For five seasons we watched Bojack Horsemans’ life spiral out of control and his present life repeatedly drown in a sea of his own mistakes and regrets from the past. The shows’ premise was mostly around the damage that childhood traumas deeply inflict on a person. The show addresses this damage. At the same time, the damage that this damaged-person has been causing had to be sensibly addressed too. After finishing the final season, we’re happy to conclude that the creators managed to convey a message that is exemplary and fitting in the MeToo era.
Bojack Horseman and his series of mistakes
The main protagonist in the show is basically a damaged and consequentially, toxic character. He is an alcoholic, womanizer with a tendency to shut people out and simply not care. Starting from Season 1, we see him making mistakes repeatedly. Like the time when he abandoned his close friend and director of Horsin’ Around, Herb Kazzaz.
He refuses to acknowledge his friendship with Todd Chavez who loves him unconditionally. Due to his unhealthy attachment to him which he can’t accept, Bojack simply gets selfish. When the idea of Todd moving away comes up because of a newfound passion, he hatches a plan with Margo Martindale who gets Todd addicted to his video game again.
Bojack also misuses Princess Carolyn’s evident love for him. He keeps tagging her along with him out of loyalty but he keeps blowing her off until she realizes she has had enough.
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But that’s not the worst. Bojack ends up ruining things even when he does not intend to. A flashback in Season 6 shows that he was responsible for giving Sarah Lynn her first taste of alcohol. And unfortunately, while they party like crazy together, he’s the one who gives her heroine even though she is an addict. A few hours later, she dies.
As his life spirals more and more out of control, he strangles actress Gina Cazador on set.
But perhaps the biggest mistake Bojack ever made was when he goes back into Charlotte’s life intending to ruin her marriage and ends up almost sleeping with her 17-year-old daughter, Penny.
Accountability in Bojack Horseman Season 6
The show ended exactly as it should have. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Season 6 of Bojack Horseman finally shows him breaking his old patterns. He joins rehab, promising himself to put an end to the addiction and come out as a new man. But the show keeps making a point. Starting afresh is not enough. The past makes its’ way to the present, especially if you’ve hurt too many people. Part one of Season 6 started on this positive note. But by the end you reach the second part- you realize that Bojack Horseman is not free of redemption.
He starts over as Professor Horseman and has stayed away from alcohol, broken his old toxic patterns, and is leading a regular life. But soon enough, he gets a call from Charlotte telling him to stop whatever he is doing. This reminds him of what he did with Penny and has a panic attack. The reporters are out there, uncovering every little dirt they can on Hollywoo star Bojack Horseman.
They find out his role in Sarah Lynn’s death. And they reach out to Penny. Soon enough, he is on national television, answering questions to get him out of the negative spotlight and publicity. Here is when accountability comes in.
In the MeToo era, predators have been known to give out a carefully articulated and strategic official statement to simply sweep accusations against them under the rug. But this is not possible for Bojack Horseman. He feebly attempts to justify his wrongdoings by explaining that he is broken, damaged and had a bad childhood. But that does not free him of his crimes.
In fact, the public condemns and boycotts him. His accountability is even more evident when in the end, all his friends have distanced themselves from him. He faces jail time and when he comes out, he meets them again. Princess Carolyn has moved on and married Judah, and explicitly (but politely) refuses to be an agent for him again. Todd Chavez moves on. And it is made clear in the last shot, that Diane Nguyen also meets him for the last time.
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Bojack Horseman has to pay for his mistakes, eventually. And he does so by continuing to live and make most of what’s left. There’s no easy pass out of it. He loses his career, fame, name, and eventually the people closest to him. Bojack Horseman does not get a cliche happy ending because he does not deserve it. In fact, Raphael Bob-Waksberg has portrayed what accountability in Hollywood should really look like.