What’s Worth Watching: Part Horse, All Heart on BoJack Horseman

BoJack Horseman Season 1
BoJack Horseman (Netflix)

Bojack Horseman, Season 1 (Netflix)

Admittedly, this dark animated series about a washed-up sitcom star (who’s also a horse with a man-like body) premiered five months ago; but unlike fellow Netflix Originals House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black the show and its eponymous horse has-been (voiced by Will Arnett) haven’t gotten nearly the love they deserve.

The only thing Bojack has done in the 18 years since his ’90s sitcom Horsin’ Around was canceled is, a) drink, and b) squander a hefty book advance before actually starting his memoir. So he hires ghost writer Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie), and it’s off to the very weird races. Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris, Patton Oswalt, and a few dozen delightful others join Arnett and Brie along the way. A good way to judge an animated series voiced by a bunch of famous people is by how quickly you forget that famous people are providing the voices. The show and characters must become so enrapturing that they’re able to override the associations our brains make with those voices. With Bojack, that happens about halfway through the first episode, when Bojack finally acknowledges the possibility that he might remain a punchline the rest of his days. (If that’s not the moment for you, Bojack vomiting cotton candy over his deck in the same episode should do the trick.)

It’s difficult for a comedy to highlight the darkness that lives in most of its characters without getting mired in existential despair, but Bojack‘s nimble humor and surprising moments of hope save it from utter bleakness. From the trippy title sequence to the earworm that plays over the end credits (“I’m more horse than a man/Or more man than a horse”), Bojack is well worth the five hours it’ll take to devour Season 1.