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“I’m more horse than man”
It’s the third season of the Netflix original dark comedy BoJack Horseman, and I am still lured by the seedy Hollywood glitz, depicted in a (literal) animal kingdom. It’s the Mr. Peanutbutter silliness weaving through scenes that bring me back again to Netflix, to watch this show after a long day’s work at night.
Yes, I’m watching BoJack, the self destructive, emotionally closed horse after long days at work, when all I want to do is unwind. Sure, I could watch some bubblegum, lighthearted sitcom, like anything showing on Fox or NBC, but I choose BoJack Horseman. I choose gritty, messy emotional comedy. I love the momentary nonsensical scenes between Todd, BoJack, Princess Caroline, and so on; but more than anything, I like to feel the backhand of their loneliness, anxiety, and longing hidden beneath each character. Not only am I chuckling at BoJack’ self-importance, but I’m really feeling the shakes from those emotionally turbulent and genuine peeks of his insecurities.
“Fish out of Water” brilliantly depicted that schism between wanting to reveal the real human feelings underneath it all yet, unable to communicate to another, barricading oneself further back into loneliness. So, there’s the desire and the inability. BoJack desperately shows his miserableness and unwillingness to cope with this (self) imposed high profile media event. Then, he notices Kelsey, the director he basically sold out in order to get his career off the ground with Secretariat. Immediately, the uncomfortable guilt builds to the top, pushing BoJack to reach out to her and apologize. However, we notice that BoJack cannot physically communicate with the other fish and humans underwater; instead, we hear a muted water gargle. He opts for writing it down, but with minimal success as he keeps writing down piss-poor apologies, until he eventually writes something sincere and touching at the end:
“KELSEY, IN THIS
ALL WE HAVE ARE
He finally gets her attention and of course she’s angry. He hands her the note, only to see it is all black smudges, like black tears running down the paper.
Desolate at his failed attempts he boards a bus, and manages to help a male seahorse deliver his babies, but one was left. This single seahorse baby attaches himself to BoJack, and although BoJack only wants to be left alone, he soon finds himself caring and worrying about this baby. BoJack goes through trials to keep this baby safe and deliver him back home. When he does, Bojack finds himself alone and disconnected. There is no one else left to care about or who cares about him. Still throughout this long journey, he cannot communicate with any single fish. Then, an amazingly absurd thing happens. A human determinedly striding down the street, pushes the button on his oxygen helmet and curses him off the way. BoJack clearly hears him, and another look of “I’m over this” plasters across his face.
Just a few minutes ago, I felt connection forming with this character in his inability to connect with anyone, letting go of someone who was never his, and trying to make things right. After watching the last scene, a grin spread across my face and I could not stop laughing! Many of the obstacles of this episode were simply based on not being able to talk, but the implication added to the weight of BoJack’s misery. Pushing a button makes sense; however, it never occur to BoJack to look for the answer beyond his circumstances, and look more inward – literally speaking, the button was just below his nose!
The silence of the episode successfully made the audience come face to face with the poignant and complicated emotions that are not always describable or visible. BoJack’s side misadventure, about a goofy looking horse slowly forming a bond with another wide-eyed happy animal and the simplicity of the drawing, paired with the lack of noise, teasingly and brazenly disarms you of any cynicism. It felt raw, honest and somewhat innocuous. If felt good and easy. Despite the dark or complicated issues embedded within these black outlined animals, lies a refreshing honesty that makes it right to watch BoJack Horseman after a long hard day.