Quarantine Binges: Bojack Horseman (2014)

Quinn Arrington, The Scroll, A&E Editor

Warning: This article covers topics that may be triggering to some, including but not limited to: drugs and drug/alcohol abuse, emotional abuse, mental illness, suicide mentions. Reader discretion is advised.

The animated Netflix Original BoJack Horseman has gained much traction over quarantine, becoming extremely popular with teens and young adults. Fair warning, in case students reading have yet to finish or have not seen it yet, spoiler warning! The show revolves around a middle-aged horse, BoJack, who was a famous actor in the hit show Horsing Around from the 90’s. Episode 1 begins with BoJack in an interview 18 years after the ending of his show’s production. 

BoJack realizes he’s losing his relevance and popularity, setting the stage for his identity crisis. Who is he? What’s next? The show revolves around him and his internal issues, along with the struggles of other characters, some of which could be relatable to teens. Many different types of struggles are represented throughout the show, and it could be interpreted in several ways. 

Students at Saugus share their opinions and give insight into their explanation and analysis of the show. 

Students share what part of the show struck a chord within them.

BoJack Horseman is full of deep, real issues that can be seen in everyday life. It includes mental illness, addiction, midlife/identity/existential crises, grief, neglect, you name it. It shows the realness of how your environment can impact your behavioral and cognitive functions as you get older and grow. A Centurion shares, “I think the part that struck a chord [with] me the most was when BoJack [had] his suicide attempt in his car.” He continues, “It makes me very depressed knowing that he thought ending it all was a better alternative to [facing] the consequences [of his actions].”

Which characters could you relate to?

Every character within the show can be interpreted to represent a different struggle. The individuals and side characters all have their own story, showing that there’s more to people’s lives than what you’ve personally seen in conversation with them. This allows an inside view of their private lives. 

Natalie Meza, a junior at Saugus, responds, “I think it’s fair to say that most people relate most with BoJack, even though he does have a lot more demons than we’d expect some to have, even ourselves.” Furthermore, she says, “BoJack messed up so much through the series, as we all do throughout our lives, and there’s nothing we can do about our past failures and the future ones that come along with the human condition. Then again, he tried his best to right his wrongs, and sometimes all you can do is take accountability.”

What messages did you get out of BoJack Horseman?

BoJack Horseman shares many messages and life lessons that everyone can learn from and apply to their life. From being more understanding of someone else’s struggles to having an entirely new perspective of life, students express the important messages and lessons they learned from watching BoJack Horseman. 

Natalie follows up on this: “I think a big lesson I took away from BoJack Horseman was that life will never guarantee stability, but nor will death. Life is insanely scary, so much to the point where you debate ending it. No one can promise you [the] next happy or sad moment in your life, but life can promise a next lesson and another day. Afterlife is inevitable, but life happens once as far as we know, and we must pursue it.”

Sam Stutts, a freshman, also comments: “A message I realized was you can’t run away from all your problems, cause they’ll just be waiting for you to come back.” This references BoJack’s constant avoidance of the consequences of his actions and how he struggles to own up to his own mistakes. When he finally accepts the fact he’s done many horrible things, it all slaps him in the face at once.

What type of audience would you recommend the show to and why?

It’s a different feeling to watch something that feels like it was tailored to a specific audience. It can be as simple as enjoying it more, or more complex, such as feeling as though you’re in the show and experiencing what the characters are experiencing. Films often have a target audience, which can be seen through the ratings (PG, PG13, R), those who have seen the Netflix Original series understand a little more who might benefit from watching. All the students interviewed had a similar response: older teens to the young twenties demographic.

The show covers topics that are most certainly for a mature audience, but still young enough to get a good laugh at some of the immature jokes the show pokes at. It also helps to understand character’s emotions more at your more emotional stages in life, such as your teenage years and entering adulthood, where your hormones are all out of whack. 

BoJack Horseman is a fun watch, including secrets hidden in the background, foreshadowing in the intro’s visuals, and symbolism that might not be understood during a first run-through. You can find hour-long videos on Youtube explaining just a single episode, which says a lot about how full this show is of symbolism and hidden meanings. It shows struggles and societal issues many might not realize happen all the time. 

It puts the viewer into the eyes and mind of a seemingly “narcissistic jerk” — as BoJack is referred to by several people — who craves attention and validation from people, along with indulging in his personal addictions, both behavioral and substance-related because nobody tells him “no. There’s something for everyone in BoJack Horseman

BoJack Horseman could be considered a good show to watch for a plethora of reasons: it makes for good background noise while doing homework, it’s funny, it’s sad, it makes the watchers think and reevaluate their perspective on certain subjects. In other words, this show is worth a shot.