3 of My Favorite "BoJack Horseman" Episodes

BoJack Horseman is an animated series about a horse who had his time in the spotlight in the '90s when he was the star of a Full House-esque TV show. The series follows BoJack and his battle with mental illness, drug addiction, and the life he's created for himself. I love the show and have rewatched it more than once, so here are three of my favorite episodes. (Warning: Spoilers!)

"Downer Ending" (Season 1, Episode 11)

In this episode, BoJack tries to rewrite the memoir Diane has been writing to get him back in the spotlight. BoJack hates it because it showcases the 'real' him. So, he, his housemate Todd, and previous costar Sarah Lynn go on a drug binge and write a book themselves. I love this episode because of how they illustrate BoJack's trip- highlighting his biggest regrets, insecurities and even showing a life he wishes he could've obtained. After this mess, we find him at a panel Diane was speaking at for ghostwriters. BoJack takes the mic and pleads with her, asking if he's doomed to be bad forever. Sincere and humiliating, we see him asking if it's too late for him to be good. He's met with silence.

Woman sitting alone Photo by Alex Green from Pexels

"Fish Out of Water" (Season 3, Episode 4)

Here we see BoJack visiting a movie festival for Secretariat, his most significant break since way back in his prime. Pacific Ocean City is underwater-so BoJack is wearing some weird astronaut helmet thingy the whole time he's there so that he can, you know, breathe. He can't hear/understand a word anyone says, and he doesn't speak either. This is why I love this episode. There's no dialogue besides the first minute or two. Someone he worked with on Secretariat, Kelsey, is at the film festival for her own movie. While shooting Secretariat, BoJack was ultimately the reason Kelsey got fired. BoJack feels guilty about what happened and wants to make amends (or just clear his name). But he can't seem to catch up with her and just keeps having these close calls. He wants to give her a letter he wrote but gets caught up in a school of fish and ends up on a bus, where a male seahorse gives birth, and now BoJack has a baby seahorse to care for. And he does care. He has a tough time handing it back over to its father. When he realizes he's capable of being compassionate, he writes another letter, but due to the whole being underwater thing, the writing gets smudged. Ultimately, what BoJack wants to say never actually gets to Kelsey. In the last 5 seconds of the episode, BoJack realizes there's a button on his helmet that would've allowed him to speak. He never had to write a letter or jump through hoops. All he had to do was press that button. This represents how BoJack all along could have reached out to Kelsey to clear the air and apologize. He had his voice all along. But he never used it. 

blue light banner for work harder Photo by Jordan Whitfield from Unsplash

"Stupid Piece of Sh*t" (Season 4, Episode 6)

In this episode, we hear BoJack's inner monologue. Every self-deprecating intrusive paranoid thought. I love this episode because we can see BoJack making bad decisions, aware of how wrong the decision is, and then still going through with it. It's also a significant episode in terms of his relationship with his mother and Hollyhock. It's also a time where Todd realizes he can have a happy marriage while being asexual. Hearing what BoJack is thinking is interesting and honestly comforting a little. There's, like, no positive utterance from him throughout the entire episode. And some days, that's what it's like. Even when you're trying to be good and fix things, it's easy to get wrapped up in the mean thoughts about yourself. Even the nasty and irrational ones that make you think trying to be good is useless. BoJack isn't a good guy. You don't want to be like BoJack. But hating yourself isn't necessarily an experience unique to him, which this episode allows us to recognize. Hollyhock even mentions how she has a mean little voice in her head at the end of the episode. She asks if it'll ever go away. BoJack lies, obviously, and says yes. And maybe it does go away, perhaps the thoughts get nice… but for him, and for many, that's not the case. But life happens nonetheless in spite of the angry, mean, evil voice. Which is cool, I guess. 

It can look so silly on the surface, but the show incorporates a number of hard hitting issues and introduces a reality that a lot of people can relate to. All of the characters are so complex and interesting and they each have a unique narrative that we can sometimes learn from. Each character has their own redeeming qualities, flaws, and trauma- just like real people. The writing for the show is so strong, the more you watch the better it gets. Strategically, it begins with some light spirits as a comedic animated series about a washed up horse and his friends, but transcends into this somber and thoughtful depiction of the characters' harsh realities. This all ties into the concept of celebrities and the face/life they portray to the media in contrast to the life they may truly have. Each time I revisit the show, I find more reasons to appreciate it. Some honorable mentions include "Free Churro," "Xerox of a Xerox," "The View From Halfway Down," and "That's Too Much, Man!"