A lot of the coverage of BoJack Horseman centers on its depiction of depression and its willingness to go to very dark, very real places. This is fair, because BoJack Horseman does all of those things, in a way few dramas do better and few comedies do at all. (One notable exception being FX’s You’re the Worst.) But sometimes I fear that what’s lost in that discussion is the fact that the show is also profoundly funny, and at times profoundly silly. It features a character named “Vincent Adultman” who is very clearly two children inside a trench coat. It does the best work in the field of Jokes Contained In Signs And Background Images of any show since the heydey of The Simpsons. It never skips over a chance to make a dumb animal joke, even if it has nothing to do with anything going on in the rest of the episode. BoJack Horseman contains multitudes.
Those multitudes are on glittering display in the show’s third season, which picks up shortly after the end of season two. Everyone is in a surprisingly good place. BoJack (Will Arnett), the formerly washed-up star of a Charles in Charge-esque ’90s sitcom, is basking in the glow of Oscar buzz for his role in a film about Secretariat. Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), his feline agent, is flying high running her talent agency. Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), his golden retriever friend/nemesis is… well, Mr. Peanutbutter is always in a good place, even if he and his human significant other, Diane (Alison Brie), are struggling a bit to settle into domestic bliss. Hell, even Todd (Aaron Paul), BoJack’s unshaven doofus roommate, has some decent things going on in his life.
But if the first two seasons were about people (and, uh, horses, and cats, and dogs) struggling to find their place in the world amid failure, season three shifts course to see them struggling to find their place in the world amid success. BoJack, especially. He had a self-destructive streak that caused him problems even when he had very little to actually destroy. And the result of it all is a deeply affecting journey that touches on everything from detachment to co-dependency to loneliness, and doesn’t pull many punches when doing so. The fourth episode of the season is an almost dialogue-free nod to Lost in Translation that is one of the best and most touching episodes of television I’ve seen all year, and it’s stuck with me for three days now.