Netflix releases animated series

Ryder McEntyre, Campus Carrier Graphics Editor

What do a former sitcom actor, a talking horse, an incredibly real depiction of clinical depression, alcoholism, a series of animal puns unmatched by any other television series and Netflix have in common?

Bojack Horseman, voiced by Will Arnett of “Arrested Development’s” Gob fame, is a former sitcom actor, a horse person and an incredibly depressed alcoholic surrounded by incredible animal puns. From the Patrick Carney-produced theme song, to the Grouplove end-credit jingle, “Bojack Horseman,” the latest original offering from Netflix, is a sight for sore eyes when it comes to biting critiques and animated television. Imagine if Larry David combined “Daria” and “Californication”  with the animal puns present in “Family Guy,” and you’ve got a fairly convoluted yet close approximation of “Bojack’s” curiously addicting vibe.

Photo courtesy of Netflix”BoJack Horseman” features Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”).

At first the puns seem to be slightly heavyhanded, but as you get into the first season, it becomes clear that they have littered the show with in-jokes and easter eggs to be found. For example, in the second episode, an anchor in the form of a whale on the channel “MSNBSea” is detailing the rudeness of Bojack Horseman towards a Navy SEAL who is an actual seal. The ticker under the newscaster has an array of off the wall, barely noticeable yet hilarious news items such as “I could have written a novel”. This breaks the fourth wall in such a self-deprecating way, which is kind of the show’s point.

The series, which is available right now on Netflix, is a genre-shifting event. While it has some aspects of situational comedy shows that it seems to spoof, that’s the important part of “Bojack Horseman,” not the ironic talking animals and the self deprecation. “Bojack,” like many other Netflix shows including “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” and the new “Arrested Development” season, was produced by and for Netflix, making it yet another series literally made to be binge watched.

                                  Photo courtesy of Netflix
“BoJack Horseman” features Will Arnett
(“Arrested Development”).

 A lot of my friends who said they watched the first episode decided that it wasn’t for them after just one and decided to stop watching alltogether. I found the honesty and sincerity of Bojack’s portrayal of anger, depression and mistakes to be much more compelling, so I convinced them to watch a few more episodes. Then they started to binge watch it, and by the end of the first season, they realized that this show was something special.

That’s the important part about this show. It’s made to be seen as a whole. It’s like a long movie. The closest approximation we have to this idea is how books used to be published in serialized form over the course of months in different volumes, then later they were brought together into book form once they became popular. Sitcoms’ episodes are meant to stand alone, but “Bojack Horseman” is not the old version of a sitcom. “Bojack” is the Netflix variety of sitcom, where the particular situations in each episode are largely inconsequential to the plot at large, but the character development is so much more of a factor throughout the entire first season. We see Bojack Horseman deal with complete and utter failure throughout the season, only to find himself exactly where he wants to be and still not satisfied. 

Although some might think “Bojack Horseman” starts slow, the character development deepens much like many of Netflix’s features. Each episode is built off of the other much like “The Simpsons” and alludes well to the infamous sitcoms of the 80s. It takes some re-watching to catch all of the background details and animal innuendos, but the show is worth sticking around for.

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