Back when I was writing for Nerdophiles, I reviewed BoJack Horseman season 1 when no one else really seemed interested in it. In my review, I admitted that it was rough to start, but it finished beautifully and that maybe BoJack’s journey of redemption would find success in season 2.
I’m eternally optimistic, can you tell?Season 2 of BoJack Horseman doesn’t have the stumbling blocks that season one had, but it does have a significant amount more of character study. It’s still funny and witty with visual jokes that’ll make you rewind, a joke about Crossfit that made laugh way too hard, and the entire plotline of Todd and the phones being highlights for me.
However, the zany parts seem to be just that. In a season where the five main characters of the show have to struggle with finding the Next Right Thing and the depression that ensues because of it, it becomes something intimately relatable, even in a show with anthropomorphic animals living with humans in Hollywoo.
The darkest plot line for sure belongs to our titular character as he realizes his dream role isn’t everything he hoped it would be and every attempt to chase happiness dissolves in his hands. He even tries to start a new relationship with an owl named Wanda (Lisa Kudrow), but that blows up in his face too. If you thought ‘Downer Ending’ was a rough penultimate episode from last season in terms of emotion, ‘Escape From L.A.’ will pretty much eat your soul as BoJack comes to terms with everything that’s wrong about him and returns to L.A. worse than he left. I have to give Will Arnett props for his performance of BoJack over the course of this season. I had always liked Arnett for his smarmy characters, but he brings out the sadness of BoJack’s life in a very beautiful way over the course of the season as BoJack seems to be circling the drain.For me though, where the season got Too Real was with Diane, Princess Carolyn, and Todd. Diane and Princess Carolyn are two different characters and their journeys are very different, but it boils down to the same central core: they are career driven women that feel like they don’t know what the next step is.
For Diane, she thinks that she’s going to find it going overseas to Cordovia to help with the war effort, which she ends up having to push up a month after she’s basically blackballed for standing up to Hank Hippopopalous after she brings up abuse allegations against him in ‘Hank After Dark.’ That episode tackles the culture of victim blaming and coverups in Hollywood in a way that feels especially relevant as the number of accusers that have come forward against Bill Cosby are now somewhere around 45 and that’s apparently just the tip of the iceberg.
However, with Diane basically being driven out of the country because of scandal, then coming back because the situation in Cordovia with Sebastian St. Clair is too much for her to handle and nothing like she expected, she finds herself floundering as she tries to figure out what to do next. Well, “figure out” might be too generous. Diane just sort of gives up for a few months. That kind of depression of flopping around the house and being gross and sad is often not portrayed on women in media. I was there when I was unemployed after graduating college, though not to the level Diane gets. The team of BoJack Horseman writes it well and Alison Brie delivers it even better.Princess Carolyn’s story plays out very differently, but it does sort of merge when Carolyn hires Diane to be a social media writer at the end of the season because she admits that she needs to fix other people’s problems when her own life is falling apart. For Carolyn, it’s because she feels like she’s not making upward movement in her job or her love life no matter how hard she tries and she’s not really getting any younger. It’s a more subtle kind of depression in terms of portrayal, but once again, it comes across in spades as Carolyn reaches her own epiphany about it in the end.
Even with two major female character having their own struggles, the most intimately relatable story for the season was Todd’s. I think it was said best in the episode ‘Chickens’:
Todd: You know, sometimes I feel like my whole life is a series of loosely related wacky misadventures.
Diane: Well, I think that’s just what being in your 20s is.
And that just speaks leagues to Todd’s character arc and to me, someone who’s in her mid-20s trying to figure life out when it just seems to get weirder or sadder. Not only is he trying to find purpose in life, but also a place where he feels like he belongs. It also probably speaks to being in your 20s that trying to find that often brings you to toxic communities, though probably not always on the level of the improv cult Todd accidentally joins.By the end of the season, you’re not really hoping for redemption for these characters. You just want them to find some sort of happiness. It looks like it could be possible for all of them as Carolyn starts her new firm, Diane reconciles with her husband Mr. Peanutbutter (who is still the best), and BoJack takes Todd back in and tries to start running again. However, like the jogging baboon tells BoJack, you have to work at it every day, but it does get easier. Let’s just hope season 3 has some progress for them. Or at least more of Mr. Peanutbutter’s game show to balance it out.