Bojack Horseman series 5 (2018) review

‘Bojack Horseman’ continues to be equal parts entertaining and difficult to watch in it’s emotionally crippling, hilarious fifth series. Where the end of series four left us with a glimmer of hope that our titular steed would be on track to making the improvements needed to better himself, this series shows that things will be getting worse before they get better. If they get better.

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‘Bojack’ is a show that while getting progressively darker and more emotionally savage, also seems to get better and better with each series. The characters become even more compelling with further backstory provided for the likes of Princess Caroline and Mr. Peanutbutter and their specific narratives becoming almost as prevalent as the title character’s. The development for Princess Caroline in particular took the driver’s seat this series as she attempts to solve her particular brand of depression by filling the void with adoption. While it is gratifying to see her momentary happiness at the end of the series; a child never solves a crisis of purpose. Diane also took centre stage this series, becoming a near mirror image to Bojack in terms of a lack of direction, but still attempting to maintain her dignity and moral high-ground. That said, perhaps sleeping with her ex-husband repeatedly somewhat diminishes that goal. And then, there’s Bojack. Sadly, despite the last series gifting him a sweet and caring sister in Hollyhock, series 5 brings a number of skeletons from his closet and pushes him to an absolute new low by episode eleven. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to validate our protagonist and the show is doing an insanely good job of making the audience question our feelings about him. It also seems to be setting in motion a multi-series narrative culminating all of the terrible things we’ve seen Bojack do since the start of the show in an explosive fashion. Expect to hear the names of Sarah-Lynne, Charlotte, Herb and Penny as we start to gear up for a finale.

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‘Bojack Horseman’ revels in its satire of Hollywood and never shies away from controversies of the past year. Unsurprisingly, they chose to tackle the topic of sexual harassment, victim blaming and collateral damage of the actions of these cases. The obvious stab at the recent Weinstein controversy is addressed in a suitably powerful but typically farcical fashion centring around a sex robot that has a dildos for hands and can only shout expletives. The show uses a generic character as a conduit for the satire at first, but the lack of consequences for abuse and assault are disturbingly reflected onto Bojack during the final two episodes. This further strains the audience’s relationship with him and makes us wonder if we’ll ever consider him a good guy.

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If there wasn’t comedy in this show, it might be one of the most depressing pieces of television on at the moment. Yes, the same programme with talking animal people as it’s leads, is indeed, the most reflective and honest look at society and Hollywoo(d) culture today. Fortunately, it is still a comedy and the jokes this series are some of the shows best. Aaron Paul’s Todd remains one of the few virtuous characters left on a show where almost all of our main characters are sliding into further depression and self-destruction on a mountain of their own terrible decisions. Todd provides a lot of the laughs; a brilliant episode revolving around meeting his asexual girlfriend’s parents and the aforementioned sex robot are just two examples of his endearing levity. The plot driven and deeply nihilistic episode ‘Free Churro’ is a prime example of the now staple ‘experimental episode,’; this time consisting of a single monologue for the entire length of the episode from Bojack. This perfectly illustrates the broken relationship with his parents, yet also provides a number of outlandish jokes that remind us that this is a black comedy. Despite all of this however, the focus is always on the drama, and Bojack series five might just be the darkest the show has gone to date.

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In conclusion, I loved ‘Bojack Horseman: Series Five.’ The show feels like it is sewing the seeds of a finale as it continues to encourage their audience to think about not only issues in the media around showbiz, but also the bigger questions, like what it truly means to be a good person. Or even, are there good and bad people, or just people doing good and bad things, as Diane explains to Bojack in the final episode. It’s rare for me to be so invested in a show, but I truly can’t wait for series six. I also find myself heavily invested in every character and am equally anxious to see how they further develop as I wonder if our leads will ever face their own demons and make the necessary improvements to their lives to finally be happy.

9/10

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