Aug 6, 2018

Bojack Horseman: Anthropomorphic Angst and Queer Characters

In a world where humans and anthropomorphic animals interact, Bojack Horseman (voiced by Will Arnett)  is a washed-up celebrity, the star of a 1980s TGIF sitcom, Horsin' Around, which people still remember fondly.  But he hasn't worked in years.  Finally he lands the role of a lifetime, playing the famous racehorse Secretariat, but it turns out to be a disaster.

Bojack's private life is a disaster, also.  He tries various romances, first with his assistant Diane (Alison Brie), then with Wanda, an owl who has just awoken from a 30-year long coma, and finally with his agent, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), but none of them work.

He has no friends except his cheerful housemate/couch potato, Todd (Aaron Paul) and the dog actor Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), another star of a TGIF sitcom who has managed to continue working by cheerfully taking any role, however demeaning.

Eventually Mr. Peanutbutter (that's his first name) marries Diane, an angst-ridden relationship that each tries hard to pretend is making them happy, and we learn about the abusive parents who pushed Bojack into self-destructive behavior.

Bojack: Are you punishing me for smoking, Mother?
Mother: No, I'm punishing you for existing.

The anthropomorphic animals make for some clever bits.  Russell Crowe's last name is crow, but he's actually a raven.

 There are sometimes humorous subplots.  I sort of like "Vincent Adultman," who Princess Carolyn dates.  No one but Bojack realizes that he's actually three young boys in an overcoat, in spite of statements like "I went to the Stock Market today and did a business."

 But overall the stories are sad, about broken, incomplete people struggling with their inner demons.

But there is considerable gay content.

Bojack took Todd in because his parents disapproved of his "lifestyle" and kicked him out of the house.  He thought he was helping a gay teen, but it turns out that the "lifestyle" Todd's parents disapproved of was laziness.

Bojack and Todd crash a lesbian wedding.

Bojack kisses Diane, Mr. Peanutbutter's wife, so the only way to restore their friendship is to have him kiss Mr. Peanutbutter, too.

When Bojack was on Horsin' Around, his close friend and producer, Herb Kazzazz,was fired after rumors emerged of a same-sex relationship.  Bojack refused to defend his friend, and as a result Herb doesn't speak to him again for 20 years, until he is dying of cancer.

Bojack's long-lost daughter has been adopted by a polyamorous group of eight men, of varying personalities and species.

Todd  eventually comes out as asexual and joins an Ace support group.  He's probably the only openly asexual character on tv.

All four seasons are on Netflix. I recommend skipping the first few episodes, produced before the show found its way, and starting with Episode 8, "The Telescope."


  1. Ok, I figured it out. Counting pairs and three-ways each man in Hollyhock's family has 27 configurations to choose from, or a different one for almost every night of the week. But I'm guessing that there are four main pairs who occasionally invite a third, so each pair only has six guys to choose from.

    1. Fair enough, though there are really 128 possibilities, though I doubt they go above three or four at a time that often.


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