“Bojack Horseman” is created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and stars Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Aaron Paul, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins, Wendie Malick, and Aparna Nancherla. This is the fourth season for the Netflix original series, with this season showing the titular character continuing to struggle with inner demons, but now while also having to deal with family and loneliness, all while Mr. Peanutbutter runs for governor, Princess Carolyn tries to have a baby, and Todd discovers his sexuality.
“Bojack” is truly one of the greatest shows on television today, as both seasons 2 and 3 showed incredible amounts of pain, struggle, and loss, and all while boasting gorgeous animation, a witty script, and a substantial amount of humor. Simply put, there is no show that does what “Bojack” had done in its past two seasons, so of course I was very excited to dive into this new season, as this has been a series that has only gotten better as it has progressed.
Once again, the voice performances from the entire cast are absolutely sensational, with Will Arnett bringing the titular character to an even more developed state than the season before it. Bojack continues to reveal more and more about himself as the seasons move on, and Arnett’s vocal performance really captures the anger, the depression, and the occasional optimism within this character. Amy Sedaris as Princess Carolyn makes major strides forward, as she gives her most impactful vocal work to date. Carolyn grows and changes more than ever in this season, and I loved what Sedaris does with this character. Alison Brie and Paul F. Tompkins are still great as Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter, as is Aaron Paul as Todd, as all three give their characters life, and continue to make character development easy and seamless each season.
While these major characters have been great for the past few seasons, as have their voice actors, both Wendie Malick and Aparna Nancherla quickly stood out as highlight characters in this new season. Malick as Bojack’s mother, Beatrice, may just have the best vocal performance of the entire cast, as her character truly goes into places I would have never expected, and I found her performance to stand out within a group of phenomenal actors. A lot of the same can be said about Nancherla, who voices a new character named Hollyhock this season, and while I was not sure of her at first, both her character and her performance became some of the best moments of the second half of the season, and her chemistry with Arnett is undeniably terrific.
As with the majority of this show, “Bojack Horseman” continues on into season four with a blend of silly humor, cheap puns, and hysterical references, all combining with powerful themes of feminism, family, depression, neglect, and sexuality, and it all comes together with almost complete success. These themes are most effective within Bojack, but I also found Princess Carolyn’s themes to be brutal and heartfelt, while I loved Todd’s shenanigans combined with a true sense of identity finally coming to fruition. Hollyhock faces a lot of inner turmoil, and Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter’s marriage continues to create brutally impactful moments on their own. Somehow, someway, “Bojack” manages all of these different concepts and plotlines, and makes a very beautiful storyline that is funny and emotional at the same time.
There are many highlight episodes throughout the 12 new ones that season four has brought us (Light spoilers ahead for these episodes I will be discussing.) “The Old Sugarman Place” has Bojack literally building up his past, which eventually leads to him realizing that he must return to LA. This is a great episode that has some very important flashbacks and introduces Joseph Sugarman, voiced by Matthew Broderick, a character that gets increasingly important as the season rolls on.
“Hooray! Todd Episode!” follows Mr. Chavez around his various random tasks in Hollywoo, and I think that it is an excellent mix of comedy and strong themes, as this is the first time that Todd really begins to grow into this character that eventually actually means something to the story other than his ridiculous side quests.
“Stupid Piece of Sh*t” uses a very cool concept involving the inner workings of Bojack, and it makes for an episode that definitely stands out from the bunch in all of the right ways. This is the episode that develops Bojack’s inner demons and consistent struggles the best of any this season, and it is all performed wonderfully by Arnett.
“Ruthie” has Princess Carolyn as the main character, and is centered around a future ancestor of hers discussing this truly awful day that Carolyn goes through. It is yet another beautifully executed concept, and has Carolyn at her most vulnerable, and, at the same time, most relatable, as this is one of the most emotional episodes of the season.
I could write an entire review on “Time’s Arrow” alone, as it is, without a doubt, the best episode in the series to date. Not only that, I would go as far as saying it is one of the best directed and well-made TV episodes I have ever seen, and I will get into why in a separate analysis coming in the near future. Episode 11’s have never disappointed in a Bojack season before, and this magnificent episode continues that trend.
“What Time Is It Right Now” is almost definitely my favorite season finale of the show thus far, as it has each character at very different points, emotionally, but each is as emotionally poignant as the next. Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter are left at a very interesting place with their marriage, Todd continues to come to terms with his sexuality, Princess Carolyn works very hard for a passion project to come to life, and, for the first time all show, we are left with Bojack legitimately doing the right thing, and legitimately being rewarded for his actions. The closing moments are chilling, and the final shot left me with tears in my eyes.
There are a few episodes where I was not fully on board with exactly where the show was going. The episode “Underground” is probably the best example, as while this isn’t a necessarily bad episode, it felt much less entertaining and less emotionally impactful than pretty much any episode of the season. The same can be said about the opener, “See Mr. Peanutbutter Run,” but this one was more forgivable as it was meant to be more light-hearted and funny rather than starting right away with the emotional gut punch this show is known for.
While most of the themes and relevant topics that “Bojack” portrays are incredibly well done, there was a few this year that I thought were less successful in their endeavors. For starters, the “Thoughts and Prayers” episode takes on gun violence, and while I fairly enjoyed the episode, to me it did not feel like a strong satirical effort to really attack what is such a massive topic in today’s society. The major plotline that I never fully fell in love with was the one I was most excited about coming in, and that was Mr. Peanutbutter’s attempt to run for governor. I thought this had loads of potential for incredible satire on our political system, and there are, of course, moments of this scattered around from episode to episode. Still, I never found this storyline all that interesting or all that witty, and while I loved Tompkins, Brie, and both Lake Bell and Andre Braugher in their supporting roles, I thought the satire was a tad lacking by “Bojack” standards.
“Bojack Horseman” continues to be one of the most unique, hilarious, and emotional shows on television, and this season proves that this show is truly special. The performances are spectacular, the writing is exceptional, and the concepts for each episode are consistently fresh and surprising. Will Arnett and Wendie Malick deserve awards recognition for the performances they give here, and while this may be a slight decline from the masterpiece that is season three, it is the slightest of declines. Please check out “Bojack Horseman” if you have not yet because you are missing out on one of the most impactful shows on TV.
What did you think of “Bojack Horseman” season four? Comment below with your thoughts.