The fourth season of Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman” was just released on September 8. Though the season still follows most of the same characters, it is much different than the previous season in terms of structure and content; it is much darker and separates each main character in a way it hasn’t done before. And while the basic structure of each episode remains the same — 30 minutes long containing a title sequence and an ending theme — each story is told differently.
The first episode of the season, See Mr. Peanutbutter Run, does not have any scenes with BoJack, the show’s title character. Instead, it focuses on all the other characters and how their lives have changed without BoJack. Beginning the season without BoJack says a lot about BoJack and how he treats people. When he’s not around, the people in his life thrive. With such a setup, the audience knows that this season is going to be dark.
Although previous seasons dealt with societal issues, season four takes it to a whole new level. It comments on the 2016 election, gender, sexuality, dementia, depression as well as eating disorders caused by family strife. The show does all of this with narrative experimentation, which has not been done in previous seasons.
This narrative experimentation really begins with the second episode, The Old Sugerman Place, which details both BoJack’s disappearance and his mother’s childhood. It is done through a combination of flashbacks and ghostly characters from the past interacting with the current environment.
The second episode also hints at just how dark the season will progressively become. It tells the past of BoJack’s mother. She used to be a character who merely served as a means to reveal BoJack’s traumatic childhood, but she is given a life of her own this time.
One of the main plot points of season four deals with BoJack’s long-lost daughter, Hollyhock, and her search for her mother. During her search, Hollyhock asks to meets her grandmother. The audience then learns that Beatrice Horseman, BoJack’s mother, is suffering from dementia. Throughout the season, hints about a twist at the end are given through Beatrice’s nonsensical dialogue, which all culminates in the most experimental episode of the season: episode 11, Time’s Arrow.
Time’s Arrow reveals what it is like to live in the head of someone suffering from dementia. The audience sees first-hand all the memories through which Beatrice is navigating. The audience jumps through time with Beatrice, gaining answers to Hollyhock’s as well as BoJack’s journeys.
In terms of internal monologues, there is an entire episode, Stupid Piece of Sh*t, that, for the first time, reveals how BoJack thinks. It provides a different style of animation which, when paired with BoJack’s internal self-hatred, is the show’s way of depicting depression.
Season four plays with audience expectations unlike any other. At the end of the third season, the audience discovered that Mr. Peanutbutter planned to run for governor of California. At the same time, viewers were left with the image of BoJack looking at a bunch of horses running, insinuating that he will join them. Though both of these cliffhangers were addressed, the show goes in a completely different and unexpected direction.
Each season thus far has been unique, but this most recent and experimental one gives new life to the show, branching outside of the realm it has already developed.
Categories: Arts and Culture