Well fuck, I don’t know. Don’t ask me.
So. Bojack Horseman. With the first half of Bojack Horseman’s final season having been out for a while, the second on the way, and one final trailer having been released, the internet is once again abuzz with analysis, hot takes, memes, and most of all speculation about what’s gonna happen to Bojack. Y’know. The title of the article. Well, I have my theories, and I guess in publishing them on the internet I’m viable to gain or lose an indeterminate amount of e-points depending on whether said theories hold any water. To clarify, I haven’t the faintest idea what’s going to happen in particular, and I don’t really care to speculate. This is more just gonna be me looking at what I think this show is overall, and trying to draw a few broad conclusions about what the ending will probably be based off of that.
The Life of Bojack Horseman.
What is Bojack Horseman about? Well, Bojack Horseman is, on the surface, about a depressed, bitter, alcoholic former sitcom star and the assorted cast of characters that are drawn into his orbit. He and said characters go on a bunch of wacky misadventures in Hollywoo(d), which usually involve fun sight gags, pop culture references, and a bunch of animal related puns.
Bojack Horseman is also about things that make you feel bad. Societal failings, mental illnesses, deconstructing the easy lies that we like to tell ourselves about life, and all that fun stuff. While Bojack Horseman stars a cast of colorful characters and takes place in a zany sitcom world, the reality it displays is really like a funhouse mirror of our own, and it is not afraid to be very dark in depicting it. The titular character, Bojack Horseman, had an extremely traumatic childhood, and has had to deal with various misfortunes and difficult situations throughout his entire life. The show does an excellent job of showing you exactly why he’s ended up as such a dysfunctional asshole in the present.
It also does not shy away from the fact that he is a dysfunctional asshole. He does very very bad things, stubbornly resists to be honest with himself about his problems, and when he does go so far that even he can’t ignore it, instead of taking the steps necessary to become better he usually wallows in self pity or tries to smooth everything over with an apology or a grand gesture. That is who Bojack is (Or was. We’ll get back to this in a minute.) and no matter the things that happened to him that made him this way, that doesn’t excuse his actions.
It’s for this reason that a lot of people think Bojack’s ultimate fate will be death. After all, it would be in line with the tone of the often times bleak nature of the show. And it wouldn’t be out of character for someone as screwed up as Bojack to ultimately decide to commit suicide or die of an overdose or something. Plus, Bojack is a bad person. Does he even deserve a happy ending?
The Death of Bojack Horseman?
This line of thinking is not unfounded. After all I just listed a whole bunch of perfectly valid reasons why some might think the show would go in that direction. Plus the show has had lines and moments that seem eerily like they’re foreshadowing Bojack’s death. In Season 3 Episode 9, Diane, in a fit of anger, says Bojack will kill himself, and he’ll have burned so many bridges that there’ll be no one to stop him. Bojack himself then says that there’ll be plenty of people around when he kills himself. Bojack’s childhood idol, Secretariat, ultimately ended up committing suicide. There’s even the intro of the show, that shows Bojack falling off the deck of his house/the planetarium. There’s legitimate reason to think he might.
That being said, it’s probably easy to tell by the way I wrote these last two paragraphs that this is not a line of thinking that I subscribe to. Of course, the show wants you to think Bojack might die or commit suicide. Generally, works of fiction want you to believe that any number of bad things could happen to the main characters. That’s how tension is generated. Moments like the end of Season 3 where Bojack lets go of his steering wheel while driving down the road would have no impact if you weren’t at least somewhat concerned that Bojack might legitimately commit suicide.
But what would the show be saying if Bojack killed himself? What would it ultimately be about? A depressed asshole horse, who ultimately became so depressed that he decided to kill himself? I mean it could work as a cautionary tale. Bojack is not a person you’re supposed to emulate, after all. But I just don’t think that’s what the show is trying to say, or the type of tone the show usually strikes. The show is dark, yes, absolutely, but it is not dark for the sake of being dark. It’s dark because it’s trying to be honest. And honestly? The world can be pretty dark sometimes. But, on the other hand, can you think of a single season finale in the show that is completely hopeless for all the characters? Hell, with the exception of Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter’s marriage dissolving – which was arguably a good thing anyway – Season 4 has an unambiguously happy ending for most of the main characters, including Bojack.
The show has always made an effort to balance it’s dark and uncomfortable subject matter with genuine positivity and optimism, because honestly? The world can throw you a bone sometimes, too. This show, although maybe not as often as it dwells in tragedy, does show that happiness is achievable. People can get better. Progress can be made. You just have to do it every day. Bojack just hasn’t been willing to make the effort. Until this season.
The first half of this season is perhaps the longest stretch of time Bojack has gone without indulging in all of his worst habits. It opens with him going to rehab, genuinely trying therapy, making amends with people who he’s wronged, and just generally trying to change his attitude. Once he gets out of rehab he still attends AA meetings. He tries to be a good friend and show kindness to the people around him. But, of course, there is still an entire half season left to go, and it seems like Bojack will have to face the consequences of his lifetime of bad decisions during it.
After all, like I said, this show doesn’t let its main character off the hook. Whether he’s remorseful or not, whatever his reasons were, however much he’s trying to change now, he still has to answer for the things he’s done in the past. And I think it’s how he faces that challenge that will ultimately determine whether he can have a “happy ending”. I don’t think this show would have Bojack genuinely making a change for the first time in his life only to deny him some sense of happiness right in the home stretch, and suggest that he should never have gone through the effort of trying in the first place. But Bojack does have to show that he’s serious about being a better person and that does include facing the music.
That being said, I think Bojack is in a place where he can do that now. This is not the same Bojack that we saw at the beginning of the series. At the end of Season 5, Bojack basically begged Diane to show the world what a bad person he was, and although that was Bojack at a particularly low point and a lot has changed between then and now, it doesn’t seem like Bojack has regressed from that genuinely remorseful state of being. His guilt over Sarah Lynn haunts him throughout this entire season. He doesn’t lash out in anger when his therapist lashes out at him. When Sharona tries to let him off the hook at the AA meeting he all but begs her to let him genuinely apologize. I think this Bojack could handle what’s coming to him, and earn a “happy ending” in the process.
The real question to me is what this show’s version of a “happy ending” is in the first place. This is, after all, not a show that seems to believe in the traditional “happy ending”, and judging by my liberal use of quotation marks around the phrase I don’t think I believe in them either. At least not in this show. Bojack’s clearly not gonna beat the odds, come out of the season unscathed, find true love, and have a successful career winning Oscars happily ever after, the end. But I also don’t think Bojack’s gonna lose everything, completely regress, burn all his bridges for good and then die. Whatever happens to Bojack, it’s gonna come after a lot of pain and possibly even a relapse, but I think at the end of the show there will be some sense of hope. Some sense of genuine change for the better. He’ll make you understand that he’s more horse than a man. Or he’s more man than a horse.
Hey there. It’s me. Sailor. The writer of the above blog post. We here at The Story Arc realized recently that we haven’t really made, well, any effort to engage with you guys directly. Well, it’s time we changed that. If you have any thoughts or opinions about this post or the blog in general so far, feel free to leave a comment. I’d really enjoy hearing what people have to say. If you’d like to read a better post, check out last Friday’s Primal review, written by DK (it’s really good), or follow the blog for new posts every Friday.