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Illustration by Oscar Bray

BoJack Horseman Season 6: More Layered and Cathartic Than Ever Before

Season 6 is by far the show’s best. It not only perfectly carries forward the ingenious narrative but also retains its razor-sharp wit, while simultaneously dialing up the emotional intensity and nuance.

Oct 26, 2019

"Parents are terrible,” declares BoJack Horseman to a fellow rehab patient. “But destroying things isn't going to change anything. All you can change is you."
The BoJack of Season 6 is no longer self-sabotaging and helplessly self-loathing. He is reflective, self-aware and deeply committed to personal growth. This season is by far the show’s best, if that’s even possible. It not only perfectly carries forward the ingenious narrative but also retains its razor-sharp wit, while simultaneously dialing up the emotional intensity and nuance.
Season 6 follows BoJack at rehab, as he grapples with his traumatic childhood to explore the source of his substance addiction. The show teleports us deep into his complex, damaged psyche. Parallel editing effectively cuts between past events and the present day, such that we experience his pain and catharsis first-hand. We feel for him, as he earnestly apologizes to people he has wronged and tries to make amends.
BoJack keeps getting placed in difficult situations that would have previously made him spiral, but this time he’s determined to stay on track. Just how personally invested we are in his growth is a testament to the show’s empathetic and layered writing. Every time he makes the right decision or comes up with a new insight about himself we are genuinely moved. Through his recovery, the hypnotic visual of the photorealistic starry night sky is a recurring motif, perhaps representing his immense loneliness, haunting past or ambiguous future.
The new season also gives ample screen time to the show’s supporting characters. Through tight editing, the season brilliantly alternates between each of their plot lines, which intersect in the most inventive and entertaining ways. The well-meaning and charismatic Mr. Peanutbutter still flounders with romantic relationships. Princess Carolyn, an overworked and underappreciated single working mother, doesn’t know how to reconcile being a good parent with pandering to the demands of patriarchal corporate culture. Diane battles the corrupt capitalist establishment as an investigative journalist, but only to escape her losing battle with her emotions. And Todd, as usual, saves the day through a comedy of errors, but still struggles to transition into adulthood.
Despite being so painfully real, Season 6 still maintains the show’s trademark absurdist humour. In fact, the shifting tonality between its dark Freudian undertones and light-hearted satirical wit works like a dream, seamlessly interspersing side-splitting laughter with profound contemplation. Much like the previous two seasons, this one, too, is both a delightful binge and a thought-provoking watch that leaves a lasting impact.
Every scene is infused with irony and social satire, mocking so many aspects of today’s times, be it the hypocritical corporate “wokeness” that sensationalizes social issues for material gain, or our incessant need to live through social media, often vicariously through the lives of vloggers and celebrity couples. The larger critique here is of the growing fickle-mindedness and herd mentality brought on by social media. It criticizes people’s mob mentality and tendency to impulsively jump on the bandwagon, without giving issues enough consideration.
When BoJack Horseman released five years ago, many wrote it off as shallow, unoriginal and immature. Some were quick to dismiss it as yet another anti-hero story about a middle-aged white man and his egregious behaviour, only shrouding this problematic premise by making him an animated horse. But over five seasons, it became one of the most ambitious projects on television, presenting a nuanced, sensitive and measured take on Hollywood’s trope of a glorified anti-hero.
Season 5 ended with a knockout: BoJack tells Diane to write an exposé about him, but she refuses to conform to sensationalist cancel culture. Instead, she insists he take accountability for his actions and go to rehab to work on himself.
The new season invites us into the hopeful world of BoJack’s personal growth. But it reminds us not to get carried away with the sense of optimism, leaving no holes barred to remind us of his deplorable actions. The new opening credits montage, for instance, is a masterstroke. A lost BoJack floats through a range of settings, portraying all the people whose lives he’s ruined: Sarah Lynn, Herb Kazzaz, Penny Carson, Gina… the list goes on.
While the BoJacks of the world are no doubt troubled souls and need to be helped, the voices of the lives they’ve ruined must always take precedence. As BoJack tries to breaks his toxic patterns, the consequences of his past actions loom in the background, as this part of the season ends with a cliffhanger.
“Are we doomed to die in the shadow of our own sins?” is a question the show asks us to ponder. But it gives us no easy answers, and only throws us deeper into the abyss of this moral conundrum. Maybe that’s what the photorealistic starry night sky is all about.
Kaashif Hajee is Managing Editor. Email him at
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