Horseman Episode 12 Review
The end of ends like the king of kings.
Why I watched it:
You have to step back and wonder, when you're understanding what the point of a television series is, what themes it's been driving at through the entire series, and what reason it offers for us to spend our hard-earned time in our busy lives on as opposed to one of many of dozens of worthwhile television shows that have been recommended to us over the years.
Having watched the first season of Bojack Horseman throughout its entirety, I can say that whatever it was driving at all fizzled out into a big pool of nothing, much like the end of Neon Genesis Eevee Line Cook, where everything fizzled out at the end and you have to wonder about the fucking point of it all.
I have said multiple times over the course of my illustrious writing career (and it sure is illustrious) that it was never about the ending so much as it was the journey. But, this does not mean we must disregard the entirety of what the series was driving at in order to confuse the audience into demanding another season, because that's just dishonest writing.
My opinion about the ending being no more special than the rest of the episodes was true only of the quality of individual episodes and their stories as a whole. When it comes to a work that relies on an excessively strong continuity and a story that goes throughout the entire season, it is necessary to have a decent ending that wraps everything up, which is a point I failed to bring up in that review - and a point which is very relevant to Haruhi, a series which has entertaining individual episodes and yet makes the entire effort a hell of a lot more worthwhile if you watch it from the start.
The ending of a season or a series is the last, best effort you have to tell the audience why the show was worth watching, what you were driving at the entire time, and who you'll end up missing at the end of the last episode. I understand fully well that the overall quality of each and every episode will lead to the audience being more attached than if you just had a good ending (and too few video games realise this), though if the ending is the last thing you'll ever make, why don't you make something that will prove to the world why you deserve to exist?
The finale of this season of Bojack Horseman was as pretentious as it was nonsensical. While we were fully aware that Bojack was on a bad trip, I have my doubts that we're expected to understand that he forgot the last two months of his life just like that, having done a lot of great shit in the meantime as his friends go to pot and make him look good just out of blind coincidence. What is the audience learning when we're supposed to see Bojack as a complex person, and he ends up getting success handed to him and he just throws it all away? How did we turn this pathetic, pathetic horse into a spoiled brat in the scope of just one episode?
The comedy was okay, and there were some legitimately tense moments by seeing how being fired turned Diane into a total NEET and how Mr. Peanut Butter reacts to her existence after the whole debacle with two months disappearing just like that, and with Princess Caroline apparently fucking a rabbit (a cabbit couple!) and learning she was being cucked (the rare female variation - sorry Princess Caroline), and with Todd finally moving out, just like my prediction. Damn, I'm good.
And despite all of this, it was only when I put down all my biases and started to write this review that I understood the critical mistake that I have made thus far throughout my entire writing career: I was watching the season 2 finale instead of season 1.
Anyway here's my review of Bojack Horseman episode 12.
How it works:
The Gang decides to get their life back together, and seek out new and exciting career opportunities, such as working on the new Secretariat movie, making a Halloween store in January (which was popular enough to get at least three customers), and Princess Caroline finding a new lease on life with her boyfriend Vincent Adultman, who is still three kids in a trenchcoat, and I worry deeply for who the bottom two are.
Despite having the pacing of a midseries episode, like this should have been episode 05 and the first four episodes would have replaced by better episodes from later in the series, this is the season finale. It doesn't feel like it's finishing anything, and more as such leading a lot of plotlines unresolved in the hopes that it gets another season or three. Great gambit, Netflix, but I'm not watching the rest just to see what happens with the whole horse movie business.
I'm not talking much about the plotline, but that's because there's not much at all to talk about. Bojack find things go unexpectedly well with his book instead of predicting his life would go to pot. The business with Diane in the last episode is only brought up at the very end, and isn't used for character drama like I expected it to be. The Gang suddenly forgives Bojack for all the bad shit he did to them in the earlier episodes, and aren't ever brought up again. In between we have some cutaway gags and subplots used for humour and not drama. It should be obvious that this doesn't feel like an ending at all, save for a different ending song.
Was this one of the first episodes in production? Was this their backup plan in case the series got canned halfway through, and this was the safest, blandest ending sequence they could have come up with? Bojack find things going well for him, followed by some token monologues about being a good person inside and how you're supposed to keep moving forward that seem extraordinarily out of place in a comedy show that relies on the characters being assholes to be meaningful, and all of the drama between what Bojack is going to do with his life just disappeared into thin air.
My episode 04 review talked about how it was an idiot plot about people who don't bother to communicate to each other and get shat on because of it. This episode is a reverse idiot plot - the characters act sensible, but the world is incredibly stupid. It feels less like they're driving the story, and more that the story is happening without them and they're just along for the ride.
Bojack wins a Golden Globe for his musical-comedy movie, which was actually Diane's book, so a writer felt the need to say the Golden Globes were stupid at some point in the series, and gets cast in a big movie because of it. Mr. Peanut Butter and Todd distract the plot with a series of stupid business ideas, and everybody comes to their launch parties which they apparently have enough money to throw on a daily basis. Vincent Adultman is still pulling the long con with everybody thinking he's a real person, and while this is all good for comedy, the character is one drawn-out joke in a season finale that could have spent a lot less time on jokes and more time telling a decent story.
Things work out for Bojack for no reason. Things work out for The Gang for no reason. Things work out for the side characters for no reason. The show is not smart enough to take the piss on these points, nor is it an appropriate episode in which to take the piss on. At the same time it tries to be dramatic, it keeps throwing away the drama for a series of gags that feel like they were ripped from the very first episodes of the series - and those first episodes ranged from decent to awful.
The last episode is the proof that the showrunners learned from their past mistakes and have the ability to improve and to make good work outside of the amateur, experimental days of episodes past. If the first episode is a treatise on how quality the season is expected to be, then the last episode is a treatise on how well the season was. So a mish-mashed and poorly executed season finale with a mixture of genuinely funny and sweet moments that wants to be a lot important and intelligent than it has earned the right to be - a reflection of Bojack Horseman, where the sum of all its episodes, the good and the bad, still make a show with a lot of potential, but never does anything with it. Just like the first episode.
How does it work? Barely.
What I felt:
I've spoken before that one of the justifications of a review is to give a sober second opinion about a show that everybody thinks is great, much like the Canadian Senate, except not a worthless and redundant system of government-imposed classism. I understand this show has gotten a lot of praise, but only for the later episodes, supposedly as proof of the "it gets better" formula. It is in this that you may think I'm silly for reviewing a season that I have found to get generally better over time, because this is just pandering to what the general consensus already is.
But it's important to understand what that consensus is used for. If it's a mechanism to admit a show's weaknesses, such as this one being a generic and uninspiring gag-an-episode show, in order to convince viewers to keep watching so that it gets really good later on, then that might just be a justification of people who don't realise that the show isn't all that good, and when people call them out on it, they just say that some parts aren't all that good. Pardon my broad brush, but this is the best explanation I can think of for the generally ignorant masses of people who want to believe that they know things about media, but don't bother to put in the effort to learn and write about what makes a great work, as opposed to just a good work.
Now I'm looking at the "it gets better" trope as something to be ashamed of, and not to bear with pride. If it gets better, then that means it was pretty shit to begin with, eh? To point out the obvious, that is literally the TV Tropes definition of it getting better. Yes, it may be true that Season 3 of a show may invite men to her comfy bed and give out free blowjobs to whoever is willing to cuddle her, but if it involves spending twelve hours walking through Seattle just to reach her front door, then I have my serious doubts that masturbation is a worse option.
While this show wasn't terrible, and indeed had some remarkable portions in it, it kept getting muddled up with needless bullshit. Whether that bullshit is needless drama or needless comedy depended on the episode, but given that this show made me laugh a hell of a lot more than it made me feel for the characters, my suggestion in episode 04 that the show ditch the drama and try to be a comedy was rescinded by me in episode 07, which is still my favourite episode of the series - episode 11 being a close second, and episode 06 being my third.
Well, now I'm rescinding it back. You suck at making series-long stories, Bojack Horseman. Stick to individual episode plots, tighten up the interactions between the characters and have them drive the story instead of having things happen to them for no reason, keep up the absurd jokes that you're so good at, and when it comes to teaching a lesson, favour being down-to-earth and genuinely sweet instead of trying to force your morals into the storyline like they were jokes. And maybe watch The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which does what you're doing a hell of a lot better, for the reasons I just explained.
What I learned:
I'm tempted to compare this to Undertale as another example of the LCD up 1 (lowest common denominator for people who think they're above the LCD), because it is indeed a poorly-designed video game that relies on tried-and-true tropes of emotional manipulation to pander to an ignorant audience, as opposed to forming a solid foundation of story, setting, characters, and sensible game design. When you take off the hype armour, you see the cracks in the foundation of the game, all of which prevent it from being as good as the entire collective Web has declared it to be.
The difference between that game and Bojack Horseman is that, for one, people weren't giving Bojack Horseman the succ and fucc like they did Undertale, whose fanbase is comparable to a slow cancer upon the Web. I've never even heard of Bojack Horseman in any serious capacity beyond the Mysterious Mr. Enter review, because I already had my fill of bara dogs and jerkass horses from e621. For two, whereas people were calling Undertale one of the best games ever released, which even Benjamin Richard Fucking Yahtzee Croshaw declared to be good to the point where it made me wonder just how much he really knows about storytelling, the Bojack Horseman crowd never got that far, nor are they keen to promote such a reputation. You can't even use it to shitpost with. It exists in the limbo between shows that are considered to be the BEST EVAR and are in all the anime three by threes, nor the shows that are considered so unremarkable that they aren't ever brought up, but instead in the grey area of just good enough to get some fans, but not too many.
I have to disagree with even this lukewarm consensus. Looking back on this season, I don't think that it's as smart as people suggest it is. While I can agree with them on the comedy parts, even they aren't the funniest things I've ever seen, and considering that they have to compete with a shitty drama, it makes it even worse for wear. Considering how this was considered to be Mr. Enter's favourite cartoon, I had high expectations for a show which captured the attention of a man who has recommended some truly excellent series to me, but I have to say that, beyond Rick and Morty, this was the worst show that I've seen because of his recommendation.
So the crux of the issue is this: are you okay with dealing with an intrusive drama and dumb plots in favour of getting involved with some incredibly funny moments, with occasional moments of brilliance laced in? Are you okay with dealing with what is, at its core, baby's first attempt at making a serious Western cartoon in the New Tens that is still being weighed down with cultural expectations of what an adult cartoon should be, like the need to satiricise everything and tell jokes on a constant basis as opposed to telling a decent story?
If you want to watch Bojack Horseman, I suggest that you change your mentality to pure schadenfreuden. My gut reaction of this show being a bunch of shitty characters doing shitty things to each other seems to be accurate, so I think I'll keep trusting my gut until it has been proven to be false more times than not. Don't go into it expecting drama, because you'll just be teased the entire way with the promise of a satisfying conclusion which never comes, much like a discount sex massage. If you're going to watch this show, just laugh at the truly absurd situations that the characters get into, don't think about the consequences of what they're doing, don't think about how it doesn't make any logical sense, and assume that every single action is somebody taking the piss.
I know that's a long list of modifiers to attach to a show, which is why I can't recommend it. With a show like Panty and Stocking (which is truly excellent because of this reason), it immediately advertises itself as "TAKING THE PISS HERE MATES", and any expectations of drama means you're a dumbass. It focuses all its efforts on being as batshit insane and as lewd as you can make it, and it focuses hard on the audience that is into that type of content and makes an incredible comedy because of that.
So to summarise whether or not you should watch Bojack Horseman - either treat it like you would Panty and Stocking instead of watching Panty and Stocking, or go into it seriously and be constantly disappointed. For me, that's a resounding "don't bother".
But please bother me - Froghand.
Today's page was updated on September 17, 2016!
No season 2 review - even if it has an owl bae.