SAU Buzz

BoJack Horseman Season 5 Review

by Crystal Miller
Posted on Oct 10, 2018

Many fans agree that this so-called “sad horse show” ended season 4 on a relatively happy note, which is truly a difference in the life of BoJack Horseman in the world of Hollywoo. BoJack has taken a new job on a new show, he found out he has a sister, and even though he put his demented, elderly mother in a shitty nursing home, the two shared a special final moment together.


But on the other hand, Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter had an emotional falling out after trying to take a trip to Hawaii and moving into a new house. “You know, sometimes, I feel like our marriage is like a Magic eye poster,” Diane confesses to Mr. Peanutbutter, “And it's messy. And at first glance, it doesn't seem to make any sense. And it's hard to figure out. But sometimes, if you squint at it just right, everything lines up, and it's the most perfect... beautiful, amazing thing. But… I’m so tired of squinting.” She sobs, and viewers know this must be the end for the dysfunctional couple.


Even though it was thought that season 4 ended on a happy note, it dumped a lot of emotional baggage on us. And season 5 certainly followed in the footsteps of every other season. The Light Bulb Scene is the first episode. This episode shows the audience the filming of BoJack’s new show Philbert. About a detective whose wife was killed. Within the first few minutes of watching I was confused as to why the show is being filmed in BoJack’s house, but he points out “why does this set look exactly like my house?” and of course the reason they explain in the show relates back to some silly shananigan from season 1. But the identical houses/set actually foreshadow what happens in the end of the season.


BoJack continuously expresses that he doesn’t like the character of Philbert, and that he doesn’t want to play a drunken asshole. “I don’t want to be that person,” BoJack expresses to Princess Carolyn as he’s possibly of thinking of backing out of the show.


“Then don’t be that person. Show up on time to set, be that drunken asshole when you’re working, then at the end of the day, take off your costume and be BoJack! The TV star that everyone loves!”


“Yeah,” BoJack said, “I can do that.” Spoiler alert: BoJack can’t do that.


We’re introduced to the second episode with a shot of Diane with a new haircut, wearing an outfit different from her typical army green jacket and jeans, mascara running down her face, sobbing in her car. This is following a party at Mr. Peanutbutter’s new house, which Diane doesn’t live in, because they are in the midst of a divorce. Diane spontaneously gets on a plane and travels to Vietnam. She is Vietnamese so she figured this would make perfect sense. In this time she has on her own, she does truly finds how to be alone after being with Mr. PB for the last 10 years. “You learn that you can survive being alone.”


Diane’s happiness is something I’ve been wanting for her the entire series. And I was always one who thought Diane and Mr. PB’s relationship was what was getting in the way of her happiness. But is surviving alone really a way to live? Even though she’s alone, and she can survive, she still isn’t happy.


Meanwhile, BoJack is spending most of his time with his co-star Gina. She’s often staying over at BoJack’s house, even though she continuously insists she wants nothing more than a professional/sexual relationship with BoJack. But as the season progresses, so does their relationship. By the time Philbert premiers, they are a couple, and Gina refers to them as “BoJina.”


In one scene the two are having an argument in BoJack’s room. Gina storms off into the bathroom, and BoJack knocks on the door asking her to come out. He opens the door to see the back of the set. “Oh right.” It’s kind of hard to remember being on set or being at home when they happen to look exactly identical.


The fourth episode BoJack the Feminist is a great example of social issues being told in a way that viewers will find funny, enticing, and educational as well. In this episode, BoJack goes on a talk show called The Squawk to talk about why he made a nasty face as problematic (and fictional) actor Vance Waggoner was receiving a “Forgivie,” (an award celebrities in Hollywoo receive  when they’ve done something terrible, but they are forgiven and their career goes on, no questions asked. In Vance’s case he choked a woman and hit her with a baseball bat and left a threatening voicemail for his 14-year-old daughter, among many other awful things.) At the award show, BoJack smelled some foul cheese right at the moment Vance was receiving an award, and media goes nuts wondering why BoJack is taking a stand against Vance by making a stank face… when it was really just the cheese. On The Squawk, BoJack tries to explain the cheese situation, when the hosts of the show keep bringing up reasons why they think BoJack is against Vance. BoJack says “Obviously it’s not good he choked his wife, I’m not trying to make a statement, it’s just that choking your wife is bad.”


The crowd started cheering “Don’t choke women! Don’t choke women!” then the chant changed to “Hollywoo shouldn’t legitimize abusers by allowing the to star in movies and TV shows that play off their problematic personas!”


This is the show just doing what it does best. Foreshadowing.


After BoJack’s “feminist performance” on TV, Princess Carolyn, his Producer… or his manager… no one actually knows, suggests BoJack and Diane team up so Diane’s knowledge on feminism and male toxicity in the media cycle, will come out of BoJack’s male mouth. From their working together, Diane gets hired on the set of Philbert to work on the script and character to make it less sexist and misogynistic.


Diane soon finds out about BoJack’s past. Something he did in season 2, on the boat in New Mexico, that has emotionally scarred his life as well as others, including a young girl. Diane now sees BoJack as a sexual predator.


After BoJack’s mother dies, he so melodramatically says he doesn’t want to talk about it, but he just wants to be treated like a celebrity who’s mom just died. He announces this to the entire crew on his TV show. When Diane asks him privately if he wants to talk, he keeps insisting no, but brings up his feelings about it constantly. So Diane, who is getting more of a say in the show’s script, decides to manipulate BoJack into talking about it.


She recreates BoJack’s moment of trauma in New Mexico to fit with the show. She forces him to act out on the spot a scene that brings back all the memories of the terrible thing BoJack almost did. He says his final line of the scene, “how can you fix something, when you’ve done something so wrong you can never go back?”


Here, Diane thinks bringing BoJack’s repressed trauma to the surface is what he deserves (for what he did, and for not telling Diane about it,) and I believe the thinks it will help fix him.


Ever since episode 5 when a stunt on the Philbert set went wrong, BoJack has been taking painkillers, every day, every three hours, or possibly more. With BoJack’s history of substance abuse, this pill taking doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for BoJack. Until he runs out when his younger half-sister Hollyhock comes to visit. She panics and pours BoJack’s pills down the drain. Then they spend the entire day searching for someone to sell them drugs until Hollyhock has to leave to go back to college. He is alone now, driving home in his Tesla. He wipes his finger around the inside of his last empty pill bottle and sticks his finger in his mouth. Nothing. The withdrawal is getting to him after only one day. The traffic is loud, the lights on the cars speeding by him are bright. Horns are honking. His neck is itching. He grips the wheel and puts the pedal to the metal into incoming traffic. Well he found a way to get his pills.


57 days later and BoJack has a cast on his arm, and is taking his pills. As some may notice in earlier parts of the season, BoJack seems to be confusing himself with his TV show character Philbert. In one episode we see a cut of BoJack talking to Diane’s therapist and he says “I dream that I’m Philbert, and when I wake up, I don’t know if I’m me or Philbert.” This starts becoming BoJack’s reality.


Attending the Philbert premiere, BoJack seems to be slipping further from reality. He refers to Flip, the director of Philbert, as Herb, who is dead now, and was the director of Horsin’ Around, BoJack’s very famous TV show back in the 90’s. But BoJack says in his speech that he is a Philbert. That everybody has a Philbert. That he, like Philbert has done terrible things in the past. But he’s not perfect, and neither is Philbert.


Diane is upset that people are cheering on BoJack’s She expresses to Flip that she was trying to make Philbert a more well rounded character, but after seeing how the character was portrayed in the final product, she’s realizing that Philbert isn’t the character she wanted to make.


“I made him more vulnerable, and that makes him more likable, which makes for a better TV show. But if Philbert is just a way to help dumb assholes rationalize their awful behavior, well I’m sorry, but we can’t put this out there.”


In a way I think the writers are hinting at BoJack Horseman as a show in its entirety. Are the creators of the show trying to get the message out there that yes, BoJack is a fucked up character who makes poor decisions, who abuses drugs, and manipulates people. Does that make him a bad person? Does that eliminate his chance of ever being good? Or is he just doomed?


Every character in this show has flaws, and the writers do a good job of pointing out the different flaws in each character and addressing them. All people do bad things. All people are capable of doing good things. There are no good guys, and bad guys. There’s just guys. Guys meaning people. People who are flawed and not perfect. But when a TV showcases a character’s bad behaviors does that give people in the real world justification to behave similarly and that be alright? I don’t think so.


Diane finds BoJack during the premier party to confront him about his speech. This scene at the end of episode 10 spills all the secrets between BoJack and Diane. In this very intense scene, Diane pushes BoJack to talk about his repressed feelings, but it turns into a long, heated argument about whether BoJack is okay, and all the terrible shitty things he’s done in his past, including on the boat in New Mexico, and his month-long bender that killed Sarah Lynn. But really why is Diane the one who is trying to take responsibility for BoJack’s disfunction? BoJack says he’s okay with himself, and that Diane taught him that when she wrote a book about all of BoJack’s flaws and sold a million copies, but people found him more relatable after that. She taught BoJack to be okay with himself and his flaws.


“I don’t believe that’s true. And I don’t think you believe it’s true. I feel like you want me to tell you that you can be better. And I believe it. But if all you’ve gotten out of this friendship is that you should be okay with yourself, as you are, then I don’t think this is a good relationship… for either of us.”


That being said, Diane walks away and says she’s going home. BoJack tries to stop her and he grabs her arm. She tries to pull away and his grip gets tighter as she whimpers that he’s hurting her. He hesitates and let go of her arm. She leaves. BoJack pops what is probably an almost lethal dose of his pain meds to mellow himself out, and rejoins the afterparty with Gina.


Episode 11 The Showstopper may be the most intense episode. After all the series is known for savinging it’s most heart-wrenching episodes for the 11th out of 12 episodes. After his argument with Diane, she doesn’t return on set for the filming for season 2 of Philbert. She’s gone, but now BoJack is becoming paranoid as he spirals deeper into his addiction. He thinks Flip is writing the script based off of BoJack, like Diane did in the submarine scene. So BoJack is using his detective skills he’s picked up from the show to find out who’s out to get him.


Constantly the episode is switching back between the set of Philbert, and BoJack’s life. He has lost grip on reality and he cannot keep track of what is his life, and what is Philbert’s life. He’s doing things like calling Gina by her name instead of her characters name, Sassy, during filming, or narrating his life out loud in front of Gina. She soon realizes BoJack’s addiction when she finds pills stashed all over his house. Gina refuses to give the pills up to him, and BoJack starts chasing her, getting angry, and punching a hole in the wall. He confuses this with a tense scene they’re filming between Philbert and Sassy. The scene ends with Philbert choking Sassy on the ground. But BoJack doesn’t stop strangling her when Flip said cut.


Mr. Peanutbutter interviens and pulls BoJack off of Gina. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” She has bruises on her neck now and her eyes are bugging and bloodshot and dripping with tears. BoJack blacks out and remembers nothing of it the next day.


BoJack and Gina do an interview for the press, since crew members got video of the incident and it got out. BoJack says he needs to come clean in the interview, that everyone needs to know what he’s done and that he needs to be held accountable. Gina says no. She doesn’t want to be “the girl who got strangled by BoJack,” and for that to be what she’s known for. In the interview they claim it was just acting, and it’s so embarrassing that the video got out.


Gina is making this sacrifice for her career. She’s publicly pretending this traumatic incident didn’t happen to her, and she has to brush it off like it’s no big deal. Thinking about the future of Gina, she could come clean about BoJack’s abuse 20 years from now. And maybe if times are like they are now, she could be accused of lying, and some may use the argument “why didn’t she report it when it happened?” Gina’s situation here is a perfect example of the recent movement #WhyIDidntReport.


BoJack goes to Diane, begging her to write a call-out piece about him, revealing what a terrible person he is and everything he’s done wrong, but to leave Gina out of it. But nobody is going to hold BoJack accountable for his actions. He has to take responsibility for his own actions. This is why, with the help of Diane, BoJack has decided to go to rehab, and get sober.


The season ends with Diane dropping BoJack off at the rehab facility, and once he’s inside. She gets in her car and lets out a sigh. It’s hard to determine if this is a sigh of relief, insisting that Diane finally helped BoJack get the help he needs. Or was it a sigh of disappointment, because maybe if she could fix BoJack, then she could fix herself. But no matter what she feels about it, I think she did a friends job, and truly helped BoJack, even if she had to take it a little far for BoJack to realize he needed help. But do the ends justify the means? Is what she did to BoJack on set acceptable, since that is kind of what set him off in his downward spiral? No one can really be to blame because there are no good guys, or bad guys. We’re all just guys.


There’s no telling what could be in store for season 6. Will BoJack be a changed person when he comes out of rehab? Will we get to see his process through rehab? BoJack has a lot to fix about himself. And he’s just added to his list of terrible things he can never take back.