TV Show Review: “BoJack Horseman”

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Bernard Santos (he/him), Writer

Frame of Mind has created a collection of book and TV show reviews to highlight positive mental health representation in media. Some of the books/shows do contain subject matter that may be difficult or triggering- we’ve done our best to note this in content warnings at the top of each review, but don’t hesitate to reach out with specific concerns. If you have questions about a book or show, feel free to ask the reviewer, and we hope you enjoy the reviews- make sure you check out all 5!

 

CW: Substance abuse/overdose, childhood neglect, sexual/physical assault, suicide, vulgar language/humor (rated M)

BoJack Horseman is a Netflix original animated TV show starring anthropomorphic animals navigating the world of crude, adult humor and celebrity stardom. The show primarily centers around its protagonist Bojack (Horseman), a washed up actor who met the peak of his fame in a cheesy, Full House-esque 90s television show; he’s also a horse. 

The audience tags along for a steady, slow ride of introspective self-reflection amid clever animal puns that really have no business being that funny. There is no eureka moment where BoJack’s problems of childhood neglect and substance abuse whittle away into nothing—much like real life. Underneath the witty writing and interesting characters rests a very respectable depiction of mental health struggles and the strength that it takes to overcome them. The show recognizes how combating mental illness does not completely absolve people from their own self-destructive tendencies, but it does provide a nuanced view into a steady, introspective journey into how one’s environment can enable toxic behavior and how overcoming mental health struggles is not as black and white as one may think. It’s extremely complicated with many, many layers and intricacies, and definitely can’t just be solved by going outside or picking up a new hobby. The road to recovery is less of a 290 and more of a Kelley Square; it’s not really straight and narrow—nobody tells you where to go or what to do, but with enough time, patience and care, you’ll make it out. 

A simple Google search will show you that BoJack Horseman’s portrayal of mental health resonates with countless fans across the world. BoJack does not shy away from the plethora of other totally not controversial topics like abortion, celebrity worship, and gun control, and a super, painfully exaggerated but funny family of stereotypical Bostonites. So exciting! With only the first season under my belt (each episode spanning a good 25 minutes or so, with 12 episodes in total), I wouldn’t exactly say this is necessarily one of those binge-worthy Peaky Blinders-type shows where it’s never really just “one last one”, but it definitely deserves a watch, offering a fresh, albeit upsetting take on the realities of mental health struggles and its impacts on both you and those around you. 

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