Ever since its release in 2014, Bojack Horseman has gained many critical acclamations and a number of loyal viewers who enjoyed the concoction of comedy and animation. It is a sitcom that explores the darker picture of a human condition. The Netflix series pursue the experiences of Bojack, a famous television star of the ’90s, best known for his role in a sit-com ‘Horsin around’, a show about a bachelor raising some orphaned kids. The show is set up in ‘Hollywoo’ where animals, as well as humans, live together (a satire for Hollywood culture).
Raphael Bob Waksberg created this series by keeping an anti-hero frame in mind, someone who is struggling to figure out his life in his 50s. The series might feel goofy in the beginning but later on, the viewers understand the complexity of Bojack and how effortlessly it depicts, every choice that we make is the result of our quotient of happiness and well being of others.
Just like Simpsons, Bojack used the cartoon to imagine a brimming alternate but a surreal universe. For instance, Bojack is a horse, his agent is a cat and his biographer Diane (a ghostwriter) is a human. Waksberg focused on the occurrence of acute existential anxiety of what it is meant to be a person and any other creature that we witness in the colourful kaleidoscopic world of Bojack. The show also explores the darker and deeper discussions about sexuality, race, feminism, and many more.
Despite being a celebrity, Bojack is undermined with a sense of anxiety and self-destructive tendencies. Online fan forums like Amine Superhero clearly indicates how much the show means for people who suffer from mental illness to have such a refined and crisp depiction in the show. Specifically, the episode “Stupid Piece of Sh*t” can be considered as an extremely exact representation of the experience of self-disgust and constantly undermining oneself. It helped to provide a platform to people who are struggling with such issues and undeniably stimulated others in this regard. Dialogues such as – “Nothing in the inside, nothing on the outside,” represents his stone bound emotions, he is so broken and disturbed that he doesn’t feel anything now.
The show is not only about sympathizing with emotionally damaged people. It’s also about bravely support them both personally and to the larger public. There is no attempt to sanitize the characters, and the show constantly situates them in the real world where they have to negotiate workplace and personal relationships. The show’s willingness to grill its characters through dialogue and plot twists is praiseworthy. Indeed, the characters are extremely flawed, but that is what makes the series different from others.
Mental illness is extremely layered, and every person has their own version of depression that he/she goes through. The same level of mental illness cannot be standardised here, and to learn from surface-level awareness efforts is often detrimental. Having a mental illness doesn’t mean that you can blame anyone for your own action, and these characters of the series understand that. They address each other toxic and unacceptable behaviour, but on the other hand, they also support each other and make sure that they get the necessary help. In an episode, even after their worst fight, Diane helped him realize his problem of excessive drug consumption and helped him check into rehab. Their friendship is just an example of the mature relationships on the show.
The series depicts represent struggles as something that people have to survive with for a major part of their lives, which is a welcome change from most other portrayals. It is not only Bojack, but also the entire horizon of characters that struggle with mental illness and its complication. In spite of all this, there is an essence of hope. It isn’t a fairy-tale, but a way deeper, and more realistic to understand that things will get better eventually.
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