Wow. Every time I think BoJack Horseman can’t get any better, it goes and tops itself. Season 5 of the show truly reaches new heights with incredible writing, acting, and directing.
I can’t recall another show, let alone an animated one, that holds up a mirror to society the way BoJack does. And so damn accurately, might I add.
And while BoJack does a great job of covering work harassment, and what it’s truly like for women, it would be a disservice to the show to ignore everything else it covered this season. So let’s get into it.
Male Feminists (Particularly Male Feminist Celebrities)
Plot: BoJack Horseman the feminist! When Bojack, accidentally finds himself accidentally taking a stand against a misogynistic actor, he revels in the attention that comes with the label “male feminist.” He’s encouraged by Princess Carolyn and Diane to spread the feminist message because they believe the public will be more likely to listen to a man than a woman on the topic.
Analysis: This episode couldn’t be more on-point. Princess Carolyn and Diane are so right here: unfortunately, the public is more likely to listen to listen to “male feminists” and even celebrates them as if they are superheroes. But these so-called “feminists” don’t even come close to earning the label.
So often, men trying to pass off as feminists in Hollywood are using the platform for good PR, are focusing way too much on themselves, or both (ahem, Matt McGorry from OITNB).
Yes, we do need people with privilege to shed light on issues because they do have the platform to do so. But so often they monopolize the issues, rather than focus on those who are truly affected (see: white feminism).
BoJack precisely portrays this situation. Well done.
Plot: Last season, Todd came out as asexual (hooray!) and has since embraced and celebrated his sexual identity.
This season, he starts dating an asexual woman but things aren’t going so well. The main issue: the two have absolutely zero in common except that they happen to be asexual.
Analysis: There are so few out and proud asexual character on TV that just the fact that Todd had that plotline last season was amazing. But to continue it in season 5? So wonderful.
Although studies say that asexuals are only 1% of the population, there are so many different categories under that umbrella: asexual romantic, asexual aromantic, demisexual, etc.
And there are totally asexual people who are interested in having romantic relationships. But just because there are so few asexuals out there, doesn’t mean they should have to settle for the first ace person that comes along. Ace dating is freaking hard. Most dating apps are not ace-friendly. So how do you meet someone?
Single Motherhood as a Choice
Plot: Throughout the season, Princess Carolyn is trying desperately to adopt a baby on her own. The problem? Nobody wants to give her a baby. One pregnant woman turns her down because she believes Princess Carolyn is a workaholic and will, therefore, be a bad mother. Another mother doesn’t want to give her baby to a single woman.
But when Princess Carolyn finally gets her chance at a baby, she makes an incredible speech about how strong she is and how much she will love this baby. And even when her ex-boyfriend offers to get back together and raise the baby with her, she says no.
But her speech is so incredibly inspiring that the birth mother takes the baby back, believing she too can raise the baby by herself. And Princess Carolyn remains childless.
Analysis: Society is not kind to single mothers. And the idea that someone would choose to be a single mother? Inconceivable.
Single mothers by choice face a lot of issues on the road to having a baby: finding a sperm donor, a possible surrogate, or a birth mother willing to let her adopt a baby is much more unlikely when you’re all alone. We’re raised to believe that a baby should have two parents. But that doesn’t mean that women aren’t strong enough and badass-enough to raise a baby on her own.
The Dilemma Faced By Women About Speaking Up
Plot: I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the sexual harassment and assault storylines (yes, there’s more than one) throughout the series. Perhaps the assault plot that struck me the most was with BoJack’s co-star/girlfriend Gina (played by the amazing Stephanie Beatriz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine). While hyped up on painkillers, BoJack accidentally strangles Gina on set. Luckily, the crew stops him and she survives.
After BoJack later sees the footage and realizes what a horrible thing he’s done, he tells Gina he wants to come clean to the public.
But she refuses: She insists it will ruin her career just as it’s taking off. That she’ll become “that girl” who was assaulted by BoJack Horseman.
Analysis: I have heard so many women say exactly the same thing: they don’t want to report their assault because they fear it will damage their careers, which often does happen.
Many men like to harass women online and complain that women don’t speak up enough and then when they do speak up, they claim that they’re liars and are ruining the man’s career.
But it’s the woman whose career is damaged.
Watching this plot play out, I immediately thought of one woman who has faced the extremes of this: Anita Hill.
She was brave enough to call out Clarence Thomas and even testify (an incident that very well may repeat with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is accused of sexual harassment).
But even though Anita stood up for herself, and women everywhere, she was the one who faced the ultimate consequence: the public called her a liar and attention whore and her career suffered for years.
And Clarence Thomas? He’s currently a justice on the Supreme Court.
The choice is real for women: call out their harasser, who risk their hard-earned careers. What would you choose?
Addiction in Hollywood
Plot: After BoJack attempts his own stunt and gets badly hurt, he’s prescribed painkillers. And that’s when everything goes downhill.
He quickly gets addicted and spins out. And by the end, he’s so high that he can’t even tell the difference between reality and his TV show Philbert — which, to be far is remarkably similar to his real life.
Analysis: Episode 11 of the show is entirely dedicated to BoJack’s demise and is perfectly done. (I personally found it to be the best episode of the entire season). As the viewer, you see things through BoJack’s eyes and life so seamlessly goes from reality to TV that it’s hard to tell, even for viewers.
Addiction is obviously something that hits Hollywood hard. We know so many amazing actors that have died from overdoses and it was only a matter of time before BoJack found himself addicted to some sort of drug.
But Hollywood is toxic. And addiction is a disease. Once you go down that rabbit hole, it’s hard to come back from, but it’s not impossible.
The last scenes of BoJack Horseman season 5 show BoJack going off to rehab. But we’ll have to wait until season 6 to see how he fares.
What did you think of BoJack season 5? Tweet us @femestella to tell us your thoughts.