A few years back, I found a show.
Bojack Horseman, featuring the vocal talents Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris, and Alison Brie. An animated program about an anthropomorphic horse — lots of anthropomorphic animals are present, actually, and some people too — in Los Angeles. With a cast like that, and a name like Bojack Horseman, you’re expecting some hilarious good times, right?
I’m not saying that Bojack doesn’t deliver that. It does, really. Bojack is a washed-up, alcoholic, former TV star who has not quite accepted that he is both washed-up and former. The first season focuses on his memoir, which is not going so well.
Hey, we’ve all been there, Bojack. Except Frangi.
So his publisher hires him a ghostwriter, because they’re expecting Bojack’s book to save the company. (His publisher is named Pinky Penguin.)
Despite the fact that she gives him advice he really doesn’t want to follow, he falls in love with her.
But she’s in a relationship with Bojack’s arch-nemesis, Mr. Peanutbutter. Of course, Mr. Peanutbutter is pretty sure that he and Bojack are best friends. Because he is a GOOD DOG.
Mr. Peanutbutter is constantly getting into crazy shenanigans and developing wild business ventures with Bojack’s roommate, Todd. Hooray!
And rounding out the cast is Princess Carolyn, Bojack’s agent/lover/friend who is compulsively trying to find happiness and keep her life together. When that proves tough, she focuses on keeping other people’s lives together.
Somehow, despite the fact that this sounds like it could be any other animated comedy, it’s not. It’s funny, sure, but it’s also deep. It is by far the best representation of depression I have ever seen on television, really.
And I know, I know, that probably shouldn’t be a hallmark of a show that won’t ruin your life. But it won’t. It will make you examine your life, and the things you do, and the way you treat other people. It will make you laugh. It might make you cry.
Bojack spends the series searching for meaning, trying to be better. He gets everything he wants, mostly, but it’s never enough.
It is a truly, truly astonishing show.
I’ve suffered from depression for years and years, and it’s refreshing to see a show that gets it. A show that doesn’t shy away from it.
And this show doesn’t shy away from anything. It was prescient before prescient was cool — but because it’s animated, they don’t get to rewrite half the season when their predictions fall flat. They’ve dealt with abortion, with gun control, with infertility. Drug use. Alcoholism. Infidelity. Death by autoerotic asphyxiation, even!
There’s an episode focusing on sexual assault allegations toward a beloved Hollywood television host — clearly reflecting Bill Cosby, but more relevant now than it was even then.
It also has the world’s best background gags. No matter how many times you watch the show, you’re always finding new things. It’s awesome.
Watch it! Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you.
In honor of Bojack Horseman season five, which is what I am doing this weekend in case you are wondering, please enjoy my old recommendation of this program in the somewhat ironically titled series, “something that won’t ruin your life.”