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Two Drink Minimum: ‘BoJack Horseman’ Season 3 Recaps (Part 4 of 4)

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Two Drink Minimum is a comedy-based column by Vague Visages writer Jacob Oller.

Despite being under the “Two Drink Minimum” banner, make no mistake: BoJack Horseman is not a comedy. It may have started as one, as naive and free-wheeling and easygoing as its show-within-a-show, Horsin’ Around, but it’s gone too far to go back to those simple times. This becomes the theme of Season 3. As BoJack heads on the Oscar trail, it leads him further and further away from himself. It’s a path that he’s been told to take, which means it has nothing to offer him. Along the way, his co-stars take meandering routes to self-reevaluation while doing their best to break away from the toxic core that is BoJack himself.

Episode 10: “It’s You”

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BoJack’s an Oscar nominee! And like the opening of “Love And/Or Marriage,” he learns about it secondhand from someone that he (kinda) cares about. But unlike when Secretariat made him a bona fide movie star, awards recognition means, well, nothing. It’s an excess of icing on a cake that BoJack doesn’t even enjoy. Any more of this and he’s due for a diabetic shock. Through some extremely sophisticated animation, including a gorgeous tracking shot through BoJack’s relapse into hedonism and a noir metaphor from Ana about the importance to breathe, “It’s You” gives BoJack what he wants only to reveal that he shouldn’t have it.

When BoJack drives into his pool after a recreation of the show’s opening, Mr. Peanutbutter saves him. He’s the only character big-hearted enough to care about BoJack, and even he’s only at the party out of guilt and obligation. During the flashback, BoJack’s friends become closer and more mature with each other than with him. He’s finally pushed them all away and they’ve found comfort with each other. While making sharp commentary on the semi-mystical, sacred and extraordinarily old Oscar nomination process, BoJack Horseman also shows the meaningless behind-the-scenes that the titular character is pinning his happiness on.

As the falsehoods are revealed, the secondary characters strain to escape BoJack’s self-destructive gravity. When Todd, the ultimate schmuck, becomes clear-eyed, it’s the ultimate nail in BoJack’s coffin. He’s the problem. Will he finally change now that he’s lost his friends?

Miscellaneous bits:

  • An aye-aye does a line of cocaine off of one of its creepily long fingers at BoJack’s party.
  • Princess Carolyn drinks “catbernet.”
  • Nana Peanutbutter has the best sayings I’ve ever heard in my life.

Episode 11: “That’s Too Much, Man!”

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Sarah Lynn’s personalized version of John Everett Millais’ painting “Ophelia” immediately warns viewers not to become too attached. And the Requiem for a Dream mini-freakout that BoJack has in their hotel room (post-binge) provides even more foreshadowing. This episode is built around the question of “how far will they go?” and one must constantly reevaluate whether the BoJack team is merely yanking chains or has the creative cajones to slap some real consequences on its protagonist. Despite the misdirection and self-awareness, it turns out to be the latter.

“That’s Too Much, Man!” is devoted to digging up all BoJack’s demons and rubbing them in his face, or more accurately, letting him rub them in his face. After dwelling too long on more reruns of Horsin’ Around (eventually they’ll have shown clips of the series in its entirety), they crash an AA meeting which — in a roundabout and extremely shallow way — brings BoJack into the idea of making amends.

The idea of forgiveness is the end goal that BoJack wants to take the easiest path towards. It’s nothing different than his Oscar dreams, only more damaging because he’s already driven everyone else away. And now he’s killed the only other person who really understands, dragging her to the bottom of the ocean with him.

Miscellaneous bits:

  • Watching BoJack’s clothes become progressively more tattered is way more depressing than I would’ve imagined.
  • “Of course! Audiences hate meta jokes. When will comedy writers learn?!”
  • Another Hollywood pedophile joke!

Episode 12: “That Went Well”

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As referenced in the previous episode, BoJack and Sarah Lynn were kindred spirits on slightly skewed paths of success. BoJack attempts, in his drug fueled haze, to convince himself that he loves Sarah Lynn because they understand each other, but if there was any doubt left for viewers, the opening flashback erases it. BoJack has been exploiting everyone and everything around him for as long as anyone can remember. And it’s not even made out to be his fault, but the fault of the industry, as the narrative returns to the present and the hashtags mourning Sarah Lynn/promoting The Voice.

Mr. Peanutbutter’s adventure of epic payoff, and his potential gubernatorial run (as well as Todd’s windfall/immediate poverty), satarize life-changing sitcom endings while showing the wonders of life away from the sinkhole of BoJack and the entertainment industry at large. Diane and Princess Carolyn have lesser versions of this because they still can’t stand to cut BoJack completely out of their lives, especially Carolyn who receives a call from (what is to be assumed be) BoJack’s child.

The finale tackles the impossible issue that’s been plaguing its characters and Hollywoo since the show’s inception: how do you live when the thing you’re good at is self-destructive? Be it acting, as BoJack finds another child actor seduced by the promise of fame, or blogging, like Diane finds when asked to sell out her husband, or managing, like Carolyn falls back into when she fails to leave the business and be happy with her boyfriend. BoJack’s answer is attempted suicide. The more mature characters try their best with what they have. When BoJack sees the horses running freely along the highway, it’s just another nudge away from the toxic lifestyle he’s so good at. Will this be the one that finally pulls him away? Or are they all for nothing?

As long as those around BoJack grow more and more distant, so will his second chances.

Miscellaneous bits:

  • Todd’s asexuality is a perfect reveal. It fits his character and adds depth while not being a huge deal.
  • “I think you’ve got a touch of the ocean madness, Margo.”  Can Aaron Paul deliver every line as every character?
  • Brad’s speed dial is: Mom (home), mom (cell), BoJack Horseman and Pizza Shop.

From AAA TV to Z-movies, Chicago-based critic Jacob Oller (@JacobOller) would like to bring the world together through entertainment, writing about it for publications like The Guardian, the Oklahoma Gazette, and his own blog. He’s a decent impressionist, semi-decent karaoke participant, and terrible dancer, although you’ll have to get a few drinks in him first.

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