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BoJack Horseman: Season 2 (Review)

It gets easier

by Conner Schwerdtfeger

In keeping with the anthropomorphic nature of the show’s characters, Bojack Horseman seems to have the memory of an elephant. Although not beholden to the narrative of season one, the show addresses almost every aspect of its continuity and builds an immensely deep universe out of it. By doing this, the show has really come into its own; there’s considerably less of a reliance on throwaway gags, and a greater effort to find humor in its characters’ darkest hours. Although presented as a cartoon, Bojack possesses more elements of Louie and Curb Your Enthusiasm, than Family Guy or The Simpsons.

Having somehow achieved his goal at the end of season one – publishing his book, and acquiring his dream role in the Secretariat biopic – season two finds Bojack (Will Arnett) a seemingly changed man (horse). Unlike the first season, this project serves as less of a narrative focal point and more of a backdrop upon which much of the action takes place. Indeed the entire second season of Bojack Horseman feels somewhat less linear than the last, causing can sometimes meander while other develop much more quickly. By the end of the twelve-episode run, many plot threads felt hastily tied up while others never really got the closure we needed. Despite the pacing issues, Bojack Horseman has completely figured itself out, and plays to its strengths without ever relying on them too much – we’re looking at you, Vincent Adultman.

BoJack Horseman
Created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Cast Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie
Release Date 17 July 2015
Conner's Grade: A-

The slow narrative development effectively benefits the character development this season, turning Bojack Horseman into an ensemble piece rather than a singular character study. Almost everyone returns this season, joined by some new characters. The two standout additions are Kelsey Jannings (Maria Bamford) a lesbian, indie filmmaker who has an inexplicable love for Todd’s face, and Wanda Pierce (Lisa Kudrow) a female owl who recently came out of a coma and has no knowledge of the last thirty years. It’s probably a coincidence, but between Wanda and Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix seems to have an obsession with pop culture oblivious characters, and anachronistic humor.

As welcome as the new additions are, this season is all about growing the returning members of the cast. Overall, everyone has become generally deeper, more relatable, and more human – despite not actually being human. Personal vulnerability becomes a major thematic idea of this season, and everyone from Diane (Alison Brie) to Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) struggles with a personal battle this time around. In particular, Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) has changed from a vapid LA caricature to a well-rounded character whose sense of optimism only seems odd when compared to the cynicism around him. However, Todd (Aaron Paul) still feels somewhat underexplored after two seasons; he’s one of the most consistently funny characters, but it's always alluded that he’s smarter than he seems. All of these arcs serve to play off the shows titular character: Bojack. If season one revolved around him wanted people to like him, then season two revolves around him learning to accept and like himself – without spoilers, we will just say it's an interesting ride.

What makes this season of Bojack Horseman so enjoyable is its commitment to biting satire of Hollywood and pop culture. Through some paper-thin stand-ins, the show absolutely tears into current topics ranging from Scientology to Bill Cosby. The show seldom passes moral judgment on the subjects themselves, but rather skewers how society views and reacts to them. By the end of this season, Bojack answers the question of nature versus nurture, making us realize that the Hollywood didn’t make Bojack the way he is!

Overall, Bojack Horseman’s sophomore season showed that the Netflix series has completely figured itself out. By embracing some seriously dark plotlines, the show took a somber and thoughtful, yet ultimately humorous look at the characters we got to know last season. Although somewhere unfocused at times, we have so much fun spending time with these characters and caring about them that we don’t stop to think twice about it.

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