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Photo Credit: Netflix

A couple of months back, I saw a meme entitled “Best Adult Cartoons.” All of the expected shows were on it, like Family Guy, The Simpsons and American Dad. Then, I saw BoJack Horseman on the list. I had noticed the show on Netflix, so I decided to give it a try.

My first reaction was “definitely overrated.” It was neither as amusing nor as reckless as shows of similar genres, but I kept watching it. I witnessed the characters developing over time. The jokes did get funnier to some extent, but then things got quite dark. Whenever I think of the reason for this, I look to the main character as the one who is responsible. Here’s an introduction to the beloved character of BoJack Horseman.

Having received no love from his parents, Bojack could only live the life he dreamed of by portraying the loving parent to a very close and fulfilling family in the hit TV show, Horsin’ Around. Once the show was taken off the air, the false sense of fulfilment BoJack had was gone no matter how much he tried to continue hiding behind the character and watching and rewatching his show years later. There is a hole within him, likely as a result of a lack of feeling loved, and he tries to fill this hole with alcohol, drugs and sex.

The effects of his issues are seen through his personal relationships with his few friends, all of whom receive nothing but problems by being around our dear horse. Is BoJack a bad person? I don’t have a solid answer for this.

Though you see him want to become better, whatever he does leads to catastrophe for him and all who are around him. It’s not a matter of “oh, he screwed up here, but in the next episode he will get on the right track and get his shit together.” That is never the case. He will not get better. No matter what happens, it always ends up with BoJack screwing up, drinking, thinking about what a disappointment he is and then doing more things that get him into worse situations.

So, why would you watch four seasons of a show that you started to be amused by, but it ended up being cancerous? It’s one of those shows that, when your friend sees you watching it, you instantly go, “I know it’s no fun or good, but I watch it anyways because there is something that makes me keep watching.”

It is only recently that I began to realize that the “something” is the relatability of the show. I came up with three hypotheses trying to explain why.

“Hope” may be the first thing that’s keeping us from quitting the show. No matter how bad everything goes, we still keep our hopes up, waiting for BoJack to somehow fix his problems. As a matter of fact, it seemed to me that the worse things became, the more impatient we are to see BoJack’s better days. Some may ask why we would even care about him being good in the first place. Well, in seeing someone way more messed up than ourselves getting onto the right track, we may feel, “If BoJack can succeed at getting things back in order, what can I not do?” This may give us motivation and help us deal with our issues.

Or maybe we are not the little angels we think we are. Perhaps, though it may seem dark, our subconscious would simply like to see someone doing worse than us to comfort us. Seeing him fall down every single time is what makes us keep watching the show. Personally, I haven’t felt comfort of any kind watching BoJack so far, but I am not going to ignore the possibility of the evil within me affecting my appetite in TV shows.

Finally, as a counter-argument for the unflattering reflection of human nature shown above—and what seems more appealing to me—is that we just want to see that we are not alone. We don’t often get the chance to be reminded that life is not much of an Alice in Wonderland phenomenon. When we witness only the perfect moments of the people around us, we begin to think that’s what life is supposed to be and strive for constant perfection. What is forgotten is that we are all faulty by-products as a result of faulty processes. Perhaps it is seeing fucked up characters like BoJack that reminds us we are not alone and makes us admit and appreciate the kinds of individuals we are so we can say, “That’s the way it is; that’s the way I am.”

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