Katie Roman Books



Bojack Horseman - There's a Reckoning Coming

Posted on October 28, 2019 at 9:40 PM

I meant to put up these blog posts on different days, before I watched season six and after, but due to a truly bizarre emailing mishap I couldn’t access the BEFORE blog post until today. So they will be appearing together. Why? Because they’re both ready and I’m already on my laptop, that’s why.

Before Watching

Bojack's last season dropped. I haven't watched it yet. I have stupid homework to do. But I did want to reflect on the previous five seasons.

When I first started watching, my general response was "what the fuck am I even watching? This isn't even funny." But oh, I was wrong. I made it through the first episode with lukewarm feelings, but Netflix has that insidious autoplay feature. And then I met Neal McBeal, the Navy Seal, and the deadpan delivery of the whale newscaster that followed had me hooked. It was utterly absurd, but amongst the absurdity was a reflection on society. It was weird.

The series was already finished with season two when I started and you can bet I binged the hell out of them. I honestly didn't know when season one ended and season two started as I plowed through. I've watched through the series a few time, the most recent season being the exception and that's simply been due to lack of time. I recommend the series to everyone, even though I know it's a hard sell and it's not for the easily offended.

Bojack is an asshole. He is constantly making selfish choices that hurt everyone connected to him. I want to hate him, but I can't. The writers do such a good job of making Bojack a truly flawed individual. He is selfish and he can be cruel to his friends and I won't give him a pass for his treatment because he is mentally ill. Bojack is profoundly depressed and doesn't seek treatment, he doesn't get a pass when he has all the access and privilege to get help. And yet, I still feel for Bojack. He's easily discouraged. He wants to be good and he wants to be happy, but he's held back by his own failures and he is constantly getting in his own way. The episode "Stupid Piece of Sh*t" gives us a look into Bojack's head. And his inner thoughts mirror so many of my own. I simply cannot hate Bojack because I understand his struggle.

And the punches just keep coming. Bojack loses a lot of people. Some who he burned his bridges with, others who enabled him and who he also enabled, and each one is felt. Even the dementia and death of his mother is felt despite the abusive relationship Bojack has with her. Sarah Lynn's death is especially painful as we spend an episode hearing about her broken dreams only to have her die from an overdose at a place she loved talking about fulfilling her dream of being an architect. I'm not crying, you're crying.

Despite all this, there's so much to laugh at. Todd alone is hilarious, even if nothing else funny ever happened. Todd. But also, Vincent Adultman, three children in a trench coat passing as one adult man. He did a business, goddamnit! There's countless sight gags. Almost the whole "Underground" episode is hilarious. Jessica Biel (the real Jessica Biel) creating a new society of underground celebrities in a postapocalyptic scenario is pretty great. And the continuity is fantastic. Bojack stole the D from the Hollywood sign in season one. It's still not restored and everyone is still just saying "Hollywoo."

I am sad this is the last season. I love this show. It has consistently been good and rewatchable. I can't say that for a lot of shows Netflix has.

After Watching

I've seen the term on a few reviews about this season and I've got to agree a reckoning is coming.

I didn't realize Bojack's final season was being broken up into two parts, but there's a lot of threads to explore, so I'm glad it wasn't crammed into 8 episodes. Bojack has hurt a lot of people over his five seasons and in the eighth episode we don't even see the main characters, but rather the people who he's hurt. Kelsey, of course, Gina, obviously, but it's Hollyhock's scenes that comes as the most shocking.

Hollyhock meets Pete, who talks her down from an anxiety attack at a party. We cut back and forth between the lives of those Bojack ruined with his addiction, his selfishness, and all his untreated issues. Slowly we come to realize we know Pete as he recounts his prom where his girlfriend had to get her stomach pumped because an older man gave them bourbon. Pete is Penny's friend from New Mexico and this is Bojack's biggest, most shameful secret. All signs point to a reckoning for Bojack. Reporters are closing in on what really happened to Sarah Lynn and Hollyhock is about to learn what happened in New Mexico. Sweet, little Hollyhock who Bojack loves and holds in esteem and cares how she views him, will learn about what happened with Penny on prom night.

It is going to be brutal whatever happens. Bojack is finally getting things together. He's out of rehab. He's making positive choices in his life. He's ready to move forward, but the past isn't ready to let him go. Bojack, while being embroiled in his guilt hasn't truly made amends for his actions. He lied about Sarah Lynn's OD and that he wasn't with her, egging her on. He has buried New Mexico, hoping it never sees the light of day. He hasn't come clean about what really happened when he assaulted Gina. He's moving on, but as we see from the eighth episode, the victims of his abuse have not. And having Pete there, recounting prom in New Mexico, is a reminder there are people beyond the oft seen/mentioned cast that suffered for his actions.

So what happens now? Bojack is terrible, the show doesn't sugarcoat it. His flaws are pointed out and in rehab Bojack even says he is responsible for his own actions. No one ever forced his hand. Bojack is sympathetic and hateful, weighed down by guilt, with a desire to do better, but held back by his own anger and pettiness. He's complex and while I want Bojack to answer for his multiple crimes, I also want him to keep moving forward and not fall back into old patterns when he is forced to face the reckoning of his own making. Whatever happens, Bojack is going to be rocked to his core and the remainder of the season is going to be dark and heartbreaking. Not just for Bojack, but for his friends and family.

About Penny

Quick recap for those who haven’t watched season 2 in a minute.

Bojack takes his friend, Charlotte’s, daughter, Penny, to prom when the boy she likes doesn’t ask her. He dances with her on top of a water tower. Afterwards she approaches him to have sex. She says it’s all on the up and up because seventeen is the age of consent in New Mexico and she didn’t drink like her friends so she’s not being coerced due to alcohol. Bojack tells her no, she doesn’t want it even if she thinks she does. Bojack then goes to Charlotte, asking her to run away with him. She turns him down and tells him to leave in the morning.

Bojack climbs onto his yacht where Penny is waiting. He tells her to go to bed, dismissing her a second time. Charlotte heads to bed and goes to see Bojack when she hears a sound only to find Penny in his room, in his bed. Nothing happened, but Bojack is left wondering if he would have done something if Charlotte hadn’t walked in.

We don’t know if Penny persisted and went into Bojack’s room or if he changed his mind and asked her to, but the one thing we know is Bojack never, EVER, puts the blame on Penny. Not once does he utter “she came onto me first!” in a weak defense of himself and his actions. Bojack knows what he did was wrong and he knew Penny was too young to make a truly informed decision about sex. He’s the adult and he knows better and he knows he messed up. What happens is upsetting, to say the least, but I do like that the show makes sure Bojack and the audience know, this is in no way the fault of the seventeen-year-old girl. It doesn’t matter that Penny went to him, what matters is Bojack let it get to the point it did.

I’m interested to see if the end of season six fills in that blank of how Penny ended up in his bedroom, or if they leave it unknown. I like the idea it’ll be left unknown because it really doesn’t matter if Penny persisted or Bojack asked her to his room. In the end what matters is she ended up there.

It wasn’t all sad

It was filled with its usual brand of absurd and serious.

Todd is a nanny! To Untitled Princess Carolyn Project. We also meet his stepdad, who doesn’t understand the majesty of Todd and his hijinks, but maybe he will.

Diane gets fat! This is a good thing because it means she's taking her antidepressants and making positive changes in her life. Also her new boyfriend is adorable.

Judah and Princess Carolyn are reunited. When she fired Judah I was gutted. She is so often surrounded by needy idiots. Judah was calm and efficient, acting as her right hand. His return as her right hand makes me extremely happy.

All the Portillo's sight gags. I can't. Also, Diane getting on the Cottage Grove line is hilarious. However, unlike what Guy says, she's not screwed. They were at State/Lake when she got on. She's in the Loop, she just needs to get off at the next stop and transfer to the Blue or Orange line, depending on her airport. Come on, Guy.

Margo Martindale is back! This, this is the most important thing to happen.

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