Why the Long Face? By Blanka Pillár
What can a talking, anthropomorphized horse say about life, death, loss, addiction, and love?
BoJack Horseman is one of the most beautiful and complex series of all time, and many critics would venture that it is one of the most immaculate TV shows ever made. Every distorted aspect feels even more real when set in a world that simultaneously features a pink manager cat, an overzealous golden retriever, and an angst-ridden Vietnamese-American writer. This is the reality in which BoJack (voiced by Will Arnett), the titular character, a celebrated sitcom star of the '90s who is now struggling with a life of emptiness and a deep-rooted addiction to alcohol and drugs, decides it's time to write his autobiography.
(Via Daily Art)
BoJack is much more than we expect. At once a hero and an arch-villain, narcissistic, self-destructive, and egocentric, he is also endlessly lonely, damaged, and just searching the world for those who will truly see him. Four other protagonists join him in the series: Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) is a perfectionist, an overachieving independent cat, and a true feminist icon, as strange as that statement may sound. She's the one who always cleans up after others, which fixes the irreparable, and is everyone's parent to some extent.
Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie), a bright but highly insecure and talented ghostwriter, is hired to write BoJack's autobiography. Diane holds up a mirror to all the characters and us, the audience, about morality, ethics, and the consequences of our choices. Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul) embodies a kind of youthful lostness and codependency while being one of the show's most endearing and benevolent characters. And finally, Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), the yellow retriever who never learned to grow up and, despite his almost toxic positivity, only longs for sincere love. As is evident, each character embodies genuine human qualities, desires, and feelings, making the series even more human and honest.
There is so much special about this unconventional series; in addition to the astonishing premise, there is a wealth of symbolism, foreshadowing, incredibly developed characters and relationships, unique dramaturgical devices, and tiny hidden details that make the whole series feel like a beautiful, swirling symphony, mixing silky euphonic and scratchy cacophonous elements. From the precisely crafted, perfectly polished dialogue to the often bitter, or somewhat bittersweet, humour to the allegorical level of imagery, many elements make this series incredibly impressive.
Still, these are not the only reasons it made such an impression on me. Instead, BoJack Horseman spoke to me on another level; I felt like the characters were seeing into my soul and talking to me, about me, and for me. In the natural, ever-changing world we live in, all of us are searching for our place, often surrounded by anxiety and uncertainty, and the only thing that can help is to feel seen. As the characters undergo extensive character development and trauma processing, the series gives viewers tools, words, and feelings that we have never been able to have before. It breaks through impenetrable barriers, heals, confronts, and makes us laugh and weep; it is often painfully honest and carnal but also infinitely real and utterly beautiful.
Blanka Pillár (she/her) is a sixteen-year-old writer from Budapest, Hungary. She has a never-ending love for creating and an ever-lasting passion for learning. She has won several national competitions and has been a columnist for her high school’s prestigious newspaper, Eötvös Diák. Today, she is not throwing away her shot.