Netflix Review: BoJack Horseman (USA, 2018) keeps its stride in its fifth season

When any television show enters its fifth season, they can begin to suffer with the fear of repeating old storylines or struggle with finding new, compelling ones to keep audiences engaged.

Luckily, this isn’t the case for BoJack Horseman. Saddle up, because the anticipated fifth season proves that the popular Netflix animated show hasn’t run its course yet. If anything, it uses ‘the past’ as an effective motivator, which is thematic throughout the season, to find new directions for our favourite anthropomorphic characters.

Last season, we discovered the tragic past and life of BoJack’s mother. This season, BoJack is a man(horse) who’s trying to suppress his own clouded history. BoJack’s recurring moments of reflection are triggered by his new acting role as the mysterious ‘Philbert’, whose fictional, narcissistic past and personality scarily reflect his own.

Compared to the dysfunctional and high-functioning binge-drinker we were introduced to back in season one, BoJack is tamer this season, and for the better. After four seasons of mistakes and morally ambiguous decisions, it’s nice to watch BoJack reined in and grow into a semblance of normality for a change. However, just as he’s finally moving forward, the past might be coming back to haunt him.

The rest of the gang – Princess Carolyn, Diane, Mr. Peanutbutter and Todd – are all up to new shenanigans while dealing with their own pasts (and futures) in their own unique ways. BoJack Horseman’s staple tongue-in-cheek humour is in peak form. The show’s depiction of Hollywood (‘Hollywoo’) has never shied away from addressing real-life issues and scandals, and in this season ‘Hollywoo’ is more relevant than ever.

BoJack is also known for its experimental, one-off episodes and this season is no exception. Episode Six, in particular, is a fantastic half-hour of television, just for its creative story-telling alone. Without giving too much away, it’s an episode-length monologue that plays into a character’s pathos and dark humour. It’s truly brilliant.

BoJack Horseman Season Five may not have a strong season-length arc, but then BoJack has never relied on shocking plot twists or cliff-hangers to keep viewers hooked. BoJack is about the character’s journeys and their evolution as people. Underneath all the quirky animation and anthropomorphic characters there are very real human stories.


BoJack Horseman Season Five streams on Netflix from September 14.