Review: BoJack Horseman continues show’s darkly comedic trend
Goddamn. As if the first three seasons of “BoJack Horseman” didn’t dive deeply enough into depressing emotional turmoil, the fourth season sure as hell does its best to leave us feeling 20,000 leagues under.
The season opens, and BoJack’s been missing for three months since season 3’s end, but the lives of those in Hollywoo manage to trek on without the show’s star, self-deprecating addict of a protagonist. In his absence, we are given a look into the themes of “BoJack Horseman’s” array of other main characters that will be their focus for the better part of the rest of the season.
So, how are their lives going? Well Mr. Peanutbutter is running for public office, which goes without saying is “BoJack Horseman’s” way of dealing with the current political climate; Diane and Princess Caroline struggle to maintain their respective relationships; and Todd? Well he’s on a journey to understand his sexuality.
Oh, and by the opener’s end we are given a glimpse of a new character, (*deep breath*) Hollyhock Mannheim-Guerrero-Robinson-Zilberschlag-Hsung-Fonzerelli-McQuack, who might just be BoJack’s daughter – so there’s that.
So where’s BoJack been for the past three months? He’s been secluding himself from the celebrity of Hollywoo, mulling over the life he is desperately trying to find a meaning for. To do this, he finds himself in Michigan, the location of his mother’s childhood home, “The Old Sugarman Place.” It’s no secret many of BoJack’s internal struggles come from a rough, seemingly loveless childhood and by bringing BoJack back to the origins of his mother, Bea, it provides detailed context as to why she treated him the way he did.
While the first episode gives the stories of “BoJack Horseman’s” other characters, the second breathes life into BoJack’s. But with life comes pain and the pain doesn’t stop beating on until the season’s finale. Here, we are given a window via multiple flashbacks into Bea’s dreary home life, plagued with the death of her brother, emotional collapse of her mother and her stereotypical 1940s father who’s incapable of handling his family’s distress.
When BoJack first arrives at “The Old Sugarman Place,” it’s as run down as an abandoned home is expected to be – leaving BoJack to attempt to repair the home, representing his and his family’s past, by himself. Obviously, and to the dismay of his new neighbors, he fails. This leads to his neighbor, Ed, volunteering himself to help fix the house – help that BoJack was reluctant to receive until realizing the impossibility of the task.
Within the first two episodes, “BoJack Horseman” is able to foreshadow the entire fourth season’s premise. For BoJack, the idea of running from his demons will only create new ones, and the only way to truly deal with the pain they cause is to face them. That perseverance requires a support system, and alienating yourself from those who care about you will only add to your detriment.
Ultimately, the fourth season of “BoJack Horseman” was a rollercoaster of emotions, none of which were more wrenching than the state of Bea in episode 11, “Time’s Arrow.” However, its trademark use of frequent visual gags and clever word play continues to let the dark undertones breathe. By season’s end, the sadness endured throughout will pay off with a rare glimpse of optimism, leaving hope that all is still not lost for BoJack.