Next on Netflix’s road to world domination is the world of adult animation. With a stellar voice cast including the considerable talents of Will Arnett, Aaron Paul and Alison Brie, Netflix’s latest offering of original programming, BoJack Horseman, is anything but your average Saturday morning cartoon.
BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett), is the washed-up star of a hit nineties sitcom, whose days are now filled by excessive drinking, extreme bouts of narcissism and attempts to arrest his terminal decline as a has-been celebrity. As his name suggests, BoJack is in fact a literal horse-man, and one of many anthropomorphic animals that co-exist with humans in this alternative Hollywood.
The show draws its humour from taking jaded swipes at celebrity culture and the media that surrounds them, but it’s nothing that hasn’t been done better in more intelligent shows such as 30 Rock and Curb Your Enthusiasm. In fact, the tired cynicism that pervades the show can be exhausting, and it’s quickly becoming an overused tone for shows in this already bloated genre. The show’s best moments of humour can in fact be found in the minutiae of how a world populated by humanoid animals works. It’s a world where Penguin Books is run by nerdy penguins, a horse can create a betting scandal by betting on themselves and your bovine waitress won’t be pleased with you if you order the sirloin steak.
What could end up setting BoJack apart from its peers is the reward of a slow-burning, personal story hidden beneath the cynicism. In most sitcoms, actions don’t have consequences beyond an episode’s lifespan, but in this series BoJack’s self-destructiveness will eventually catch up with him. BoJack is forced to confront his misdeeds and grow as a character. In the words of the show itself “it’s not Ibsen, but for a lot of people life is one long, hard kick in the urethra”, and sometimes it’s nice to forget that.
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