I knew nothing about BoJack Horseman before I saw it on the Netflix home screen. I’m a fan of Will Arnett (Arrested Development, Blades of Glory) and I’ve been a fan of most Netflix exclusives lately, so I thought I’d give it a try.
12 episodes later, I thought I’d give my thoughts for those of you that might be curious.
The gist. In this reality of Los Angeles, animals are talking and human-like members of society. Arnett stars as BoJack Horseman, a horse who starred in a sitcom 20 years ago called Horsin Around, where a horse raises three children. We cut to current day, where BoJack is a washed up has-been alcoholic, whose roommate Todd (Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul) is a freeloading loser. Penguin Publishing, ran by a penguin (Patton Oswalt), wants to publish his memoirs but BoJack isn’t motivated enough to write it himself, so Penguin hires a ghostwriter to come in and help. Enter Diane Nguyen (Community‘s Allison Brie), a witty writer who seeks to find the humanity in the jaded and edgy BoJack.
Arnett clearly carries this series, as his sharp timing often results in hilarity. If you’ve tried Arnett’s work before and not been a fan, you likely won’t change your mind here. The humor is very focused on current pop culture and relies of shock value, sometimes too much so. Diane (Brie) and Todd (Paul) both play the straight characters to BoJack’s ridiculousness and they both do a suitable job.
There’s a lot of animation options these days for adults. If I could compare this to anything, I’d compare most closely to Archer. Dry and sharp wit, overly sexualized, and shock value. It does venture into deeper territory in the later episodes, as BoJack struggles with the bad decisions he’s made in the last 20 years.
What doesn’t work?
The problem I had with this show is balance. It’s funny but it’s not that funny. I’d recommend Bob’s Burgers if you wanted the most amount of laughs per minute, but if you wanted deeper and reflective storytelling, I’d recommend something like Futurama. In an episode of BoJack Horseman, I maybe laughed twice or three times per episode. I appreciated the episodes, sure, but it’s not likely a show I’ll rewatch. If I wanted that sharp Arnett humor, I’d rewatch Arrested Development.
12 episodes are streaming on Netflix now, which would only take you an afternoon of solid binging to get through. You might like it, but there are definitely better animated comedies out there right now. This set up a solid foundation and now that they’ve found their voice, a second season might manage to keep the depth but add some laughs. If you don’t like the first episode, you likely won’t like the rest.