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Bojack Horseman: A Television Masterpiece

Updated: May 31, 2023

By Tara Kurup

Image via Deviant Art

“It gets easier. Every day, it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day – that’s the hard part. But it does get easier.” This is a quote from the Netflix animated TV show Bojack Horseman.

Bojack Horseman is about an LA-based actor who had come off a show called “Horsin’ Around” ten years ago. Since then, he has gained immense popularity. His popularity and celebrity status led to his severe alcoholism problem, which has major impacts on him throughout the show. Bojack makes a series of awful decisions and often hurts relationships with others that he cared about. The show makes viewers want to sympathize with him due to the terrible trauma he suffered throughout his childhood, but at the same time, his actions are just not justifiable. It seems like he will never learn what harm he has done and it feels like he will never change. Despite the show being an animation, it covers heavy themes that most people can relate to, and uncovers the true reality of the human condition instead of romanticizing or justifying it as most shows do. The show is a true work of art, being able to make viewers laugh but not by poking fun at the serious topics it covers. Although most people would think an animation isn’t able to be sincere and genuine to heavy topics, this show captures them perfectly.

One of the biggest ideas and main points of Bojack Horseman is how mental health affects everyone, even if you’re a celebrity like Bojack. The show doesn’t hide the reality of mental health and it has never romanticized any of the truth. Intergenerational trauma, depression, and anxiety are all topics that are explored in the show. An example of how we see intergenerational trauma in the show is the trauma Bojack and his mother experienced throughout their lives. As a child, Bojack was not well cared for. His mother and father would constantly belittle him, essentially wanting to get rid of him. He was emotionally abused, his parents were stuck in an awful relationship, and most importantly, his mother’s trauma affected their relationship and her marriage. Although it is not explicitly said in the show, this later led to Bojack’s alcoholism and misuse of drugs which would later cost him relationships with others. Growing up, Bojack’s mother, Beatrice, saw her brother die in war and her mother lobotomized by her father. She was forced to fit in these boxes her father forced on her in order to bring wealth to the family. This trauma passed onto Bojack which ended up hurting multiple people not related to the family. Intergenerational trauma and mental health in general is not a concept you see talked about in the media. However this show successfully delivered the right message when it came to this topic, and brought us one step closer to making this matter more widespread in the media.

One of Bojack’s multiple issues that we see in the show is his addiction. His alcoholism and drug abuse are two of the main things that lead him to lose some of the closest people in his life. We often see Bojack resort back to drugs after something negatively affects him. This is his way to cope, and has been his way to cope since he began acting. He made rash decisions and regrettable mistakes that he could never take back when he was under the influence. For instance, when Bojack was shooting a scene for his new TV show with his co-star, Gina, he attempted to strangle her on set while he was under the influence of opioids after she tried to take them away from him. Forever leaving a mental scar on Gina, the trauma of the situation took a toll on her in later acting jobs. Even though he would always try to twist the stories into saying he was the one who suffered the most through all of these situations when he was under the influence, he and his friends know it’s Bojack who’s doing this to himself, and he needs help. This later results in Bojack going to rehab, which does end up working out for him as he stays sober for a while. But, as said before, the show always shows the reality of situations. Even though it seems like he is getting his life back together, the past always comes back to haunt him. A lot of other TV shows struggle to portray the dangers of addiction accurately, but Bojack Horseman hits all the correct spots.

My favorite part of the show is how it shows people that they aren’t alone. It shows that even celebrities can go through the same struggle we do. There’s always a way for us to become better people. In the beginning, Bojack thought of himself as a perfect actor. He was conceited, snarky, and emotionally abusive to many people. Meeting people like Diane, Todd, and even Wanda made him realize that he needed help. All of them cutting ties with Bojack helped him figure out that him changing was the only way he could keep going. The show taught me what I could improve on when it came to relationships, and what I could do to better myself. I encourage you to watch this show because it truly is one of the best depictions of the human condition in the media, despite it being an animation with anthropomorphic animals. It’s witty, it’s sad, it’s a little scary, but most importantly, it’s real.

Written by writer Tara Kurup

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