The Impact of Bojack Horseman and its Final Season.

How Netflix’s sardonic little cartoon about an alcoholic horse changed discourse around mental illness and Celebrity culture

Bojack Horseman seems, at least in its first few episodes, to be little more than Hollywood’s attempt to poke fun at celebrities without much deeper meaning. However, Bojack Horseman has, over its six-season run, progressively gotten darker and darker, while simultaneously exploring more and more opportunities for hope, forgiveness and most of all, growth. For a show with a nearly unwatchable first few episodes, Bojack develops into a series with important discussions and serious topics explored in creative and innately human ways.

Bojack Horseman Season One Trailer.

As most fans of Bojack Horseman know, the penultimate episode of the season is often the most emotionally grueling. Season One’s penultimate episode titled “Downer Ending” deals with Bojack lashing out at Diane and those around him, leading him to a drugged-out binge with both his ex-child co-star Sarah Lynn and his roommate Todd. The episode ends with Bojack’s heartfelt apology to Diane at a Ghost Writer’s convention, and the heartbreaking question Bojack is tormented by, “Do you think it’s too late for me?” He begs and pleads for Diane to tell him that he is a “good person” and this, above all, is the question that plagues Bojack the most throughout its Six season run.

Final Scene of the series finale. pictured: Diane Nguyen and Bojack Horseman

This question of what it means to be a “good person” Is explored throughout the series in various ways as the viewer watches Bojack do awful things to the people around him. We see him spiral over and over and over again in a Sysiphean haze of hurting and betraying. We see him go to rehab and just when things start looking up for Bojack, the world comes crashing down once again as all of his past aggressions come to light.

What Bojack Horseman as a show gets so right is its nuance. You are never expected to excuse Bojack, but you are asked to see him. For all his faults. And nothing proves that more than the final season. Bojack has seemingly devoted himself to recovery and self-improvement. He goes to rehab, gets a job as a professor and establishes a stable and healthy life(Or as stable as Bojack’s life could get). This is where everything goes wrong for Bojack, but where I would argue, everything goes right for the show. Bojack’s manipulation of women, his reckless behaviors and especially his role in Sarah Lynn’s death all come to the fore as he is forced to answer for his behavior.

The Penultimate and final episodes of the series have Bojack pay for the trauma he is caused, while also further exploring his most innately human desire: to be a good person. This is what makes Bojack Horseman such an important show in today’s climate, and this is why Bojack Horseman will be sorely missed.