BoJack Horseman: Season 5 created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Tornante Company, ShadowMachine, and Netflix)
Starring Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, and Paul F. Tompkins.
A Matter of Change
Can we really change? And, if not, what does that mean for society?
Almost everything we do in the modern world operates under the assumption of change. We study, and our knowledge base grows; we practice, and our skills refine. If these external indicators point toward a changing state, doesn’t it stand to reason that our inner lives change too?
And yet, certain schools of behavioral psychology argue differently. These theories posit that most elements comprising our internal selves are innate, hard-wired and incapable of change. We are who we are, and our best life is likely lived if we can discover and lean into the people we are.
For some, such a position distributes a dose of comfort in this harsh world. No matter the external pressures, all you can be is you.
But what if you’re an asshole?
BoJack Horseman asks this question in Season 5.
The Stars Align
For the first time in the entire series, the main characters are pointing toward the same goal. With Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) having green lit production on the gritty detective series—Philbert, for a Netflix stand-in, whattimeisitrightnow.com—BoJack (Will Arnett) gets to play a depressed alcoholic. Otherwise known as, himself.
Riffing with his co-star Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) using the humanized script from Diane (Alison Brie), BoJack eventually blurs fiction and reality. As the season unfolds, this fine line between his character and his true self becomes a numbing agent, and he eventually finds comfort in his brokenness. BoJack realizes that he’s a bad guy, but he’s no worse a person than anyone else.
Even though this realization links closely to certain positions in behavioral psychology, namely the static nature of our personality, it rattles against our belief in the forward momentum of character development. We want protagonists to change, and if there’s one rule in the BoJack universe, it’s that people don’t change.
So, the viewer must live in this tension, especially when this nihilistic worldview creates discord among the characters that are so closely linked to the main plot this year.
Do we change? Should we change? What would happen to us all if we lost our belief in the capacity for change regardless of ever achieving it? Season 5 of BoJack Horseman wants the viewer to ponder this question long after the final episode’s end credits fade. And at least for me, it has succeeded.
Verdict: 5 out of 5