with regular humans. He lives in Hollywood, riding the coattails of his nineties success and wealth alongside more than occasionally binging on bourbon, with his unemployed wholly human flatmate Todd, voiced by Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad). The other main characters include Diane, another human who is writing a book on BoJack, and also dating Mr. Peanutbutter, an arrogant fraternity-type dog-man who starred in a rivalling sitcom to Horsin’ Around. BoJack, meanwhile, occasionally sees his agent Princess Carolyn, a pink cat-woman but it is clear the relationship is purely physical and professional.

If any of this article so far sounds the least bit entertaining or hilarious to you, I would recommend you immediately go and watch BoJack Horseman. For the most part, the writing and acting of these characters allow us to completely forget that many of them are weird mermaid-type creatures masquerading as human beings. They obviously all speak the same language, they drink, they dance, they have sex, they drive, they have jobs; but from time to time, we are reminded of their animalistic appearance and these moments make up some of the highlight gags in these initial 12 episodes. Example: a throw-away shot of a human being served up a steak in a restaurant by a very pissed off cow –woman in an apron or Mr. Peanutbutter’s excited barking and running towards a ringing doorbell.

BoJack Characters

Of course, fans of Seth MacFarlane’s work will note that this coexistence of animals and humans is something his cartoons have done for over a decade now and BoJack Horseman definitely has some similarity with its joking with the ridiculous idea of animals taking on human qualities whilst other characters take no notice at all. However, I have always been a fan of those types of jokes in Family Guy and American Dad so personally, I am all for BoJack taking that and making an entire universe where penguins are struggling publishers and elephants are bartenders.

These are not the only jokes which run through the show and in fact much of its humour would not be out of place in a human-based sitcom; albeit a late night one. There are a lot of animals being humans jokes but the point being that like those few comedies which turned out to be classics, this has more than that one trick up its sleeve. I am not predicting this to go on to be a classic necessarily but it feels like the writers, the producers and the actors had fun with the premise of how crazy they could get BoJack to be while at the same time it feels almost real (as stupid as I realise that sounds). The episodes here are also not completely self-containedand there is an overarching storyline and by the midpoint of this initial run, the characters start to flesh out and have human issues. Then, of course, we are slapped in the face by a gag and reminded what idiots we are for beginning to connect with a horse in a robe. Here is to another 12 episodes please Netflix because this is a great first season.



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