BoJack Horseman, the animated dark comedy about a Hollywoo horse trying to relieve his glory days, has continued for five seasons, and we’re still surprised by how damn good this series is. It quietly subverts tropes, breaks barriers, offers thoughtful commentary mixed with truly ridiculous action, and it’s got a running gag involving character actress Margo Martindale. It may just be the most fascinatingly relevant show on TV right now — a label that BoJack would no-doubt love.
All this said, picking the best episodes of this series is like picking the best Hollywood Chris. We all have our favorites, but there really are no bad choices. Still, because a bit of BoJack’s self-inflicted misery has rubbed off on us, we’re gonna give it a shot.
Here are the 10 best episodes of BoJack Horseman, ranked.
10. “Downer Ending” (Season 1, Episode 11)
The Story: Unhappy with Diane’s version, Bojack sets out to write his own memoir with the help of Sarah Lynn, Todd, and a pile of drugs.
Why It’s On This List: BoJack Horseman is a show that regularly deals in drug and alcohol abuse. Both are crutches BoJack uses to avoid responsibility and check out of his own life. Even so, “Downer Ending” felt memorable, not for its drug use necessarily, but for how the writers visualized his trip, using it to fuel a depressing epiphany for its main star. Yes, this harshes the vibe, but before the episode deals out its expected grim comeuppance, we’re treated a visually-stunning, bonkers ride, one with Peanut references and body swaps, stick-figures, tar pits and an unrealized future with Charlotte, one that might’ve led to a happier life were BoJack not so self-absorbed and obsessed with fame.
9. “The Amelia Earhart Story” (Season 5, Episode 5)
The Story: Continuing on her path to adoption, Princess Carolyn returns home and is confronted by painful memories of her teenage self.
Why It’s On This List: Look, most of the episodes in this ranking are BoJack-centered. That’s not a bad thing. He’s the star of the show and the character with the kind of flaws just aching to be exploited. Todd, Diane, Mr. Peanutbutter, they all have their moments, episodes or scenes dedicated to sorting their own sh*t out, but none feel as visceral as the Princess Carolyn-focused segment, “The Amelia Earhart Story.” Up until now, we’ve been given the tiniest glimpses of Princess Carolyn’s character on this show. She’s driven, she endured a rough childhood, and she continues to have a strained relationship with BoJack. “The Amelia Earhart Story” takes this character we’ve become familiar with over the past five seasons and adds a layer to her that not only strengthens her arc, it explains much of her past behavior. We see a teenage Princess Carolyn caring for her drunken mother, dreaming of a life far away from her small town, hooking up with a boy, bearing the consequences of that decision, and then suffering a miscarriage that leaves her feeling like a failure. It’s a wrenching look at female adolescence, but it’s also an opportunity to connect with a character we thought we knew in a more meaningful way.
8. “The Old Sugarman Place” (Season 4, Episode 2)
The Story: Still reeling from Sarah Lynn’s overdose, BoJack goes off the grid, camping out in his family’s run-down summer home.
Why It’s On This List: “The Old Sugarman Place” is a strangely beautiful piece of storytelling, one that manages to connect the inherited suffering of a diseased family through generations. As BoJack returns to his grandparents’ summer house, flashbacks fuse his own self-made problems with those of his grandparents. We finally understand a bit more about Beatrice Horseman. We see her childhood plagued by war, death, grief, depression, and a shocking callousness from her own father that undoubtedly scarred the poor woman, explaining her own treatment of BoJack and, in turn, his treatment of those closest to him. It’s a cautionary tale of nurture, nature, and the sad truth that history often repeats itself.