Season five of BoJack Horseman was a timely and boldly executed rumination on accountability in a new culture that demands it. Always self-critical and with fingers on pop culture’s pulse, the show seemed the perfect candidate to explore issues brought to the forefront recently via BoJack’s self-destructive lifestyle and addiction issues. If last season was about holding up a mirror and seeing the cracks in its reflection, season six asks the question of what to do about them once they’ve been acknowledged.
Season six begins with BoJack’s stint in rehab. He’s the same wise-cracking and defensive character we’re familiar with, but there’s something different; he’s sober. For the first time, there’s a long period where he has nothing to do but think, and it’s making a difference. There’s a subtle maturity and change around him that’s refreshing to see, and it makes us wonder where he might be going next in his life.
His past, in the form of his parents, Horsin’ Around, and Sarah Lynn, still haunt in small flashbacks, but instead of melancholy remembrance, they seem to have a different purpose here: providing a clear explanation for the man BoJack has become. These flashbacks have always brought information that could easily be put together, but the way they’re edited into season six suggest that BoJack is realizing he’s always known the root cause of his problems, and he can remember them vividly enough to pinpoint the moments things started going wrong for him in regards to substance abuse.
While Bojack gets his life together in rehab, the rest of the gang deal with their own problems. Todd is… well. He’s Todd. Mr. Peanut Butter is reeling from the consequences of cheating on his girlfriend, and Princess Carolyn is too busy and stressed to enjoy motherhood — which is portrayed beautifully in a frantic episode that utilizes colorful montages to show how little time she has for herself.
Diane is off making short documentaries about capitalism and climate change. Her understandable need to tackle all the bad in the world is realistic in the sense that it’s both necessary and self-defeating. She has to care, we all do, but there’s so much of the bad that it starts to weigh her down until there’s no room for the feel-good stories her boss wants her to produce. In our current sociecty this feels like an appreciative nod to all the Millenials out there panicking about what our Earth will look like 50 years from now, and worrying about what they’re not doing enough of. The time spent with Diane is cynical yet funny — and has enough pointed jokes about work-related deaths and media monopolies to let you know exactly what it’s criticizing.
After catching up with all the characters we return to BoJack’s transition out of rehab, which isn’t easy for him. But he’s reminded by a therapist at his rehab center that he has a great support system. Once BoJack is around his friends again, more of the show’s humor comes back into play, and it’s reliably funny. BoJack Horseman has always balanced comedy and the melancholy so well, and season six is no different. There’s a much calmer vibe around the episodes than what we’ve seen in the last couple of seasons, but the juggling of tones is still seamless.
Part one of season six doesn’t feel rushed in the way many shows end up being as they try to fit their ending around an unplanned cancellation; instead, there’s a natural winding down of the calamity of the character’ lives. BoJack Horseman is one of Netflix’s consistently strong shows, and there’s no indication it’ll let us down in the home stretch.
Season 6 launches October 25th on Netflix.