BoJack Horseman, a depressed and declining celebrity far-removed from his hit ’90s sitcom Horsin’ Around, sits on the deck of his cliffside mansion in Hollywood. His housemate, Hollyhock, a teenage horse who traveled from Wichita, Kansas to Los Angeles to let BoJack know he might be her father, is riddled with anxieties as she hangs her legs off a pink reclining chair next to Horseman.
“That voice, the one that tells you you’re worthless and stupid and ugly,” says Hollyhock as she bares her soul to her possible dad. “It goes away, right?”
BoJack himself plagued by the grasp of mental illness that beats like the desert sun and darkens with the grayest of clouds, shields the truth with an affirmation as thin and insubstantial as the stilts which hoister his home during a California earthquake.
“Yeah,” states BoJack, as he stares brokenly at the ground below him.
Season four of BoJack Horseman, the Netflix original series that takes place in modern-day Earth with an anthropomorphic twist, is as emotionally devastating as ever. The previous exchange between BoJack and Hollyhock, which occurs at the end of “Stupid Piece of Shit”, emphasizes the show’s need to be a work of animation. Its content, which includes depression, anxiety, dementia, body image, infertility and mass shootings in season four alone, is painfully real and only slightly less stingy because it’s happening to a half-man, half-horse.
The run for governor by Mr. Peanutbutter, the affable, dimwitted star actor/dog/human who has zero political experience, mirrors the rise of Trump. “Underground,” the seventh episode of the season, shows the inherent evil of humanity in a way that would make William Golding proud. Episode five, “Thoughts and Prayers” makes us all feel shitty for doing nothing other than tweeting our respects after incidents of domestic terrorism.
Humor, coming from obscure references and brilliant writing, is used in doses to provide relief. PB Livin, the constantly failing company co-founded by Mr. Peanutbutter and Todd Chavez (BoJack’s former housemate), makes a triumphant return with the horrific business plan of clowns as dentists or vice versa. BoJack and Hollyhock let loose on the topic of honeydew, and how not a single person exists that actually wants the melon as the fruit cup centerpiece that it often is.
As the season’s finale winds to a close, BoJack finds himself back on the deck of his massive mansion speaking to Hollyhock on the phone. Their conversation, which I will not reveal for the sake of spoilers, leaves BoJack with an ever-so-uncommon jovial face. While Season four doesn’t have an obvious standout like the breathtaking “Fish Out of Water” episode from season three, its message is unrelentingly accurate. The world, whether filled with anthropomorphic horses, or you and me, is a dark place, to which only we ourselves can provide light.