The following is a review of the sixth and final season of BoJack Horseman (Parts I and II) — Available on Netflix.
In the final season of BoJack Horseman, the titular character goes to rehab as he decides it is time to grapple with his own trauma and the trauma that he has caused. But sometimes it isn’t good enough to exercise personal growth, and BoJack Horseman (voiced by Will Arnett) may have to be put through the wringer by unrelenting gossip journalists that hope to ‘cancel,’ so to speak, our titular character.
The sixth season of BoJack Horseman was split up by Netflix, and this was the first time that Netflix had done this for this show. The first half of the season was released in 2019, and the second half was released in 2020. This actually also made me put the season to the side. I watched the first half of the season so long ago, and I only just finished watching the second half of the season. The act of splitting up the season made the final season feel less monumental, in a way. The fact of the matter is that BoJack Horseman is one of my favorite animated series ever made. I think that the show has time and time again proven itself as both intelligent, hysterical, and soul-stirring. And even though I am frustrated by the fact that the divided season made the experience of watching the final season less special to me, let me be clear that this was, nevertheless, a very good final season.
BoJack Horseman has always been a sharply written adult animated comedy series that peppers in clever pop culture references, like other similar adult animated sitcoms such as The Simpsons or Family Guy. What always set BoJack Horseman apart from those other shows was that what happened actually meant something. When the titular character wronged someone, then that moment was rarely, if ever, forgotten or pushed aside. The writers of the show paid more attention to the gravity of depression and trauma than most shows like it would ever dare to. This means that what I always remembered the show for was its hard-hitting and honest depictions of real-life issues, even though the show also always contained clever comedy and references in the background.
I think that the show peaked in seasons four and five, and that eventually, which is especially true of this season, some of the great side-characters’ subplots did not always live up to the importance or seriousness of the titular character’s thought-provoking overarching story. I think that the Mr. Peanutbutter character was always a fun comic relief, but, in the final season, Diane Nguyen and Todd Chavez’ plotlines sometimes felt like afterthoughts. However, I want to stress that the writers, animators, and voice-actors did find great moments for all of the shows main characters this season. In particular, I want to highlight that even though Diane Nguyen’s character perhaps wasn’t as important this season as I expected, I thought that the tenth episode — Good Damage, about Diane’s depression, writer’s block, and anti-depressants — which featured sequences that used a different and more aggressive or raw art style — which the episode refers to as ‘sadcore,’ I believe — was one of the highlights of this final season, for me.
I feel like every single season has had at least one unforgettable episode, and this season was no different. There can be no doubt that the penultimate episode of season six — The View From Halfway Down — is the the biggest highlight of the season, and I think it is also easily the most moving episode of this final season. In fact, I think it could’ve been one of the most unforgettable series finales ever made, if they hadn’t opted for a more low-key (and, perhaps, less-than-honest) final episode of the series, Nice While It Lasted.
With The View From Halfway Down, which is an episode where BoJack Horseman imagines that he has one last conversation with family-members and some people that he has wronged, writer and creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg does a phenomenal job of communicating the confusing and terrifying elements of absurd dream logic. The wrongs that BoJack Horseman didn’t right over the course of the series are staring him in his face as the curtain is closing. In the episode, the creators of the show communicate BoJack’s nightmarish confusion with characters that act irrationally and that know about their own tragic demises. We also literally see some kind of black liquid (that looks like ink) consuming them, which feels oddly appropriate since this episode comes near the end of an animated series.
The View From Halfway Down is a haunting masterpiece of an episode about trying to escape the inevitable. The heartbreaking ending of the episode is arguably the show’s darkest possible ending as the dark ink literally overwhelms BoJack in the final shot. Perhaps it would be too dark of an ending to an animated series, and perhaps that is exactly why the show ends with the less-than-satisfying Nice While It Lasted. Nevertheless, it must be said that, from start-to-finish, BoJack Horseman was an absolutely incredible show that I am so happy exists. I hope that it isn’t forgotten too soon, because it has been Netflix’s most consistently great show throughout these many years. I hope that it continues to find new audiences because BoJack Horseman is not just another adult animated sitcom. BoJack Horseman was more poignant than I ever imagined the first time I pressed play back in 2014. This show was special.
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.