BoJack Horseman is a Netflix original program and their first foray into adult animation. Sadly, BoJack arrived with zero fanfare compared to other Netflix shows like House of Cards or Orange Is The New Black. That isn’t an indication of it’s quality however, as it’s an excellent example of a grown-up cartoon.
The problem with adult animation in a post-South Park world is the temptation to make everything “edgy.” Oh look at that! Cartoon characters are doing drugs and swearing, aren’t you shocked? Isn’t it novel? No, it’s not. The novelty of toons behaving badly solely for shock value wore off about 10 years ago. We’ve seen Cartman feed a kid his own parents. We’re over it. Fortunately BoJack Horseman has more than just crudeness going for it.
That’s not to say that there isn’t still plenty of sex, drugs, and swears to be found in BoJack Horseman, because there are. However there is also a lot of character development and pathos. There’s an actual story to the show instead of just a string of one-liners. Not just a story, but a continuing story, as BoJack Horseman is one of the few animated series to have events from one episode carry on to the next.
Will Arnett of Arrested Development fame plays the titular BoJack Horseman, a washed-up former 90’s sitcom star who is also a pathetic, self loathing narcissist. Oh, and he happens to be a horse. In fact, the universe that BoJack Horseman inhabits is full of walking, talking animals living side by side with humans. It’s an odd premise but you get used to it quickly…as long as you don’t mind a bit of inter-species erotica. The show is a scathing satire of Hollywood that, much like Louie C.K.’s sitcom Louie, sometimes eschews jokes in favor of putting the main character in painfully awkward situations. The comedy itself is more conversational and atmospheric, rather than in your face. Think Bob’s Burgers.
Arnett is backed up by a slew of alternative comedy talent such as Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, and Kristen Schaal. Aaron Paul also took a break from filming post-Breaking Bad movies about fast cars to voice BoJack’s house-guest/constant sidekick Todd.
If you’re looking for light, throwaway pop culture gags, a la Family Guy, keep looking. If you like your comedy dark like burnt toast and just as bitter, you need to check out BoJack Horseman on Netflix.