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– by Brian Jasper

“Best” is a special term among fanboys, nerds and afficionados today. Immersed as we are in geek culture – with superhero shows, adaptations of our favorite books, and cutting remixes of sci-fi and fantasy themes all over the place – “best” has become a word both overused and reverential. Everyone has a few “bests,” and despite “best” meaning “one thing better than all others,” nearly all of your friends have several best movies, best friends, best shows and best heroes they can name in an instance.

The internet media, that rapacious gaggle of parents’ basement-dwelling typists, are in on it, too. Top 10 lists can be found on almost every media website on a daily basis and I, for one, will admit to being a part of this industry of list producers. In lieu of giving you some sort of “best of” list of my own this week, though, I’ll simply cry out to my fellow bloggers, “Add BoJack Horseman to yours.” Which “best of” list? Eh, let’s just make it easy and say all of them (where common sense allows).

Best animated series? Yep, throw BoJack on there. Rick and Morty is the flavor dujour (that’s blog speak for “of the day”), and it has every right to be. Though I rarely catch a first run episode, that show is geeky in the best way, picking up the baton from Futurama and hoverboarding away with it. After Rick and Morty, though, what do we have? South Park? Sure. Archer? Definitely, but falling behind. Simpsons? Only if it’s an “all time” list. BoJack Horseman, though, is better than all of these shows. It’s the one show on that list that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Rick and Morty’s and mainstream dramas and comedies. It’s also the one animated series that uses its form not to deal with its subjects in abstract, but to put its oft-serious plotlines in contrasted focus. Animal-headed people may populate the screen, but it’s only to put their very human heartache in sharp relief. I don’t need backup on this point, but even before the very excellent Season 4 released, Indiewire already placed BoJack at the top of their animated series list.

Best cast? It’s no secret that actors love doing voiceover roles. They are easier and quicker than acting gigs and pay well, but with the tradeoff of anonymity. Archer perhaps has the most well-known animated voice cast and it’s one that would stand up to live-action series casts too, such as the epically good casts of Arrested Development and Parks and Recreation. Will Arnett (Arrested Development) kills it as BoJack, but no less effectual are his array of sidekicks, including Amy Sedaris (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Alison Brie (Glow), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), and Paul F. Tompkins (Bob’s Burgers). In the fashion of The Simpsons, the list of guest stars is long and distinguished: Keith Olbermann, Patton Oswalt, J.K. Simmons, Angela Bassett, Stanley Tucci, Margo Martindale (!) and many, many more.

Best television show? Is it “the best” television series? Maybe, although there is a lot of competition for that spot. Should it be on the list? For sure. The best comedies work because they either help us laugh through our tragedies (The Office, Master of None) or point out our absurdities (Family Guy, South Park). BoJack Horseman does both, utilizing deeply developed characters to work at the former against a world populated by animal-people hybrids for the purpose of achieving the latter. BoJack works exceptionally well as a drama, also (although I wouldn’t ever put it in that category). The relationships – goofy as they appear at the outset — are heartachingly poignant and exist over the course of multiple episodes and seasons. Diane’s struggle with her marriage to Mr. Peanutbutter (yep) is as real as a show can get. When Princess Carolyn dates Vincent Adultman, in Seasons 1 and 2, we laugh at how over-the-top silly the relationship is, but Princess Carolyn’s real struggle with relationships, all the hope she puts into them, her effort and investment, nearly brings tears as it falls down around her. We share the agony of that hope in a way that is more approachable through a cartoon than if we were seeing real people and real pain.

BoJack Horseman Season 4 was just released a couple of Fridays ago on Netflix. It’s hard to know how well shows are doing on Netflix since the streaming giant doesn’t release viewing numbers, but I think it’s safe to assume it’s been doing something right. So why the need for this article? Well, the 2017 Emmy awards were last night, and BoJack Horseman didn’t get a single nomination. The people behind the Emmys ought to be put in Alcatraz for that level of disrespect. Netflix itself may be to blame, also. We are all hyped for Stranger Things (as we should be) and every Marvel show — good or bad — is promoted heavily, but I saw nary a thing to let me know that BoJack was coming back on. AMC has struggled to draw attention to Halt and Catch Fire but sticks with the show because of their belief in it. BoJack could very well be one of the all-time greats, but Netflix, with a lack of promotional chutzpah, is content with the show’s relative obscurity. That, my friends, cannot stand.

Agree or disagree? Let me have it in the comments below or over on Twitter at @LRM_Brian!

  • Kronx

    I’ve seen too many great shows overlooked to care about the Emmys anymore.

    As for Bojack, I haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet. It’s on my to watch list.

    But to be honest it looks ridiculous, and when I see images of it I don’t think, “There’s a show that’s emotionally nuanced.” So it definitely needs a better marketing strategy.

    • LOL you’re right! It doesn’t look emotionally nuanced! I’m not sure I’ve ever looked at a cartoon and thought that, though, so I’m wondering what about it isn’t drawing in people like other cartoons. One thing, I think at least, is that you don’t see “bits” of the show advertised like you do with R&M or South Park. Again, Netflix doesn’t seem to be promoting the show.

  • SeanDon

    It’s an interesting show for sure. I haven’t watched much of this season yet; but heard it got “darker” and more intense this season.

    I’d throw Bobs Burgers on my list of best animated shows. Definitely a different show compared to Bojack however.

    • Kindofabigdeal

      This season is as dark as it gets. But usually how Bojack gets the short end of the stick, he actually grows as a horse and has a light at the end while everyone else is left in darkness. Enjoy, I know I want to rewatch the series again.

  • Kindofabigdeal

    I recently discovered Bojack earlier this year. I wanted something else to watch since It’s Always Sunny season ended. I decided to give Bojack a try because I love me some Will Arnett. But something happened. It hooked me. It is especially well put together unlike the lackluster South Park season premier.
    Bojack is sympathetic and unsympathetic at the same time. At the end of last season when Todd tells him off hit really close to home for me. The fact that it’s overlooked is a travesty.

  • CoolHandJuke

    times arrow marches forward…

  • Victor Roa

    that art style is like knives to the eyes. I mean Ricky and Morty isn’t a pretty picture but their animation is beyond amazing like the Parasite death animation.

  • Ben Alexander

    has a great theme song that’s for sure