Lessons Animation Taught Us: A Bojack Horseman Character Study
A very late submission to Filmjoys assignment.
In 2018, a Youtube channel called Filmjoy released a video called Lessons Animation Taught Us. Which inspired many content creators to make similar videos on their own explaining their own lessons that were taught to them from animation, as was it's intended goal! Now I'm going to make one of my own. I'm going to be talking about my favorite show of all time, Bojack Horseman! Many people have told me that they refuse to watch the show because of how real it is. But I think it's because of that reason, everyone should watch the show. Because the show is so complex, I can't begin to talk about it all. So I'm just going to talk about some of my favorite characters and what the taught me as they transition to the beginning of the show to the end!
*This will contain spoilers!*
Attempt at a quick synopsis of Bojack Horseman:
The show is about a anthropomorphic world of animal people and regular people in modern day Hollywoo, Los Angeles (I did not spell that incorrectly). We follow mostly the life of former 90s sitcom actor Bojack Horseman while he tries to stay relevant and loved in the public eye and also his home life as he battles his own depression and anxiety with self-sabotaging behavior. The show attempts to unpack many subjects along with depression and anxiety such as feminism, celebrity scandals, sexuality, and so much more!
I think in one way or another, almost every fan of the show has related to Bojack, myself included. One thing the show teaches you very early on is that Bojack is not a good person. He's narcissistic, destructive, emotionally abusive, alcohol and drug abuser. However, he wants to be better and sometimes tries to be in the only ways he knows how. "All I know about being good, I learned from tv." -Netflix, season 5 episode 6. Bojack had a abusive childhood and the only kind of loved he ever experienced was the superficial kind you get as a celebrity. Which has aided in his development of depression and anxiety. His most comfortable solution to overcoming his issues is to just suppress them and distract himself, even though he knows that's not enough. "He filled the air with words, terrified of silence, as one often is who is smart enough to recognize his many personal failings but unable or unwilling to take the steps required to fix them." -Netflix, season 1 episode 10. However through his actions, we learn from him that there is no easy way to be a good person or to be better. Being better requires hard work, it takes finding healthy steps to overcoming your pain and trauma, being consistent, and learning to let go of the pain. Often times that means learning to ask for help.
Yes, that is her full name. She is considered a Sisyphus type of character. "Laura, clear out the rest of my day! I have to push a boulder up a hill, and then have it roll over me time and time again with no regard for my well being." -Netflix, season 1 episode 12. She is a person who goes out of her way for everyone and everything, even if those people will bring her down. She's someone who craves simplicity while the craziness of her job is what gives her drive and purpose. "...What if that goes away when I go back to work? So don't go back to work. What? I'm dying here, Bojack! I need my job. I love my job." -Netflix, season 6 episode 7. One of the biggest lessons I've learned from her was that no matter how insane your life gets, it's always important to make time for what you love in life. Princess Carolyn also went through a horrible struggle that does not get talked about often. She always wanted to have kids of her own one day, and growing up in a big family she thought she would have many. However she learns that she can't have kids of her own. The show then goes on to explore not only what it's like when you are incapable of not having kids, but what it's like trying to find other options to have kids. As a young male myself, I could never understand what it's like to have a miscarriage, but I think the show does a great job on shining a light on the issue that more people experience than we think.
In my personal, Todd is one of my favorite characters on the show. He is wacky and gets himself into crazy shenanigans. Todd can be both the comic relief and also a pillar of support for anyone on the show, even when he doesn't realize it. "Look, the woods are dark and scary, but the only way out is through. I'm sorry, I got distracted by the woods, what were we talking about?" -Netflix, season 4 episode 12. He seems one dimensional at times. Todd is often abused by Bojack and for a while he just takes it. However, as the show goes on, Todd teaches us that we can't always just see the good in people. We have to move on from the people that hurt us, no matter who they are and be our own person. As well, as learning when to forgive those who hurt us and are doing everything they can to make amends. "...I just need to stop expecting you to be a good person so that way I won't get hurt when you're not." -Netflix, season 1 episode 11. Another really important lesson Todd teaches us is learning to be comfortable with who we are. Later in the show, Todd comes out as asexual. he doesn't know how to feel or react to this new revelation, so he dates the first asexual person he meets. When he realizes that they don't have anything in common other than the fact they are asexual, he teaches that he can still just be himself. He doesn't need to have this new part of him consume is whole identity. He's just a person, who is also asexual.
I haven't even begun to scratch the surface on this show. There are many lessons this show can teach if everyone gave it a chance. I just recommend that you watch it with your family or a friend! Bojack Horseman can be watched at anytime with a Netflix subscription!