It is really, really hard for people to get endings right. It was a running joke in IT Chapter 2 and while the writers think it’s good, the legions of fans will soon come screaming and petitioning for a re-do as it wasn’t well done. Lost, Dexter and more recently Game of Thrones have died a shameful death with lousy written endings.
So you can imagine the pressure the writers from BoJack Horseman were under.
They had to close off all the story lines, they had to keep the self-destructive personality in check and they had to deliver justice to someone who has not received it for the death of Sarah Lynn. BoJack is in the spotlight again and Hollywoob style, he makes an apology video which people can relate to.
He pushes it, he becomes truly hated by the media and the entire world turns against him.
He is homeless, depressed and like any struggling alcoholic can tell you – the call of the bottle is strong when there is nothing else to drown it out.
The beginning of the end
I liked the jump they had to the future where BoJack is an acting teacher. He had stopped dying his hair, he is respected, he lives the dream life of an B-series ex-actor.
Acting is about leaving everything behind, and… And becoming something completely new.
As he teaches his acting course to aspiring wanna-bes, we get to glimpse into his professional life – what is acting – and how far is acting from real-life?
According to Stanislothski, acting is the desire to create inside of oneself another, deeper, more interesting life than the one that actually surrounds him… or her.
Meisner would say, “Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”
While all of these are true – the question remains whether BoJack had really stopped acting? Is he acting now – as a school teacher, as a mentor, because that’s what he deemed as more interesting? He tries to create a bond with his younger sister who is playing rugby at the same university, he wants a family, away from the killer scenes of L.A. But Hollyoak is at the age where parental insertion or even brotherly insertion is unwelcomed. She wants to have a life, find out who she is and what she likes and she can’t do that with BoJack constantly reminding her of her past.
Diane is going to a rough patch too with her book writing – she stopped taking her meds as she thinks that depression will at least give her a line to grab onto so that she can put it down on paper – a memoir of her life because if she doesn’t write it, who will?
I’m trying to focus.
I’m trying to get to the truth.
Your damage isn’t interesting and you’re unworthy of love.
[…] I’m not writing a book to have fun. If I don’t write my book of essays now,
I never will!
“So? Don’t write your book of essays.”
– I have to!
Because if I don’t, that means that all the damage I got isn’t good damage, it’s just damage. I have gotten nothing out of it, and all those years I was miserable was for nothing. I could have been happy this whole time and written books about girl detectives and been cheerful and popular and had good parents, is that what you’re saying?
What was it all for?
Diane is going through an existential phase where she feels that she is selling out and by not acknowledging her early trauma – the school bullying, the unloving parents – she is discarding a part of herself who makes her who she is. But dwelling inside negative emotions will a) not be helpful in writing a marketable book b) not help with coming out at the other end of the tunnel called depression.
The final two episodes
After the fall from grace, BoJack goes on a bender which puts him into a coma and this is where the final musings begin to happen. After a dinner of their favourite foods (pills for BoJack and fries and ketchup for Sarah Lynn), the main participants (all dead) go on stage to tell their feelings about passing on and making it easier for BoJack to acknowledge his own mortality and come to terms with the end.
I liked the fact that they put everything on a stage setting. All the usual friends were missing as they can’t give you any advice when you’re dead and to be honest, I think they managed to show their appreciation for BoJack when he put up his college play and they all came to see it. A minor achievement considering his acting career, but the first one he did since he got clean.
Yeah, I kept having this dream where I was having dinner with all the people who were gone and I thought, “I should do that!” So, here I am.
All the people at the table were having their “normal” conversations and discussing what brought them there. Sarah Lynn attributes her arrival to her first ever autograph which marked the beginning of her child-actor career and ending with an overdose.
You only get to give your first autograph once, you know. The second time it becomes an obligation, the third time a chore.
The scene becomes obviously meta-realistic when a conversation at the dinner table sees Bojack’s mother and Sarah Lynn referring to the latter’s death. Also, Sarah Lynn seems to have grown older: she was a pre-teen at the start of the conversation and an adult when her death is mentioned.
There are some hints that something is not quite as it should be – black tar dripping from the ceiling onto the table, people constantly talking about how they died and BoJack wondering how he got there from “his” house.
Does anyone else’s water taste like chlorine?
He then remembers he went into the pool and he drowned. He is dead or about to be dead, sitting here in a circle of friends, talking about whether it was all worth it or not.
– But see, this is where I get hung up, because when we valorize the idea of sacrifice, of loss, of suffering… When we grow up in a house that does that, we internalize this idea that being happy is a selfish act, but sacrifice doesn’t mean anything.
Yes, life has some ups and downs and sometimes the downs feel long and they are hard. But pushing through is what makes us human. Herb takes self-sacrifice off the table and talks about being authentic to yourself.
But the funny thing is, it wasn’t until I got fired that I actually became myself. I was out of the closet. I was free. I was authentically me.
What does being authentic have to do with anything?
Well, when I wasn’t hiding behind some facade, I could be at peace. That’s when I really got into philanthropy.
Did you get pleasure from your charity work? Like real, deep pleasure?
It dwarfed every other joy in my life.
Doesn’t count then. If you got pleasure, it wasn’t selfless.
So to recap – in order to live a fulfilling life and not have any regrets at your death bed – do good work but selflessly. Be yourself at all times, sacrifice yourself for the good of the many and bring joy. Sounds like religious talk. Secretariat puts it more bluntly
It felt good to help someone do something.
The final show scene is where everyone tells it how it is. Closure.
All the time those people spent, trying to do good or help people or be something?
I did none of that shit, and yet here I am, same as them. You were the fastest runner in the world.You inspired millions.
And yet, here I am, same as you.
So, if you could go back, do it again, what would you do different?
[sighs] What would I do? I wouldn’t have cared so much.
Cared about what? Racing?
I know this part is confusing because I’m Secretariat and also your dad for some reason,
but speaking as your dad, it’s important that you know that I cared.
No. You never cared. You cared about your book. You cared about getting drunk and telling everyone how miserable you were, but that’s not caring.
You think I didn’t care because I put up walls, but I cared so much, BoJack.
I had trouble at this time because the lines seemed really blurred. BoJack and Secretariat, they were one. They both put up walls, wrote books, got drunk and told everyone their sad little stories.
“But this is it, the deed is done
Silence drowns the sound
Before I leaped I should have seen
The view from halfway down
No! I really should have thought
About the view from halfway down”
Find your peace, big guy. Find it.
As all the performers disappear into the blackness, BoJack realises he’s next and that’s when he calls Diane. Not the real Diane but the Diane in his mind. The black tar is now threatening to swallow everything in reach and he’s nearly gone so what he wants is not closure with Diane but with how he died.
BoJack, why did you call me? I live in Chicago. I can’t save you.
– You didn’t pick up.
– It went to voicemail.
And then… I went back in the pool.
– It’s too late. What’s done is done.
There’s nothing I can do, BoJack. I’m not real. None of this is.
– So, what do I do now?
– BoJack, it doesn’t matter.
I really think BoJack died. The flat-lining at the end was pretty much it. But if you wait for the entire episode to finish, there is one heart-beat-start right at the end.
The finale was a massive party hosted by Princess Carolyn to celebrate her marriage to Judah. I was half thinking that BoJack is still dead but this is the part where he gets to say goodbye to his loved ones. He talks to everyone and they have their goodbyes. I started crying about mid-way through as I was happy for everyone that got their happy endings. And what really surprised me was that while all along I felt like Princess Carolyn and me were kinda the same, Diane and me were also kinda the same. Mostly when it comes to fears.
– Tell me what you’re afraid of. In this make-believe scenario that you came up with?
Well, I guess I’m afraid of losing some part of myself. I’m afraid that if I let someone else
take care of me that I’m not really me anymore. I’m afraid of getting too comfortable, you know, going soft. I’m afraid that this could be the best thing that ever happened to me and if it doesn’t make me as happy as I’m supposed to be, that means I’m a lost cause.
[..] Yes, all those things could be true, but on the other hand, what if you deserve to be happy and this is a thing that will make you happy? And maybe don’t worry about whether you’ll be happy later and just focus on how you’re happy right now?
Meaningful conversations make up a large chunk of the series. Change is vehemently visible. Freaking hell, this show left me more shaken than Breaking Bad. Very rarely does a piece of art make one retrospect so intensely without getting overbearing. Very rarely does a piece of art manage to enthral people with inventiveness and a commanding grip at the same time. Very rarely, do we get the opportunity to witness art like ‘Bojack Horseman.’ This show needs to go to the Louvre.
It’s like the song says. “You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around.”
You turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about.
Yeah, I don’t know if the songwriters put that much thought into the existential significance of the lyrics. They literally rhyme “about” with “about.”
But isn’t the point of art less what people put into it and more what people get out of it?
– Is that the point of art?
– Maybe. Or maybe art doesn’t need a point. Maybe that’s why it’s called art.