After a year’s wait, Netflix watchers have finally been reunited with their favourite alcoholic horse, but anyone hoping that BoJack Horseman season 3 would be a happy one is sure to be disappointed. In honesty, BoJack’s story seems just to be getting more and more depressing, but we just can’t stop watching the misfortunes of Will Arnett’s title character. The dark underbelly of the celebrity culture continues to expose in such a clever way – presented in a world where animals and humans co-exist – and it is this premise and the comic opportunities that arise from it that allow the show to explore uncomfortable subjects in a more accessible way.
We return in season three to the same old sorry story we’ve seen for the past two seasons; BoJack is desperate to find that thing, anything, that will validate his existence. His ground-breaking performance in blockbuster Secretariat has brought him into the running for an Oscar, and the realisation that he feels no better in himself after his, albeit mistaken, Oscar nomination causes him more misery and confusion than he could have imagined. The main plot of the season focuses on his ruthless plight to gain publicity which in turn will boost his chances of an Oscar nomination. With the encouragement of his villainous publicist, Ana, BoJack finds himself double-crossing old friends in ways that will make their relationships irreparable.
Aided by his masochistic need to ruin anything good that comes his way and Ana’s influence, BoJack ends up emptier and lonelier than he ever has. Ana leaves him after discovering his Oscar nomination was a mistake, and leaves him with nobody. He has back-stabbed many of his old friends – Kesley and Ethan in particular – fired Princess Carolyn and turned to old pal Sarah Lynn to drink away his woes. Nine months sober, BoJack encourages Sarah Lynn to return to her old drug habits, and this results in her shock overdose and death in the penultimate episode.
By the end of the season, consumed with his guilt over Sarah Lynn’s death, BoJack has been led to suicidal thoughts, and drives away from Hollywoo with seemingly no intention of returning alive. His intentions are clear as he releases the steering wheel and throws his head back. Just before he gives up altogether, a sight in the distance brings his car to a halt: a herd of running horses.
What does this mean for the future of BoJack? I can’t promise he’ll get better straight away, but I think hope will reveal itself from an unlikely source.
The writing has stuck close to the previous two seasons, with less comedy threaded throughout due to the darker tone of the whole season. By this point, BoJack is firmly established as a dark comedy, so the writers don’t need to try as hard to build the genre and the subtle injections of comedy work well to relieve to dull moments. As previously, the animal based puns dominate the comedy, mixed with the occasional crazy episode (such as the abortion episode; what the hell was that?!?)
The comic capers of business partners Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter continue to entertain, this season they unwittingly become pimps after accidentally transforming their taxi business into a prostitution ring How you ask? Anything is possible with those two; it’s brilliant.
Comedy aside, the dialogue is always on-point when it needs to be, and each season we find ourselves as viewers developing a far deeper understanding of the characters – their ambitions, fears, and excitements. For an animated series, the characterisation is fantastic. A special mention for the silent underwater episode, which proves the writers’ ability to create pieces of pure artistry within this show.
The core cast remains the same as usual, with the only notable additions to the main characters being the Ana publicist (voiced by Angela Bassett) and Mr. Cuddlywhiskers (Jeffery Wright). Similarly to previous seasons, there are plenty of guest voices thrown in there such as Jessica Biel, Dave Franco, Weird Al Yankovic, Wiz Khalifa and a whole bunch more!
Overall, BoJack Horseman season 3 has lived up to its high expectations and sets up a lot of open questions for the next season. Another massively successful season for writer Raphael Bob-Waksberg, it’s pure brilliance comes from the ability to make these anamorphic cartoon characters more human and real to us than we could ever imagine, and I can’t wait to delve deeper into their lives.