The Breakdown: ‘BoJack Horseman’ Season 2
“YOU’RE BoJACK. THERE’S NO CURE FOR THAT.”
This portion of The Breakdown is SPOILER FREE.
BoJack Horseman returned to Netflix with 12 more episodes of the dark, comedic storytelling the show loves to dabble in. Last season started off with the run-of-the-mill humor that other animated series pull off just fine, but what made BoJack distinct is the amount of heart it displayed in its later episodes. That trend continues this season, and the feels are sneakier than ever. One moment I’m sitting here laughing at the excellent writing, then minutes later I’m analyzing my own actions. While not everyone will identify with the characters, the way they are portrayed begs for sympathy. This season is all about BoJack improving himself. This isn’t a smooth process, with the road being full of bumps, but what’s left in the end is a real look at these characters with real issues.
There are tons of guest stars sprinkled throughout this season, and they all add quality to their respective episodes. Lisa Kudrow is prevalent throughout the season, and her character, Wanda, does excellent work for the plot. Old characters in Todd, Diane, Princess Carolyn and Mr. Peanutbutter all return with struggles of their own. This season provides these characters with some major development, development rarely seen in an animated series.
The second season of BoJack Horseman does the show justice. I enjoyed the first season quite a bit, and this season stands tall over its predecessor. This show is animated, but it never shies away from going into real, human places (ironically). It’s not afraid to have an episode dedicated to drama exclusively either. This is a brave series that doesn’t hesitate when it comes to risks. It boldly presents what it is.
All 12 episodes of Season 2 of BoJack Horseman are available to stream, exclusively on Netflix.
Now, if you’re looking for further analysis of each episode, continue on.
Each breakdown was written after viewing their respective episodes. The following breakdowns go into detail about every episode. SPOILER ALERT!
“Brand New Couch”
Bojack Horseman returns in what feels like a proper sequel to a first season that meshed so many tones and themes, starting with comedy and ending with a dramatic existential awakening for our titular horse. Season 1 ended with BoJack contemplating whether he was a good person or not. As Season 2 opens up, we are introduced to a BoJack that is obviously wearing a mask of optimism. We are treated to flashbacks of BoJack as a curious foal, watching his hero Secretariat on late night television. It is in these flashbacks that we see the inception of BoJack’s deep depression, caused by his far from Hallmark parents, namely his mom. In the present, Bojack landed his role as Secretariat, and battling his new, born again attitude is his duty to portray a sad, defeated horse. This was a funny bit that ran throughout the episode, especially when he inadvertently delivered the intended line to his normal day associates. Although I’ve highlighted the story beats, which are the dramatics, the comedy and excellent writing was ever present here. I loved the exaggerated destruction of the set after Diane forgot to make sure someone didn’t trip over the wire. Also providing the laughs was the stern, wooden door of a director, Kelsey, who had a soft spot for Todd’s face. Finally, Princess Carolyn’s phone calls to her agent friends, including Rutabaga (a rabbit, played by Ben Schwartz), were some of the highlights of the episode. BoJack Horseman is as funny as ever; Bojack Horseman is as serious as ever.
In enters Lisa Kudrow’s Wanda Pierce, an owl who awakes from a 30-year coma and now runs NBC stand-in NBN. After an opening that saw BoJack’s groupies objectifying his mannerisms and flaws, treating them like classically delivered catchphrases, it was nice to see Wanda bring out opposite behaviors. Outside of pouring pseudo Mountain Dew into pseudo Rice Krispies, Todd decided to build his own Disneyland, which is perfectly legal as the name wasn’t properly trademarked by Disney—instead, they trademarked Diisneyland. The funniest bit to come out this episode was Wanda’s new friend, Alex, whom she met on a date with Bojack and who’s also just awoken from a 30-year coma. Continuing with perfect sitcom material, Alex turned out to be a KGB spy hellbent on destroying the American way. I loved how everyone just nonchalantly brushed over his blatant terrorist threats. Wanda seems to be a great presence on the show. She has a unique perspective on the world and the people in it, viewing them all as characters, relationships and plotlines—and Lisa Kudrow just brings that extra charm.
“Still Broken” gave a look at the current state of the Horsin’ Around cast in the present. The reunion was unfortunately brought about by the death of Herb Kazzaz, the creator of the ‘90s hit. While a lack of comedy rarely hurts this show, the plot this time around was filler. However, I still enjoyed the grounded nature of BoJack Horseman and the range the show has in its storytelling. Henry Winkler, who you may know from a 2002 episode of Law & Order, was a fun thread throughout the episode, as was Princess Carolyn’s false tales of Herb and Mr. Peanutbutter’s false interest. In the more heartfelt aspect of the episode, we got three separate flashbacks featuring the three kids from Horsin’ Around, all with Herb. Each was comedic, but no doubt seeded in heart. In the end, Herb’s legacy would remain in Horsin’ Around, as his manuscript was a steaming pile.
“After the Party”
BoJack is really embracing its “dramedic” tone this season. “After the Party” gave us a triage of relationship drama in three parallel storylines, all following Diane’s unwanted surprise party. The show continues to strut its intelligence. Wanda’s character has definitely been the catalyst for that this season. She is so wonderful paired with BoJack. She is so caring, and I’m guessing that’s a credit to who she is and the 30-year coma. Her outlook on life is fresh and optimistic, and it’s intriguing to see BoJack deal with her positive manner. Other relationships were explored, including the one between Vincent and Princess Carolyn. After nearly running into Vincent on the street, she mistakes the actual Vincent for his son. This led to some fun switcheroos, as Carolyn is fully convinced of such an obvious lie—obvious to us, at least. Finally, Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane had a huge argumentative evaluation of their relationship. The now 35-year-old Diane just isn’t happy with her life. BoJack Horseman played with my emotions in that Mr. Peanutbutter is loyal because he’s a dog, which is haha-very-funny material, but then the quality of loyalty within this relationship and its consequences is explored. While this episode lacked in the in-your-face comedy, the greatly appreciated psycho-analysis of our main players is the treat.
“Chickens” was a great, comedic BoJack adventure. After the very somber “After the Party” episode, this was a wacky palette cleanser, further proving the versatility of these characters. After the two outrageous chicken ads, the story takes off with a careless BoJack watching the ads while driving, leading to a multi-car pile up and a chicken escape. This led to Todd befriending the chicken. As Officer Meow-Meow Fuzzyface enters the picture, the hilarious bits begin. Leave it to BoJack Horseman to derive dialogue from a bawking chicken. I mean, what other phrases/words outside of “Becca, back off, book Beck, BIC, back and Bach” do you really need in your repertoire? After beloving the chicken, Todd, with the help of Diane and Kelsey’s daughter, Erving, had no choice but to give Becc-ah to a farm that would also kill her, but in a good way. Amy Schumer guest starred as Erving, portraying a cynical, Aubrey Plaza-esque teenage girl. It was also nice to see Todd take the lead in the episode. After getting rid of the illegal chicken, he insisted that they go back to save her. All of this ended with Becc-ah and all the other chickens being freed, and Todd, Diane and Erving being arrested. On BoJack’s side of things, he spent the episode trying to get Kelsey to like him. Seeing as BoJack helped get Erving out of police custody, this might make the lead star a bit more favorable.
Leave it to BoJack Horseman to make an episode centered around autoerotic asphyxiation. This was all springboarded by the idiotic and impulsive pairing of Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter’s terrible, financially irresponsible investments. In search for a new job, Mr. Peanutbutter turns to his agent, who ends up “dead” due to hanging in an unfortunate circumstance. Keeping with the story beat of depriving oxygen from one’s body to intensify orgasms, BoJack accidentally said “I love you” to Wanda, followed by a hilarious “no I don’t.” BoJack is really changing for the better this season, remaining true to the character established last season while also developing into a better horse. Driving this development is Wanda. I can’t help but have the feeling that BoJack may screw everything up by the end of this season, which wouldn’t be far fetched given how dark and dramatic this show can go. Taking an idea sparked by his co-star, Coduroy, BoJack pretended to have interest in auterotic aphysxiation to get Wanda to indirectly admit that she loved him by stopping him from performing the act. In the end, the two’s actions said what they both wanted to hear. The storyline I most enjoyed in this episode was Princess Carolyn’s. She had real issues to deal with, and simply wanted to do her job well and have people acknowledge it. Her time with Rutabaga was chuckle worthy, and the movie star speech he gave at the foot of the episode sort of transcended to me as a viewer. The heart in show seems to sneak up on me and gets me everytime. Ending on the same beat the episode opened with was another death by autoerotic asphyxiation (last time, I swear). Corduroy talked to BoJack about his own obsession with the dangerous sexual act throughout the episode, and the worst case scenario was realized as BoJack finds him hanging.
“Hank After Dark”
“Hank After Dark” provided us with some narrative progression for a couple characters. We were briefly introduced to Hank Hippopopalous in the previous episode as the host for Hey, I Think You Can Dance. The episode opened with a 1994 ceremony for the Animal’s Choice Awards, and winning over BoJack and Mr. Peanutbutter was Hank. Flash forward to the present and we have Hank and Mr. Peanutbutter set up with back-to-back game shows on NBN. On another side to this tale is BoJack and Diane. While en route to multiple cities for her book tour, Diane slips in the underlying scandal regarding Hank. This sparks a mudslide of debate and drama. Diane turned everyone against her, including BoJack, partially, and Mr. Peanutbutter, completely. Before I harp on about the ending scene, I did like the back and forth in this episode, with Diane trying to expose Hank. This led to Hank surprising Diane, telling her to drop the accusations and reminding her how big he is and how small she is. Given the connection between these characters, there was potential for major consequences. Diane’s goal of ruining Hank’s reputation reached back to the Wanda-run NBN, the same network that hosts Hank’s Hey, I Think You Can Dance and Mr. Peanutbutter’s Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things? Let’s Find Out. This really hurt Mr. Peanutbutter, as he finally has something great going for him, and Diane could have jeopardized this opportunity. (As an aside, I don’t think Diane was in the wrong. I’m simply pointing out the impact of her actions.) We haven’t seen much of a serious side to his character, but the genuine choice Mr. Peanutbutter had to make was understandable from his point of view. Diane is now on her way to Cordovia, hated as much as honeydew.
“Let’s Find Out”
“Let’s Find Out” was a high point for the season. Mr. Peanutbutter’s NBN show Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things? Let’s Find Out premiered to great success. This entire episode took place within the game show, which was a hoot throughout. The game show itself is a perfect match for Mr. Peanutbutter’s character, featuring ridiculous, unwinnable segments, all prompted by an insane woman’s belching shriek ripped straight from a horror movie. The show was designed to pick on one star and praise another. Given that BoJack was in the former position, his ego got the best of him. Daniel Radcliffe played himself and was the second contestant on the show, the praised contestant. Things got real as BoJack was fed up with being put down and unprofessionally brought up Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter’s troubled marriage. This led to Mr. Peanutbutter airing dirty laundry and revealing to BoJack that he knew he kissed Diane (back in Season 1). By influence of the producers, the two made up in the end, but BoJack’s ego was still inflated. He had won the game, but purposefully forfeited the money in order to get back at Daniel Radcliffe for not knowing BoJack’s name earlier. (So, Elijah Wood didn’t play in Harry Potter?) This episode as a whole felt like an episode of The Newsroom. From the off with the fast talking producers to the back control room during the broadcast of the game show, it all felt very derived from something Sorkan. There were also some fun distractions between Todd and Mia, voiced by Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black. Finally, Wanda was excellent throughout the whole thing, with her satirical behavior of not watching a show, but instead viewing the second screen. Best line: “People on the app are … losing their tits! Oh, no. I stumbled on to a cancer support message board.”
In Hollywoo fashion, the Secretariat movie has been altered to satisfy the masses. For the sake of authenticity and creative freedom, BoJack and Kelsey decided to break into the Richard Nixon Presidential Library for the emotional climactic shot of the whole film. To do this, a team needed to be assembled. So BoJack, Kelsey, Todd, Princess Carolyn, Mr. Peanutbutter, Character Actress Margo Martindale and random cable guy Alan all teamed up to help with the break in. After successfully winning over the guard, aka President Nixon’s estranged son, the shot was ready to be taken. We’ve seen clips of BoJack’s childhood this season and how his relationship with his mother has made him into the horse he is today, so when he can’t cry in front on people while shooting the scene, it’s understood where the inability stems from. It’s not until everything is wrapped up and everyone goes their own way that BoJack is able to release his embargoed emotions, if not for a short period of time. The other plots of the episode were a bit more comedic. The whole reason BoJack was successful is because Todd, Character Actor Margo Martindale, Princess Carolyn and Alan all distracted the police by breaking into the art museum. This wasn’t the strongest portion of the episode, but it did lead to low-accuracy shootout. Ending the episode was the news that Kelsey had been let go for going against strict orders not to shoot the scene in the library. But, in a bittersweet moment, Diane was back from Cordovia and on at BoJack’s door at the episode’s end.
So, a couple Paragraphs up, I talked about how I believe BoJack will ruin the wonderful relationship he has with Wanda. “Yes And” ended with a the two split apart, with BoJack going back to his old love Charlotte and Wanda returning to her sister’s couch. Wanda asked BoJack what happened, and he gave the honest response of, “You didn’t know me, then you fell in love with me, and now you know me.” It shows that he’s very self-aware of his flaws as a character, and has seemingly accepted them. Another line of dialogue I appreciated was Wanda’s response: “Ya know, when you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.” BoJack made his way back to Charlotte after Diane presents BoJack with the think piece of when he was last happy. Rounding out the sad relationship issues was Diane’s own realization that maybe she and Mr. Peanutbutter shouldn’t speak for the time being. Everything’s all sad. Even Todd, our supposed comic relief, ended his plot this episode with a sad montage of BoJack not being their for his first improv performance. But, in happier news, Princess Carolyn and Rutabaga seem to have things running smoothly with their plan to leave Vigor and start their own agency, with both BoJack and Mr. Peanutbutter as clients. That’s happier, right?
“Escape from L.A.”
“Escape from L.A.” picked up directly after “Yes And,” with BoJack in New Mexico face-to-face with Charlotte. What started out as a friendly visit quickly devolved into self-inflicted expulsion of BoJack’s behalf. BoJack’s expectations were over his head, expecting to leave his life of L.A. behind and to start a new one with Charlotte. It’s not until BoJack finds out about “Kyle and the Kids” that that hope starts to diminish. The only one courageous enough to confront him why he was really in New Mexico (not because of a boat show in the state) was Charlotte’s daughter Penny. BoJack has been on a rocky path to self-destruction, and his involvement with Penny in this episode lit a fuse to one of the biggest bombs he’s encountered. After taking her to prom and re-acting out the same romantic activities he assumingly used to do with Charlotte, Penny, 17 (legal age of consent in New Mexico), offered herself to BoJack, sexually. Unwilling to, BoJack rejected, leading him to Charlotte. BoJack acts in self interest. His character hungers for happiness so much that he can’t even fathom someone else being happy not doing what he wants. So when Charlotte rejects him and explains that she has a family, BoJack hits a low. As he returned to his boat, Penny is waiting for him. BoJack completely obliterated his bridge with Charlotte, as she warns him that she will “f**king kill” him if he ever contacts her family again. This was set off when Charlotte catches Penny and BoJack about to have sex. The ride back to L.A. (backed by the show’s signature theme) in his newly named boat, Escape from L.A., encapsulates the fact that L.A. isn’t the problem—it’s BoJack.
“Out to Sea”
“Out to Sea” provided a lot of resolution for these characters that have been looking for change all season. The resolution I enjoyed the most was between Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter. A few episodes ago, Diane expressed to BoJack how much she wished things would go back to normal without the need to explain why she’s back and such. Well, Diane’s wish came true in the end when Mr. Peanutbutter spotted her. Instead of approaching her, he simply called her and asked her to come home from Cordovia. (I absolutely love that Diana’s ringtone is a Serial parody, with Sarah Koenig’s voice and all.) By the way, I loved the opening of this episode, with us getting a split-screen view of an average day in both their lives. BoJack returned following two months in New Mexico. Still swirling within his emotions and alcohol, Princess Carolyn gets the horse-man back on his feet, letting him know that an orphanage has been opened thanks to him. Princess Carolyn also got some resolution, ditching Rutabaga and going solo with this new agency. I liked the two of them together, but in the end, it looked like he would be getting back with his wife. Topping it off with BoJack, things remain bittersweet. Secretariat was a critical success and even has Oscar buzz. But seeing how they finished and then re-did the movie with a CGI BoJack, his praise is undeserved in his eyes. Todd was up and moved out, and it was apparent that BoJack truly needed him in his life; Todd was his friend. In the end, BoJack was reminded by the jogging baboon we saw briefly at the top of every episode to keep jogging. Sure, improving yourself isn’t easy; the hard part is doing it every day, but if you work on it every day, it gets easier.
Has ‘BoJack Horseman’ changed your outlook on life? Do you enjoy the dark themes the show plays with? Tweet me @NerdDotMe. And be sure to follow us @YouNerded.
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