Horseman Episode 07 Review
Princess Caroline and her really nice life.
Why I watched it:
Among all the other things I could have spent hours of my life reflecting on, I feel this is a worthy thing.
How it works:
Today we're watching a Princess Caroline episode! I like her. She's a confident and assertive cat with a professional attitude and with no room for slackers in her life. She's the lady that all ladies should be like, and is a joy to watch her deal with the bullshit of people who are far worse than her.
But that's not the subject of today's episode, so I digress like a sniper in the trees. Bojack shows up drunk on the cat's lawn, gets bitched at, and spends the rest of the episode trying to fuck her. Until the latter half, where he gets a very important phone call and fucks off to Miami. Princess Caroline ends up sitting there with her dick in her hand wondering what to do with herself, with her company going to shit and her career prospects dying out. Fortunately it all resolves itself by the end.
Right then, we can either fill out the bullet points of scenes I liked, and therefore scenes you might like, or I could fuck of with my dick in my hand and tell you to watch the episode and see for yourself what you might like, and then I'll resign because that would make me a fucking shitty reviewer. Digibro said that there are certain things that you can feel that can never be expressed, and I replied (to myself, some things aren't worth a whole damn article about) that only a bad writer fails to express the intangible.
So now let's hitch a ride on a scene where I can do just that. Princess Caroline, after finding her career going to shit and Bojack trying to fuck her, takes him up on the offer and decides to "just be happy". This is a silly idea, and she's wrong for thinking that, but the show never expresses as such. It lets you form your own opinion about her behaviour, and I like that because it means the episode trusts you to make judgements about what it's getting at without expressing it as such.
The two go to a restaurant, and the typical courting occurs. They didn't even need to, but Bojack insists, probably because they both want a storybook experience of a "good time" - namely beer and sex. Bojack then gets said very important phone call, from a dying man he met a very long time ago, and sees him right away. After understanding that the whole date was a gambit to stop two hateful people from trying to be miserable, Bojack leaves Carloine in the dust. That poor cat.
I like that scene. It's a scene where the actions of the characters, silly as they are, are reasonable. The phone call business was foreshadowed obviously, though may not be so to people not familiar with the strong continuity of the series, though occurred at the right time so as to not seem like a deus ex machina on the part of the writers. The consequences of the characters actions are revealed as they go along with the actions, and are never spelled out so much as they are shown.
And I liked the end scene, too - where Caroline finds her empire turning out to benefit her, managing to get Bojack a job despite one hundred and one phone calls to people who hate him, and with the agent she hates (who has that special Steve Job cuntiness of being technically right, but still an asshole) being fired, then calling up Bojack, the man who so desperately wants not to be alone, to not want to talk about anything.
Whatever happened in Malibu was not good for neither him nor Diane. Whatever happened as a result of that very important phone call was a killer, and makes Bojack seem, for all his dickishness, more human that horse. And Princess Caroline, though she works hard for clients who don't deserve her, understand that you can, and this is some wordplay on my part, lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink.
The clock turns to midnight, and her cell phone rings. It's her birthday. Happy fortieth, Princess Caroline.
What I felt:
I talk a lot about simplicity, about how it's a virtue that shows should have, about why it's important to have a simple story, and about how scenes that are simple and yet have a lot of depth to them are ones that I praise a lot. And it's occurred to me that I haven't adequately explained as to why this simplicity, this perfection in removing things until there is nothing left to remove, is a virtue.
There are some obvious points to it. For instance, how adding in extraneous details to a work that doesn't pride itself on those details can create a distracted piece of work, a bit like how my reviews can be distracted with whatever topic I veer into as a result of writing. You can also say that a work that needs to deliver a complex story is focusing on style over substance - the style of having a long and windy plot, or characters with more sides than an infinity die, or animation that features blackjack and hookers, as opposed to the substance of having a damn solid foundation of plot, characters, and art direction that you use as a vehicle to send the messages that you want to send.
Complicating things also runs the risk of creating a vague, unprofitable, or uninterpretable work of art, and a work of art that doesn't send a clear message is no better than the cost of materials being slapped onto a medium. I don't favour technical skill at all, except for when it's used to send a message or to create an atmosphere that nobody has ever seen before. I understand creating a beautiful piece of scenery that doesn't express anything, because then the beauty will be enough weight to give the scenery some purpose. But to create scenery that isn't beautiful and is instead a showcase of all the techniques that the artist knows is a waste of the techniques that they learned over the years.
To simplify things, art is like porn. You know it when you see it. While this depends on the preference of the critic in question and their experiences based on what they have learned and what their intimate biases are, I would much rather have a world where art is defined far more conservatively than it is today, lest we start defining things as metal sculptures of balloon animals as works of art and not a boondoggle of the artist's ability to erect a metal eyesore.
This is not to say that things which aren't typically considered art (television, video games, comic books) should continue to be. The medium has nothing to do with the overall message of the work except for how it's distributed, and what techniques you use to distribute it. This is more about things which could at best be considered taking the piss, and at worst a giant waste of time (such as the aforementioned giant metal balloon animals) that are considered "art" because an arbitrary designation of high-class individuals interpret something far beyond the baseline meaning of the work.
I'm reminded of a piece by Art Spiegelman, creator of Maus, blasting the Museum of Modern Art for showcasing a "high" and "low" culture exhibit, where his medium of comic books was considered to be "low" because of the arbitrary designation of the curators of MOMA. If art is a subset of culture, then how is it fair to classify culture as two separate tiers of quality? If a medium is just a vehicle for messages, then why are you focusing on the medium and not the messages? Why are you the designators of what is considered to be quality, and why are you making people feel bad for enjoying a piece of art that you consider to be worse than another piece just because of the way they were created?
And there's something innately classist to this prioritisation of art as something that is technical skill first, and quality of the messages second. It's like saying that you can be an artist, but only if you meet our arbitrary standards of quality, only if you use these pre-approved methods of distribution, only if you're willing to agree that your art form is inferior to ours, and only if you're willing to focus on the way the work is made as opposed to the messages that they're trying to express.
So the simplification of art is something that all artists should strive for, because the alternative - play a game where the rules are poorly defined and that exist to make artists feel bad for creating art in their preferred manner - is a banal and unsatisfying one, a bit like religion, where you're only a part of it because you're not brave enough to know a life of freedom and instead choose to take your orders by the poorly-defined rules created by the culture police who exist to make you feel bad for not following their arbitrary rules.
Bojack Horseman is learning how to simplify its messages, not trying to make some big, awe-inspiring thing that exists as a gigantic lambasting of the entire entertainment industry and all its belligerents, but instead to create a thing that focuses solely on the feelings of the characters within it and how their life decisions, their personalities, and their relationships with each other define who they are and how they act and why they decide to be the people that they are today.
In this episode, there's no forced morals or heart-to-heart talks or other such dancing cows. It's just the feelings of its belligerents being expressed in a tidy episode with a plot that flows naturally (if not a little bit contrived due to how things just "work out" for Princess Caroline) and we see how the events within affect the characters, and to be able to see them react as their old selves and learn about them is a privilege that more shows should indulge in.
I liked it very much, and indeed this is the best episode I've seen of this series so far. I can even predict it will get better due to the drastic improvement of both this one and episode 06, where all the jokes were funny and the storylines were dramatic and we start to actually care about these characters realistically and not just as a catalyst for jokes.
I guess I was wrong when I considered that this show should drop the story in my episode 04 review. It would have been more mature of me to say that it should instead spend its time trying to improve the story instead of unnaturally throwing one in, because dropping something that has potential to grow instead of watching it grow as a result of the experience earned while working on the show is a short-term solution, and doesn't benefit the show by removing what turns out to be one of its strengths.
Should this show have ditched all the story elements and be more like Seinfeld, a funny show that was really popular yet never did anything insightful or dramatic with its characters? Granted, it was unique, and it affected that horrible, horrible medium of live-action television by having everybody gladly give it a handjob and steal its cum to wipe on their own shows, but when you look at it today there's nothing special or insightful about the messages that it expresses.
Seinfeld did wonders for the format, if you assume that everybody wanting to be like Seinfeld was revolutionary, though if you look at it today, you can't appreciate what it did unless you have a
link to the TVTropes page working knowledge of the history of television up until that point. It isn't like Futurama, where it's still fresh because of it's unique setting in the future, ability to showcase worlds that has never been seen before, and its deep character relationships where everybody bickers, but you can still tell they all care about each other and will have each others backs until the day they die. You just don't find that type of comradery in television.
I'm not going to stubbornly hold onto an opinion if it turns out I'm wrong - save that for the fundies. I will admit that I thought little of Bojack Horseman's story, but now that it's starting to improve by cutting the ingenuity of it all, I will say that I am happy that it decided to stick with its simple, brilliant canon.
What I learned:
It is very hard to talk about the intangible. Not impossible, as I have seen brilliant writers (including myself, a while back) express emotion in ways I never considered before. But then, if expressing emotion is your entire goal, like plasma in that dent between your breasts, then it is an easy goal. It is instead the challenge to make somebody feel the same thing you felt through watching a show, without showing them the show themselves, and help them understand where you're coming from and why you earned certain opinions about that show.
It's not about expressing the intangible. That's easy, once you know how to do it. If you want to know how to do it, concentrate deeply about why you feel something, and understand the physical processes that your body, your brain, and your entire being feels when feeling that particular emotion. Understand the chemicals that you brain releases when it occurs. Understand how sensitive your skin gets. Express how you feel, without naming those feelings.
Don't write about being sad or angry or happy. Write about the needles in the spaces between your fingers and how moving them brings you regret. Write about the glass in your face, and how smiling shatters it and makes you bleed. Write about that pool-ball shaped husk of putty in your lungs, about how talking, touching, understanding, somebody with that same husk of putty, makes it melt into your stomach and lets you whisper it into the ear of who you want to spend your precious minutes with most.
It's easy to express emotion. It's doing so in the context of a review, the context of "this is why I felt this way, and the scenes which did", which is difficult. You have your scarf in a taxi and are trying to run with it before it strangles you. You're reliant on a vehicle to explain how you felt, and it isn't a good vehicle to do so in.
And it's despite these odds that I try.
Today's page was updated on September 10, 2016!
Just to be clear, I do NOT want to fuck her. Not even ironically.