There’s something refreshing about re- watching shows a second, third maybe fourth time 🙊and having a different perspective with each watch. I recently completed Bojack Horseman for the umpteenth time and this run was extra emotional because i had not seen it in a really long time so it hit the right places and a lot of perspective had been developed since the previous watch. The questions it poses on identity crisis, existential crisis, forgiveness, nihilism amongst a plethora of theories are interesting to say the least.
The beauty of this show is that everyone sucks on some level but most characters showed that you can get better if you’re willing to try and also be resolute about wanting said change. With character growth and development, we saw them own up to their very flawed existence at some point and take a step in the direction of change. Even Mr. Peanut Butter who lacks any sense of perspective and is someone who i absolutely dislike showed some semblance of self awareness and accountability towards the end of the show where he identified the common denominator in all his relationship issues being himself and committed to the idea of enjoying his own company for some time.
For Bojack on the other hand, Its a vicious cycle of bad decisions and repeated mistakes, a brief moment of remorse/regret then straight right back to these mistakes. Its almost like he chooses not to learn, chooses not to change and that’s a hard pill to swallow for the people around him like Diane, Caroline, and Todd who through the thick and thin of it all loved him, tolerated his shit behavior and even believed in him being capable of doing better.
Addiction and struggles with mental health that often times lead him to make horrible choices and rely on people knowing him for his intentions and not his actual actions, his inability to form long term relationships with others are also things BoJack excelled at.
I draw a lot of parallels between Bojack and Rick from Rick and Morty. You want to hold on to this hope that everyone is capable of change even when time again they prove not to be capable of this feat.
“How long till holding on to this hope turns you into an enabler?
How long till it becomes an unhealthy and irresponsible relationship?
Bojack tries his best to understand while also deciding that its easier to be ignorant. A flawed, static and unchanging character who i would describe as a Nihilist; he lived his life drifting through each day; treating his life like a series of distractions with no concrete sense of purpose and direction. The root of the melancholy and sadness he had seemed like he felt doomed to be all that he was and failed to see himself as a being capable of wanting and being more. Its hilarious ive just described a talking horse as “being” 🤣😂 but you get my point.
Positive change is hard to maintain until we address the underlying issues causing our unhappiness
The good moments in his life were short lived because of his inability to be content, present and savor these experiences. The anxiety, self loathing and emptiness echoed despite “having it all” and his consistent indulgence in escapism and self sabotaging tendencies was the cherry on top of the layers of flaws. The stench of regrets and “Should have, would have, could have” situations reeked throughout his life and it didn’t help that he had an ego that constantly needed feeding and validation from everyone.
Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, the dizzying effect of looking into the boundlessness of one’s own possibilities. Without anxiety there would be no possibility and therefore no capacity to grow and develop as a human being -Novella by Ted Chiang
A large part of his struggles i would say was caused by generational trauma; the things he experienced and those he wasn’t privy to, like the experiences his mother had growing up which inadvertently in some cases trickled down to him and again we have the terrible self image he had developed about himself; constantly referring to self as garbage, worthless and hearing his own mother remind him he was a mistake and was born broken but in all this; i am of the opinion that its not enough of an excuse for how terrible of a person he turned out to be despite his good intentions sometimes.
All you are is just the things that you do. no such thing as deep down — Diane
Intentions sometimes don’t matter. Your actions are all people see.
Bojack had a quote that went “ It hurts knowing that everyone has a different version of you in their heads. They love you, but they don’t like you or accept you. That is the loneliest feeling in the world” — It is just human nature and our experiences with everyone cannot be captured in a “singular version” The way we interact with each person varies so its only natural to have different versions of ourselves through the peripheral of others. It’s a flawed perspective and one of his major problems in my opinion. Love is conditional because everyone has boundaries. its not really about “deep down” and we saw Caroline, Todd and Diane all choose themselves in the end. They all moved on because how much longer were they going to ignore their boundaries by sticking around while repeatedly getting hurt trying to break his fall?
He tried to change but without addressing the underlying issues or trying to face the consequences of all his mistakes and the people he left hurt. With or without forgiveness, life continues and that was a resounding takeout from this. I enjoy how they didn’t try to tie up loose ends and instead reinforce that happy endings don’t always require closure and it sucks but its life. His final moments with this mom were gut-wrenching to watch. All the love he had to give but she just couldn't receive because of the trauma and maybe even her inability to forgive herself for it even if sometimes you could see the remorse she felt especially in her final moments of clarity and genuine sadness.
“Awareness is half the job” and in the words of Todd; You need to be better.
Overall, its an illuminating show on a search for meaning, search for self, lessons on behavioral patterns, forgiveness, closure, depression, addiction, bitterness, insecurities and a reminder that everyone can be better but people sometimes resign to being stuck in their ways and breaking their fall can leave the people around them hurt and damaged in the process. Its a dark show about the human experience but its comforting in a twisted sense. To a degree, we can see certain aspects of ourselves in BoJack if we look close enough and we can resort to just being aware of these flaws or we can take tangible actionable steps in addressing these issues and being better for ourselves and everyone we love.
Live froward and understand backwards — Soren Kierkegaard