‘BoJack Horseman’ season six kept dancing until the curtain fell


Netflix/Star Tribune/TNS

“BoJack Horseman”

Darius Melton, Opinion Editor

The question of how BoJack Horseman’s story would end—this meaning both the show and its title character—has been on the minds of many fans since the end of the first season. At first glance, the show looks like your typical adult comedy, only this time starring anthropomorphic animal. Over time, however, the show has won its audience over because of its gritty yet realistic portrayal of Hollywood (or “Hollywoo”) and mental illness.

BoJack is a complex character, as he is at one time a caricature of the troubled men that grace our film and television screens (think Robert Downey Jr. prior to “Iron Man”) as well as a sufferer of such mental illnesses. BoJack has depression, which led to alcoholism, and though we as the audience root for him to get better, he spent five seasons (and numerous years before the show’s story begins) burning just about every bridge he has.

The audience wants BoJack to win—but does he deserve to? Would that be realistic? What do you do as the creator of this show?

Raphael Bob-Waksberg and team had a monumental task on their desks in having to tie a bow around the series with its recent finale, and without spoiling a thing, I can safely say that they absolutely knocked this ending out of the park.

When the first half “BoJack Horseman” season 6 aired in October, we got in episode 7, “The Face of Depression,” what many people would have like the end of BoJack’s story to be: a sober Horseman who quits dying his hair and starts teaching at Wesleyan, ready to pass on his acting knowledge to a new generation while also spending time with his sister.

He gets it all: an end to the alcoholism arc, an outlet for acting that kept him out of the spotlight and a positive connection to family. If you want to see BoJack happy and leave his past behind, stop there; episode 8 quickly drills holes in this sturdy foundation he has built.

Everyone that BoJack has wronged in a big way (sans Gina and the illustrious Neal McBeal the Navy Seal) is waiting in the wings with wrongs that still need to be righted by BoJack, and the number has reached so high that you start to lose count. There is even a point in episode 11, “Sunk Cost and All That,” where BoJack tries to write down every bad thing that he has ever done, and even with his biggest offense—his role in Sarah Lynn’s death—being kept under wraps, BoJack, Diane, Todd and Princess Carolyn manage to fill up two full whiteboards with just the dirty deeds off the top of their heads.

BoJack has hurt just about everyone he knows, including and especially all of his friends. As much as everyone—the other four main characters, we the viewers—should hate him for it, the show does a good job of keeping him sympathetic while also making it clear that he is in a self-made hole.

“No matter how many starts I get,” BoJack says in episode 11, “there’s always the same ending: everything falls apart, and I end up alone.”

“I’m still here, BoJack,” Princess Caroline replies.

“Why?” BoJack asks.

BoJack has to let things get worse before they get better, but the question is whether things ever do get better for him. It is a question I suggest you figure out yourself by watching the show.

A scene from BoJack Horseman of Diane and her new boyfriend, Guy, eating hot dogs at a popular Chicago joint.

The other characters also get great send-offs this season. Mr. Peanutbutter suffers the consequences of his womanizing ways but also ends his story with more wacky antics. Todd puts his wacky antics to the side for a bit and tries to show some backbone when dealing with his family. Princess Carolyn struck a balance between work life and personal life in part 1 of season 6, but the second half sees her make her biggest strides in both. And Diane continues to grow while removed from the glitz and glam of Hollywoo (I swear this is not a typo).

I do not mean to brush past the rest of the cast; Todd is my favorite character, and I believe Princess Carolyn may have the best story of the five main characters, so it is not about preference toward BoJack. But this show (and two shows within the show) is named after BoJack Horseman himself, and while most of the characters are transitioning, this season is about endings for the Horseman.

Ending relationships, ending his alcoholism, ending his lies. Just ending.

If you have been a fan of “BoJack Horseman” since it came out, you will walk away from this finale satisfied, even if not every question gets a clear-cut answer. If you are thinking about watching “BoJack” but have not had time to yet, I implore you to give it a shot. It is funny, it is dramatic, and it is a lot more than the Family Guy- or Brickleberry-adjacent show that adult cartoons are known to be.

And be wary of the penultimate episode each season. It always makes for a “Downer Ending.”