BoJack Horseman is a Netflix series about an anthropomorphic horse who used to star in a hit sitcom. Unable to make sense of his stagnant post-celebrity life, he develops depression, alcoholism and a tendency to drive all his friends away. In my opinion, it’s as close to perfect as a show can get. I have one issue with it, however, and for today’s blog entry, I’m going to bring it up with BoJack’s dad. Of course, I’m not talking about the character’s in-universe father (though I have a few things to say to Mr. Butterscotch Horseman too). No, this is a letter to his real-world creator, showrunner Raphael Bob-Waksberg. A formal, respectful criticism of his masterpiece of a series. Hope you enjoy, fellow fans! And for those of you who have yet to venture into the BoJack Horseman universe (BoJackverse? Unihorse?), next week’s post will be a tad more universal 🙂
SUBJECT: REGARDING CARS IN BOJACK HORSEMAN
Dear Mr. Bob-Waksberg,
I am a massive fan of your show BoJack Horseman. Not only does it manage to balance profound character study with irresistibly silly comedy; it also excels at social commentary. The writing pokes fun at both sides of all current debates, and yet it never wavers in its support for all that is good: gender equality, LGBTQ+ visibility, socioeconomic justice, and so on.
However, there is one matter that the show has yet to seriously tackle: the environment. The fourth season’s critique of fracking was commendable (and hilarious), but besides that, I have found the climate awareness in BoJack Horseman somewhat lacking. I do not mean to criticize you personally for this; naturally, it is not the responsibility of the showrunner to have their series address every imaginable global issue. But with the threat of irreversible climate change ever growing, we must all ask ourselves: what can I do to help? And I believe that a critically acclaimed and hugely popular Netflix series can do a lot to help.
My suggestion is that you start with the cars. Throughout BoJack Horseman, just about every main character is frequently seen driving a car, and it is hardly ever presented as problematic. Some characters will never quit driving, of course; BoJack himself could not be bothered, and Mr. Peanutbutter is, to paraphrase his own words, an old dog who isn’t going to change. But other characters could easily ditch the car without it feeling contrived. Perhaps the idealistic and strong-willed Diane could resolve to only drive when it is necessary. Maybe Princess Carolyn, humbled by the joy of parenthood, could start taking the bus to work. Todd’s next big enterprise could be a moving company that only uses kick scooters.
How explicit you make the change is of course up to you. I would personally love for the show to tackle the subject of climate change head-on with its signature blend of satire and sincerity, but you could also choose to keep it subtle. Brief mentions of CO2 pollution and occasional biking scenes would go a long way (and it would not be the first time the show practiced casual representation). What matters is that more sustainable means of transportation are regularly presented to the viewers. As Diane puts it in the episode ”BoJack the Feminist”, pop culture inherently normalizes things. Would it not make sense for BoJack Horseman, one of the most intelligent pieces of pop culture in recent years, to normalize a car-free lifestyle?
As the creator of an excellent, universally beloved show, you have a unique opportunity to inspire change. If you took a stand for the environment, implicitly or explicitly, I have no doubt that viewers all over the world would follow suit!
With respect, admiration and hope,
The Thinking SJW