“Bojack Horseman,” a Netflix original series, returns darker and more outlandish than ever in its fifth season.
The show about the human-like horse who came to fame on a ‘90s sitcom and digs deeper into the titular character’s past, further exploring his struggle to find happiness while simultaneously offering some of the most ridiculous humor on television.
The season uses the filming of Bojack’s new detective show, “Philbert,” as the catalyst to further explore the problems both he and his friends face—whether it be divorce or addiction—and does so in a biting manner that takes viewers on a continuous emotional roller coaster.
The show offers its most daring (and possibly best) episode yet midway through the season when Bojack has to give his mother’s eulogy. After opening with a flashback of a rant from Bojack’s father, the remaining 22 minutes are spent with the camera only on Bojack and the casket as he rambles until the point the eulogy begins to sound more like one long, drunken digression than a speech.
Perfectly encapsulating the strength and versatility of the show, Bojack makes poorly-received, off-handed side remarks directly to the casket and awkwardly changes direction only to make another a few minutes later. In between these ill-regarded comments are stories about the emotional neglect he suffered as a child from his parents. While this offers viewers more insight into why Bojack longs for companionship but rejects intimacy, he doesn’t realize these are stories fit for a therapist, not those in mourning.
To top the entire scenario off, he realizes after it’s too late he has been in the wrong room of the funeral parlor giving a eulogy for a stranger, making his speech not about honoring his mother, but instead an outlet for him to wrestle with childhood trauma and face his newfound grief. It’s every bit as painful as it is hilarious.
A show about an alcoholic bipedal horse shouldn’t have cathartic revelations about depression, loss and loneliness, but it does. And it delivers these moments better than almost any drama on television. “Bojack Horseman” uses low-brow humor and animal puns to disarm the audience before delivering unexpected gut punches that make viewers question their own purpose and motivation.
The show doesn’t shy away from current events either. Bojack is often used as a tool for social commentary as he’s filleted in the public eye to further prove his arrogance and obsession with being universally loved. One standout episode has Bojack become an outspoken male feminist so he can gain approval from the public, allowing the show an avenue to criticize the ludicrousness of allowing serial abusers to remain in the celebrity spotlight.
Various episodes are told from different perspectives, which leads to experimental narrative styles that develop the characters in a new light. However, the emphasis on development hinders how big of a payoff the season has, but the evolution the characters go through makes the lack of resolution partially inconsequential.
The show requires its audience to subconsciously accept that there is a general absurdity in life, and that pain comes with humor. It’s found new layers for nearly all of its characters and has given viewers a reason to watch it yet again. “Bojack Horseman” remains one of the best shows available to stream.