Netflix UK TV review: BoJack Horseman Season 6
Nathanael Smith | On 12, Feb 2020
Warning: This contains spoilers for BoJack Horseman Season 6. Not seen it? Catch up with our review of Season 5 here.
“No matter how many starts I get, there’s always the same ending.” So Bojack laments towards the end of Season 6, as reporters close in on an explosive story about his past. That’s the question that lingers over this marvellously melancholic final season: how will things end for one of television’s most irrevocably broken characters? Will it end as it always does, with Bojack doing something truly terrible and spiralling into misery as a result? Or will he have hope?
Bojack Horseman is characterised by never pulling its punches. When you thought its lead character couldn’t sink any lower, the writers would always find new ways to push his depravity. It functioned as a test – how far were you willing to follow a character with a penchant for young women, a controlling, drug-addicted psychopath responsible for people dying? It always ended the same way: badly.
The show occasionally risked stretching this question too far through repetition. It wasn’t a issue of whether we could still sympathise with him; it was a problem of getting stuck for too long in his head. Arguably, after a time, there didn’t seem to be anything new to say about this compelling but repulsive character. He remained both things equally and the audience got stuck with it, feeling at times like we were stuck in a fraying relationship with a monstrous boyfriend.
Season 6 sensibly chooses to mix it up by shifting the origin point of the question that show has been asking. Up until now, Bojack’s dilemmas have largely been internal, as he was haunted by the things he’d done and who he’d become. He wrestled with the demons in his head and lost friends along the way. Now, as his story comes to an end, the pressure moves to an external one, as his demons catch up with him and the world starts to take notice. The final batch of episodes escalates to a point of no return – every sin from his past literally gets written down on a whiteboard at one point. There’s no more hiding. There’s no more lying. Now, the whole world sees what Bojack has done.
This shift makes the final season soar; the introspection is still there but now it turns the question onto the audience, making them participants in his judgement. You know every part of his story, you’ve seen his past and his present – will you forgive him or is he beyond redemption? As the hatred towards him intensifies and the court of public opinion calls upon witnesses, we’re invited to join the mob calling for his punishment. It’s a testament to the show’s writing that this isn’t an easy decision.
The hallmarks of this wonderful, melancholic and deeply human show remain. It’s as inventively animated as ever, while the wordplay only gets sillier and more entertaining as it goes on. There’s real joy, too, in seeing the rest of the characters finally find their feet. It’s been a hard road for Diane and Princess Carolyn and a wacky one for Mr Peanutbutter and Todd, but they’re finally settling on some kind of purpose. Bojack is the last one to catch up and the show tantalises you with the question of how it’ll all end; resolution at this stage cannot be cheap.
So the final episode is, without spoiling it, mostly delightful. There’s a wedding, fireworks and long conversations about family and finding happiness. It ends with a moment of reflection and, as Bojack and Diane ponder their friendship and look towards the future, it’s ambivalent. Not everything gets solved, Bojack doesn’t know if he can trust himself and the future holds many unknowns. Yet for those willing to look for it, for those willing to allow it, there’s the tiniest hint of redemption. And, with it, hope.
BoJack Horseman: Season 6 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.