Bojack Horseman Season 6: more optimistic, but for how long?
Image Courtesy of Netflix UK
Going into the sixth and now final season of Bojack Horseman, I had questions that I wanted answering: would the characters, who audiences had come to know and love, get a happy ending? Would this final season manage to wrap up all the dangling plot threads left behind from previous years? And perhaps most damning, would the show be able to justify its existence, especially after the cancellation of the excellent Tuca and Bertie earlier this year? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Bojack Horseman, hell, I reviewed the previous season for this website!. But, in an age of shows about awful men ruining the lives of everyone they come across, do we need another one, even if the show is incredibly well written, beautifully animated and able to balance comedy and drama equally well? Luckily, the show can justify its final season with a development that feels like a natural conclusion to the story that fans have been following for almost six years. This season of Bojack Horseman does something that most show like it won’t do; it shows the horrible man becoming accountable for his actions and attempting to change for the better.
The season starts right where the previous one left off; with Bojack (Will Arnett) checking into rehab at the suggestion of Diane (Alison Brie). Almost immediately the gags begin, as Bojack struggles with adjusting to life away from the spotlight, failing at the typical rehab activities such as painting therapy, hiking therapy and sessions with a therapy horse, Doctor Champ (a horse who is also a therapist). Even in the opening episode, we see Bojack beginning to change: after he accidentally gives a young woman the means to escape Pastiches rehab clinic, he goes on a madcap journey to find her and convince her to return, all while avoiding the alcohol that he has sworn off drinking. When he finally returns to rehab with the young woman, he is given the option to instead leave forever with a bottle of vodka, sacrificing all the work he has done and take the easy way out. He instead signs up for another six weeks of rehab, an action that acts as a microcosm for the season as a whole - the characters recognising past mistakes and changing due to that recognition.
Meanwhile, the other characters are all facing challenges in their lives as well. Diane is struggling to define her relationship with her new boyfriend, Guy, while also having to deal with her web-journalism career being stalled. Todd (Aaron Paul), after leaving his position at Whattimeisitnow.com, is yet again drifting with no job in sight. Princess Caroline (Amy Sedaris) is finding it difficult to look after her adopted daughter and run her agency at the same time. And Mr Peanutbutter (Paul F. Thompkins) is slowly suffocating from the guilt of having cheated on his fiancé Pickles. The answers to their issues aren’t easy, requiring each character to make sacrifices and change to find the happiness that they seek. But, in a move that feels cathartic, the show allows them to find this happiness while previous seasons would put these characters through misery after misery. This season is about the characters healing; from their trauma and their past mistakes. Do the characters still mess up, hurting others in the process? It wouldn’t be Bojack Horseman without a heavy dose of tear-inducing drama, alongside clever gags and scathing takedowns of the entertainment industry of course.
The season feels like it is aimed at long-time fans of the show, especially considering how many running gags are paid off in these initial eight episodes (Honeydew! Princess Caroline’s rhyming movie deals! ‘What is this, a crossover episode?’!). But that doesn’t mean that this season doesn’t deliver some amazing new comedic moments as well. From exploring the strike of the newly formed assistants union (who’s only demand is that they don’t get treated like dirt) to taking jabs at Marvel Studios and the unreasonably long wait for a female led superhero movie (“I've been saying for years” one character announces. "As soon as we run out of popular male characters and given them each two sequels, we have to make a movie about Fireflame!"), this season proves that the show still has teeth, and that there is no part of Hollywoo(d) that they won’t satirise. If the show is going down, it’s going down swinging.
Bojack Horseman season 6 feels, rather ironically, like a fresh start for the show, a breath of fresh air for a program that could feel stale at times, each season being billed as “the darkest season yet”. But season 6 rejects that. The characters are growing, changing, and healing, and I came to the end of the season with a sense of fulfilment and happiness… and worry. For there are still eight more episodes of season 6 yet to be released, and, if I know this show, they will spell unhappiness, misery and woe for all the characters, Bojack especially. The ending is on its way, folks. And I doubt it will be a happy one.