REVIEW: ‘BoJack Horseman’ (2020) Says Goodbye To One of the Greatest Ever TV Shows Ever Produced

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“A perfect ending to one of the greatest television shows ever produced.”

This review contains mild spoilers for the finale of BoJack Horseman.

Everything must come to an end, be it a 90-minute feature film or a long-running series that spans years. The best finales end with a scene that perfectly wraps up the thematic elements of the story and, even better, has a final shot that lingers in the mind of the viewers for years to come. With BoJack Horseman; after five and a half seasons of hilarious visual gags, sharp Hollywood satire and emotional gut punches, we get eight incredibly written episodes that encapsulate the series as a whole, capped off with a perfect final shot that hammers home the show’s message through a stunning frame that will be remembered for years to come.

After seeing BoJack (Will Arnett) finally change into a vaguely better person (horseperson?) in the first part of the final season, we catch up with him as a professor in an acting class, where he actually enjoys teaching his students. BoJack may have changed as a person but the past still haunts him, and this time he comes face to face with the consequences of his actions. The final episodes highlight issues that BoJack has faced over the entirety of the whole series: from addictions to sex and substances, narcissistic behaviour, using his status for power, even his mild misogyny at times. The writers, rightfully so, punish BoJack and so it becomes a question of how he reacts to being called out for his past mistakes. 

An anthropomorphic horse and an anthropomorphic mouse sitting down having an interview, from the animation BoJack Horseman.
Image courtesy of Netflix

BoJack can’t answer those questions without the rest of the delightful cast, who also get their own moments in the spotlight. We see Diane’s (Alison Brie) complicated issues with depression and writing her memoir, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) discovering her passions within and outside of work, Todd (Aaron Paul) confronting his family issues and Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) still trying to make amends with his fiancé Pickles (Hong Chau). Credit must go to the writers’ for continuing to balance out these in-depth subplots whilst feeding them into the larger narrative; as each character nearly gets as much screen time as BoJack does. Credit also to the show for maintaining what makes BoJack Horseman so different and special. The visual gags still dominate the background in every frame, the humour is delightfully silly without detracting from the drama and they still use the animated format to create surreal sequences that help push the narrative forward. A highlight is a sequence visualising Diane’s writers block in crude notebook drawings and typewriter text correcting itself along with her thoughts. For all the emotional highs we get in these final episodes, its nice to see that the creators haven’t forgotten what made the show so engaging in the first place.

At first it seems that the characters all feed into BoJack’s character arc. After finally getting his comeuppance for all his past wrongdoings and even shrinking down into the darkest places he’s been yet; it’s what happens to BoJack’s relationships with these characters that become the focal point of the narrative and BoJack’s narrative. Just like us viewers, the characters sympathise with BoJack, but we feel justice is earned from his punishment. By the final episodes though, its clear that BoJack has fed into everybody else’s arc too. The show was never solely about BoJack, but about the people who help you become the person you eventually become. All the character arcs end in a way that feels satisfying and complete. The relationships between everyone feel like they reach a satisfying end point too; some joyful and some more bittersweet. BoJack Horseman, much like the titular character, can be quite nihilistic. Even in the series’ second-to-last episode ‘The View from Halfway Down’, the show explores existentialism in an unforgiving way that is genuinely horrifying and difficult to face. We end though with a sense of optimistic nihilism, which the show has always been heading towards in terms of what it wanted to say. As one character says, “Sometimes life’s a bitch and then you keep living.” These characters have tried to simply get out of bed each morning and exist in an often time difficult world; and the show reassures us that that is enough.

Since 2014, BoJack Horseman has equally entertained us and forced us to confront harsh truths about ourselves. It is an achievement that the show has maintained that balance and high standard of writing for six whole seasons. The show hits the heart strings and tear ducts not just because of the dramatic lows, but because of the honesty towards just simply living; which rings true in these final episodes. The final frame will move you not just because of the bittersweet and ultimately hopeful ending but also because we say goodbye to one of the greatest series ever put to television. 

Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Produced by: Will Arnett, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Noel Bright, Alexander Bulkley, Corey Campodonico, Richard Choi, Steven A. Cohen, Peter Knight, Aaron Paul

Cast: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Allison Brie, Aaron Paul, Paul F. Tompkins

Release Date: 31st January 2020

Available on: Netflix