*Warning, spoilers ahead. To quote Walter White, I suggest you tread lightly.
If I had to describe the latest season of Netflix’s greatest and most misunderstood dramatic comedy starring a depressed anthropomorphic horse, I’d borrow a quote from Harvey Dent.
“The night is always darkest just before the dawn, and I promise you, the dawn is coming.”
When we last left Bojack (Will Arnett), he’d found a positive familial connection, agreed to star in a dark and gritty detective drama for new streaming service player whattimeisitrightnow.com and, after so many troubling experiences, seemed to have found peace in his turbulent life.
But, as is often the case on this show, Raphael Bob-Waksberg and his team don’t let the calm last.
In this season, the clip of plot developments slows down. Where last year felt like a breakneck pace, season five gives many of the shows characters ample time to shine and go through pain before becoming the best possible versions of themselves.
Dianne (Alison Brie) and Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Thompkins) finally reach a mostly stable ground in their relationship, Todd (Aaron Paul) continues to explore his asexuality and find out what that means for his interactions with other people and Bojack – after so long with his abusive parents – finally gets some closure in his relationship with his mother. While much of the show stands out, it’s the sixth episode, and Arnett’s performance, which will be talked about by people for years.
Taking a page from an iconic episode of the television series Maude, the production team gives Arnett a solo half hour to stretch his dramatic chops. The camera centered fully on Bojack, the audience watches as he gives a monologue painfully honestly about an important moment in life. While not as astounding creatively as the underwater episode from the third season, its nice to see the writers behind the show continually playing with what an episode of television is supposed to be.
Now, admittedly, I am a fan of the show. So, to be honest, it is difficult for me to find fault with a story which speaks to me, so when it comes to critiquing the faults of this season, I am really stretching. Bojack has never been a show which lets its characters off easily for the things they do, but in this season, the ramifications of their actions (particularly Bojack’s) could come across a little heavy to those who’ve dealt with friends or relatives struggling with drug problems.
As is often the case, he ends up on a bender, hurts people close to him and ends up struggling with how to make it right. Yes, we’ve seen this before, but here, its far more serious than ever before. I get the show is honest, but its also a world where a sentient yellow lab man is able to marry and sleep with an Asian woman, the drama could stand to be a little less hard-edged.
Season Five of Bojack Horseman is a triumph and an artful (if a little heavy-handed) look at the human condition. There’s still a great deal of life left in the story of the horse from Horsin’ Around and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Especially after this years’ ending, where Bojack goes somewhere to do something he’s never done before.