Getting Serious…But Not Too Serious: Netflix Original Bojack Horseman Returns With Successful Fifth Season

by Kerry Torpey on September 20, 2018

Arts & Entertainment

a still from an episode of season 5 of the Netflix original, Bojack Horseman

by Peter Keough ’20

A&E Staff

Originally airing on Netflix in 2014, Bojack Horseman, one of the streaming site’s most lauded original creations, is back for a fifth season. Created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and starring the voices of Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, and more, Bojack is known for its unique ability to blend the airiness of smart humor with the heaviness of serious topics. 

This aspect of the show is front and center in the most recent season, as its ensemble of characters attempt to navigate their lives while dealing with a myriad of realistic and burdensome issues. The 12 new episodes explore issues such as strained relationships, divorce, drug addiction, asexuality, identity, loss, adoption, and, most topically, the #MeToo movement. 

It is the delicate balancing of these more serious topics with the comedic aspect of the show, however, that prevents the episodes from getting bogged down in deep issues. Samantha Nelson of The Verge addresses this in her review of season five, stating, “This is heavy material to cram into 25 minutes, but each episode succeeds through a mix of sharp dialogue and the goofy humor inherent to a world equally populated by humans and anthropomorphic animals.” 

Through the excellent writing and witty humor that is incorporated into every one of Bob-Waksberg’s episodes, the viewer is able to both reflect  on, and be  entertained  by the storylines of his characters. While a viewer may be contemplating the morality of a character’s actions one minute, he or she may be laughing at the concept of, for example, actual fleas shopping at a flea market in the next scene. The interplay of these dueling facets of the show is exactly what makes it work.

Bojack Horseman boasts relatability and shock value, keeping the viewer hooked and giving them some incredibly complex characters to both sympathize with, and critique along the way. 

While it keeps the actions and feelings of its anti-hero protagonist front and center, it does not expect the viewers to always side with Bojack. This is especially present throughout the fifth season, as much of what occurs with the title character is controversial and thought-provoking. 

As a whole, season five of Bojack Horseman delivers on the promises of previous seasons. It continues to walk the tightrope of blending humor with adversity and succeeds beautifully, giving viewers yet another season to brood over upon completion. It is a show that will make viewers laugh one minute and reflect the next, and because of that, Bojack continues to be one of Netflix’s greatest successes. All five seasons of Bojack Horseman are available for streaming on Netflix.