TV Review: “BoJack Horseman” – Resisting a Horse Pun

Written by Braden Thournout October 08, 2014

BoJack Horseman

A horse is a horse of course of course

 

It’s no secret that Netflix has been on a roll lately when it comes to being an original distributor for TV shows of their own, not just a convenient viewing medium. Between helping create shows like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black”, Netflix has also brought back shows like “Arrested Development” and “Trailer Park Boys.” It should come as no surprise, then, that their outing on an original animated series, “BoJack Horseman”,¬† is something very much worth taking a look at.

 

“BoJack Horseman” is centered on the life of wash-up 90’s sitcom actor BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett) as he attempts to regain popularity and adoration by writing his tell-all memoir. Being a depressed and procrastinating alcoholic sets this goal back, so his agent and girlfriend Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) hires him a ghost-writer, Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie). This is all highlighted by the delightful antics of his slacker friend Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul), and BoJack’s “friend” Mr. Peanut Butter (Paul F Tompkins), a star of a very similarly-themed sitcom.

“Hey, aren’t you the horse from Horsin’ Around?”

“BoJack Horseman” is a very different show than I first expected from the wonky art style and the poster I saw on Netflix. I expected a hammy and simple comedy about a guy who just happens to also be a horse, and while there are elements of that, there really is quite a lot going on. From the incredibly slick opening sequence with music by The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney to the ending credits tune by Grouplove, “BoJack Horseman” oozes a very interesting and catching sense of style. Don’t get me wrong, the jokes playing off the animal aspect of the characters can be some of the best one-off jokes in an episode, but it acts more as a vehicle for witty banter than a crutch.

BoJack Horseman

Straight from the horse’s mouth

 

As mentioned, the show is about a lot more than just BoJack trying to write his memoir. I have heard it described as “the funniest show about depression.” BoJack very clearly does not enjoy the person he has become, and a couple of episodes really are quite emotionally heavy for an animated comedy. From episodes spent begging for forgiveness from his mentor and former best friend, to a drug induced bender where BoJack pines for the life he could have had, there really is a lot going on. These sorts of character explorations aren’t limited to just the star either. There’s an episode of “BoJack Horseman” that is dedicated to exploring Princess Carolyn’s character; it provides incredible insight into her motivations and development as a character. As well as cat jokes. She is a cat.

“Am I hungover, or did you just start talking like a Muppet?”

One important thing to take note of when discussing an animated projec tsuch as “BoJack Horseman” is the quality of voice-over acting. I am a huge appreciator when it comes to voice work, and I have to say, this is some really quality stuff here. Will Arnett has some good experience under his belt with things like “The LEGO Movie” and work with Studio Ghibli, so it comes as no surprise that his gravelly voice is a perfect fit for the cynical lead of BoJack. ¬†Alison Brie, who also worked on “The LEGO Movie”, provides an excellent contrast to Arnett with her performance as Diane, who really seems to try to bring out the best in BoJack as well as somehow being the voice of reason in a zany world. Special note also has to be made for Aaron Paul as the delightful and dopey Todd Chavez. He really makes Todd loveable and seem simple – like when he needs to put on his ‘serious toque’ or beanie or whatever they call those hats south of the border -, while also giving some weight to various scenes by providing incredible insight.

BoJack Horseman

I promise, no more horse jokes. Instead: Penguin Publishing

 

On top of an incredibly talented core cast on the show, “BoJack Horseman” also has an impressive array of guest stars throughout the first season. Ranging from people like Olivia Wilde and Stephen Colbert, to J. K. Simmons and character actress Margo Martindale. There’s even a brief appearance by Anjelica Huston. These talented guest stars really spice up this fictional version of ‘Hollywoo’ (it’s a plot point/joke that just continues throughout the entire show) and is a treat for people who love to play ‘where do I know that voice from?’ Then there is Patton Oswalt playing pretty much everyone else. I’m not kidding; he has at least 10 roles over the course of all 12 episodes and it is awesome.

“That is a problem for Friday BoJack.”

As a man who has a great love for cartoons, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed “BoJack Horseman.” It seamlessly blends its comedic elements with the dramatic ones, and provides a nice balance and flow to the show. This blend gives it more depth than one would expect, and I find that to be fresh. I am highly anticipating the second season, which begins production in early 2015. I suggest you go watch the full first season of “BoJack Horseman” on Netflix right now.

My Rating: 8.5/10

BoJack Horseman

“I’m more horse than a man. Or I’m more man than a horse.”

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About Braden Thournout

Braden is a philosophy student with a love for old cartoons. He can probably tell you more about fictional worlds than the real one.

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