Dec 4, 2017

[TV] BoJack Horseman: Season 4 Review

So I think I hit peak BoJack Horseman fandom by the third season. The show has reached a point where the characters have developed into these fully functional creatures whose actions and motivations dictate the stories more than any writer could, I feel. The best stories are the ones that make sense.

But logic has never been BoJack Horseman's strong point as the show can get pretty crazy at times. Or maybe it's less about our sense of logic and more the logic of this world of "Hollywoo". And as much as their lives mirror our own, the writers know when to take some sharp left turns here and there to really shift things around.

There's a point in this season when it actually feels like there's hope for everyone - something of a rarity in this show. And it was kind of nice to see everyone doing okay and at the very least having something to live for. But at the same time the show won't be the same unless this go terrible for someone, or more likely everyone

Synopsis: BoJack Horseman is an animated black comedy series created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg. As of the time of this review the show has already been confirmed for a fifth season.

The season begins with a lot of weird bits. Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Thompkins) is running for governor. Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) has a boyfriend in the form of the mouse Ralph (Raúl Esparza) and are even considering starting a family together. And there's the possibility that Hollyhock (Aparna Nancherla) may in fact be the biological daughter of BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett) and a better part of the season covers his efforts to determine whether or not this is true.

Diane (Alison Brie) spends time trying to figure out her own path in life as now she's drowning in Mr. Peanutbutter's campaign. And her opinions end up being different from many of his political platforms for his campaign and that causes some complications. On top of all this, we add in some great stuff building on the back stories of the supporting characters within BoJack's quirky family.

What I Liked: Building on the brilliance of the third season, this season explored other ways of telling its stories in creative ways. We have an almost traditional flashback episode in the form of "The Old Sugarman Place" that told us a bit more about BoJack's mother. But then you get weird ones like "Stupid Piece of Sh*t" that allows us to be privy to BoJack's internal monologue, which isn't very kind to BoJack at all given his self-loathing. "Ruthie" blew my mind as it showed a potential future where one of Princess Carolyn's descendants talks about a day in the life of Princess Carolyn for a school project.

But the absolute best episode in this season beating out the ridiculous we're-trapped-underground "Underground" just has to be "Time's Arrow", which is a stark presentation of how the world appears to BoJack's mother Beatrice (Wendie Malick). This episode is told in a series of flashbacks overlaid with scenes from prior episodes in the season. It was a brilliantly creative bit of storytelling that I had really enjoyed and is fully in tune with the show's ability to tell some hard truths yet still give us enough comedy to get by.

What Could Have Been Better: I'm increasingly disappointed with how Diane's character is progressing in this show as her path is just weird and a bit of an afterthought. At times it feels like too much of her on-screen life has been defined by the men she has been involved with, largely BoJack and Mr. Peanutbutter. And I think she deserves a lot better and maybe that'll happen in Season 5.

And as much as I'm super happy that they decided to have Todd (Aaron Paul) come out as asexual but beyond that it hasn't quite been as developed in the rest of the season. To be fair, Todd simply doesn't get a lot screen time especially the way the stories were defined in this season. But still, I would like to see more and thus this minor nitpick is more about wanting to see more of Todd in the show.

TL;DR: BoJack Horseman continues to push the envelope for harsh reality, character-based storytelling and this show is quite a fulfillment of what had come before. There are a lot of creative episodes in this season and some major revelations for various main characters. Thus the season gets a stellar 5 reveals about BoJack's family out of a possible 5.

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