Bojack Horseman (Season 2) (2015)
TVMA / Netflix
Animation / Comedy / Drama
Starring: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie
Creator: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Last year when Netflix released the inaugural season of Bojack Horseman, I was pleasantly surprised at the unexpected dark humor and meta-commentary on Hollywood culture that the show provided. What made it even more peculiar and original was the fact that the show featured a mix of human characters and human-like animals. The main character is a horse that is a “has-been” TV show actor. It doesn’t get more original than that. The show gained traction and rose in popularity, giving the show a chance to shine again with a new season. With season two, I was pleased to realize that everything that I loved about the original season makes its return once again, this time better than ever.
Things pick up right where the first season left off. Bojack, voiced by Will Arnett, seems to have it all. Diane (Alison Brie) finished the book detailing the actor’s life and times and it is met with success. It’s so successful in fact that it strikes a resurgence in Bojack’s career. Bojack’s dream project, portraying the famous racehorse Secretariat, finally comes to fruition. With the help of studio mogul Lennie Turtletaub (J.K. Simmons) and director Kelsey Jannings (Maria Bamford), Bojack ends up landing his dream role in his dream production. Everything seems to be going right for Bojack Horseman.
Bojack seems to be a changed horse, spewing positive vibes all over the place in the first episode. However, this doesn’t last long as Bojack starts to slip slowly and slowly back to his old self. This is what makes the second season so fascinating. Bojack seems to be riding cloud nine, but he still manages to fall into a pit of negativity and pessimism. Classic Bojack Horseman am I right? We soon see the Bojack that we all came to love from the first season, but things take a turn for the absolute worst towards the end of the season, a turn I was not expecting. It’s almost hard to watch Bojack make the mistakes that he makes as things come to a close. He almost manages to bury everything that he had with a few bad decisions. You’ll know exactly what I mean when you watch the twelfth episode, “Escape from LA.” The last minutes of that episode…are just plain difficult to stomach. It made me want to punch through the TV and slap Bojack because of his blatant stupidity.
Most of the show’s favorites return for the second season. Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul), Diane, and Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) all make a return. Unlike the first season, the lens broadens as we dive into some of the stories of some of the side characters, which is really refreshing. We see a lot more of Diane and the kinds of things that she has to deal with as a female writer. Through her adventures, the show provides a commentary on some issues that women with a voice face in our society today. The show handles these plotlines smartly and they provide some food for thought. We also get to see more of Princess Carolyn, which was a joy to me since she was one of my favorite characters. She’s pretty much an exact replica of the ruthless Hollywood agents that exist in the real world, and we get to see her start a new agency with the charismatic and talkative Rutabaga Rabitowitz, voiced by Ben Schwartz. (It’s here that I should mention that the show still manages to create some pretty clever names for its non-human characters) A newcomer that deserves some respect and a shout out is Lisa Kudrow’s character, Wanda. Wanda acts as the love interest for Bojack this season. The two meet after Wanda wakes up from a twenty year coma. You can only imagine the kinds of jokes that stem from that. I liked her character a lot and she ended up being one of my favorite newcomers to the cast. Finally, we get to see more of Mr. Peanutbutter and his resurgence to fame with a hilarious new game show, the brainchild of the back-to-life author J.D. Salinger, because who else?
One complaint that I have is one that you have probably heard voiced by others who have critiqued the show, and that is how the second season has handled Bojack’s roommate Todd. Todd was a fun character who managed to get himself into some pretty bizarre situations. Aaron Paul takes the character and runs with it, putting a lot of life into the voice of Todd. The second season however does not give him the love that he probably deserves. A lot of his plotlines are insignificant to the story as a whole and pale in comparison to the amount of love that characters like Princess Carolyn and Diane received. His character becomes a little more important during the last two episodes, but the majority of his time is spent getting into some pretty dumb, albeit pretty funny, shenanigans that don’t really mean anything to the larger picture.
Bojack Horseman still retains the smart humor and sharpness from the second season while going in some pretty hilarious directions. The portion of the season dedicated to Mr. Peanutbutter’s game show is pretty fun to watch and Diane and Sebastion St. Clair’s (Keegan-Michael Key) adventures in Cordova also provide some good laughs. Bojack’s whole trip to New Mexico is also unexpected and pretty great as well. It’s also fun to pick out the amount of guest voices that are featured over the course of the show, another thing that made a return from season one. The voice cast broadens even more and there are some surprise voice performances from the likes of Paul McCartney and Daniel Radcliffe, among a treasure trove of others.
One of the things I knocked the original show for was the seriousness of some of its plot points, a type of seriousness that makes its return again in season two. This time however I managed to overlook this and realize that the story that Bojack Horseman tells is genuinely funny and pretty intelligent. The show is a much stronger beast this time around and it provides us with a hilarious, and pretty accurate, scope into the fast-paced and hectic world that makes a residence in Hollywood. Bojack Horseman is also as fresh and seaworthy as ever in today’s ocean of comedy. It was announced this morning that the show would be receiving a third season, which makes me pretty happy. After this second season, I only want to see more of what this show can do.