Diane Nguyen voiced by Alison Brie is an American-Vietnamese writer, a brilliant intellectual and a feminist on the hit animated-series ‘Bojack Horseman’. She is one of the most loved yet least understood characters on the show. She wishes to be a world-changing force who can make a difference.
A woman of contradictions, Diane is on a never-ending, tough journey of self-growth and discovery. She mostly suffers the existential crisis of not getting or knowing what she really wants.
That’s the problem with life, you either know what you want, and you don’t get what you want, or you get what you want, and you don’t know what you want.
Diane is a writer
Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie) is a phenomenal writer. She ghost-writes Bojack’s memoir in the first season that ends up working as a tool for his self-growth. Her biography is written for Bojack lands him a Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy or Musical even though it’s not a movie.
She is then hired to be a celebrity Tweet ghostwriter for Princess Carolyn’s agency, VIM until the agency closes.
Finally, she is hired as a writer for GirlCroosh, a pop-culture website. Here, Diane struggles with a real-world problem. She is intellectual, talented and wants to do much more for the world than what her opportunities allow her to do.
Diane recognizes the superficiality in society and seems to be in a constant war with herself. She ends up having to write pieces of work that don’t do anything but worsen the same realities she wants to fight against; like objectifying women and setting up unreal standards for them.
Diane, a “Misunderstood Intellectual” and Feminist
While being a third-wave feminist, Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie) herself critiques the Feminist community. Her relatable and candid take on the troubles living as a woman revolving around patriarchy, abortion and capitalism showcase some of the best writing in the series.
“Being a woman is not a hobby or a pet interest of mine. You get to drop in and play Joss Whedon and everybody cheers, but when you move onto your next thing, I’m still here.”
Many episodes show Diane highlighting the misogyny and double-standards that exist in society, especially for women. She constantly voices out that men have more privileges than women do such as safety, and women cant even speak up about it.
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In another episode, she calls out Hank Hippopolis who is accused of sexually abusing multiple women but isn’t held accountable as he holds a position of power.
She is exhausted by the female mistreatment around her and the men who jump on the feminist bandwagon but really don’t care. This is seen in Season 5, in the episode ‘Bojack the Feminist’.
Diane’s Relationship with Bojack
Her relationship with Bojack Horseman has always been speculated by fans as a deep, true friendship or a grand, pure form of love. She has deep conversations with him and for some reason, Bojack easily opens up to her.
She is always there to guide him with her raw advice and call him out for the wrong he does. Bojack shares her worst regrets with her too. And while holding him accountable, she keeps him close to her and wishes to fix the brokenness in him.
In season 5, she drops Bojack off to rehab and sighs with relief. It’s the kind of relief only a best-friend could feel or understand because they really care.
According to Diane (Alison Brie), a person’s actions truly define who he is. She does not believe in ‘deep-down.’
In many ways, Bojack seeks Diane’s validation and approval. She seems to be the light that guides him and he finds himself running back to her no matter what.
Despite numerous falling out between the two, the duo continues to have a solid bond in the show. Many fans wish the two would end up together, and it indeed huge speculation for Bojack lovers.
Diane’s Failed Marriage
Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie) gets married to Mr. Peanutbutter because the relationship is seemingly perfect. Slowly, she realizes that there is a clear incompatibility between the two.
Mr. Peanutbutter’s chirpy, happy-go-lucky self soon becomes over-bearing for her. With the hope that he would bring lasting happiness to her life, the opposite happens and she feels even more miserable.
Despite him being a conventionally ‘perfect’ husband, he fails at keeping her happy. He throws her a fabulous Star-bucks themed surprise birthday and showers her with grand gifts & gestures like the stolen ‘Hollywoo’ sign. But he doesn’t understand or accept that Diane is a low-key person who doesn’t like the spotlight or flamboyancy.
Eventually, she leaves him and they get a divorce. After this failed marriage, Diane feels like her existence is doomed. She continues to struggle in finding her real purpose in life. All she sees is the imperfection and how nothing is meant or can be promised to last.
Diane’s Existential Crisis
It’s easy to see that Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie) lives a life she is unable to truly love or appreciate. In many areas like career or relationships, she has a sense of dread that she can’t fight. Feeling she does not belong anywhere at all. Diane is miserable, out of place, and an underappreciated gem.
She seeks to find happiness yet never truly feels happy. She has a huge emotional breakdown in Season 5 when she cries her heart out. Diane is misunderstood and it is heart-wrenching. “Why can’t I be happy? Am I busted?”
Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie) then takes a solo trip to Vietnam, her ancestral home. The purpose of her trip is to find her sense of self and see if her cultural roots resonate with her.
The trip is refreshing for her. She tries hard to find some emotional clarity. Soon Diane is sobbing uncontrollably in the traffic, even in Vietnam, unable to let go of the emotional baggage. This shows just how deep emotional scars can be.
Her Iconic Speech On Her Trip to Vietnam
Her ending speech is truly beautiful when she tells us all the reasons she decided to go to Vietnam.
The real reason you go to Vietnam is because you accidentally see your soon-to-be-ex-husband kiss someone else. At first you think, oh, it’s a fling. Whatever. They’re drunk. It’s a party. But then he puts his hand on the small of her back exactly the way he used to do to you. It means, “I got you.” And when he did it to you, it made you feel safe. And you realize he will never do that to you again. And it breaks your heart again. After you thought your heart was so broken that it could never get any more broken. You thought it was safe. But it somehow finds a new way to break. Because even though you’re the one who asked for this, now that you’ve got it you are completely adrift. With no compass, or map, or sense of where to go or what … so you go to Vietnam. You think you might find community, a sense of connection to something bigger, but you don’t. In fact, you feel more alone than you did before you left … But you survive. You learn that you can survive being alone.
Diane | What’s Next?
Season 6 starts with Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie) living in Chicago, dating a new guy, ironically named, ‘Guy’. He is a co-worker, her camera-man, a true supporter and the person she had always needed.
“This isn’t real life, it’s summer camp. Temporary. Easy,” writes BoJack to Diane in one of the letters he sends her. This reflects the situation she is in with Guy. It’s all fun, games, and work.
Diane Nguyen gets a call from GirlCroosh telling her the tone of her work is too depressing and she needs to create ‘Feel-Good’ content. Soon after, GirlCroosh is taken over by an evil conglomerate ‘White Whale’.
Diane and Guy decide to expose White Whale for taking over companies and then stealing the livelihoods of people through controlled monopoly and abuse of power. Even after all the work, she does in this story, Diane finds that she remains powerless and unable to actually cause any harm to White Whale.
Dejected and again, unemployed, she moves back to LA. Here, she opens yet another letter Bojack has written for her from rehab. It says,
“I wasted so many years being miserable because I assumed it was the only way to be.”
She decides to move back to L.A, to Guy, to take control of her happiness and to live life however it is, but at least not be lonely anymore.
We are excited for Part 2 and what awaits Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie). Guy also has a son. How would this story pan out for Diane? What about Bojack and the best-friend in Diane that he needs? Will Diane ever find her peace?