Friday, September 15, 2017

REVIEW: 'BoJack Horseman' - An Unexpected Event Forces BoJack to Reflect on Being a Father in 'lovin that cali lifestyle!!'

Netflix's BoJack Horseman - Episode 4.10 "lovin that cali lifestyle!!"

Diane leaks damaging information on Jessica Biel. Todd's clown dentist business hits a snag. Princess Carolyn finds hope in an unlikely place.

"lovin that cali lifestyle!!" seemingly brings to a close a number of this season's major storylines. The election for governor occurs with Woodchuck defeating Jessica Biel. Todd's clown dentist business is rightfully investigated for being a horrible idea that traumatizes children. Princess Carolyn finds a new project to get passionate about that can pull her out of her funk following the miscarriage. These moments happening in the tenth episode of the season largely means that the final two episodes are probably going to be very focused on specific stories - most likely having to do with BoJack, Beatrice and Hollyhock. That makes sense as well. BoJack and Hollyhock still haven't gotten answers as to who Hollyhock's birth mother is. Meanwhile, Beatrice only recognizes BoJack as her son at the last possible second of this episode. Those are the dangling plot threads still left to address this season. Of course, this episode is more than just resolving the storylines that aren't as important to the end game for the year. In fact, this episode is devastating in so many ways while also being very inventive and different with its structure. It's a fascinating episode that shocks the audience right away and that makes us wait a little while to truly understand what's going on and how it's going to affect BoJack and Hollyhock. It's really quite interesting.

At first, the Horseman family is just sitting around the living room table playing a card game. But it's clear something is wrong right away. The audience is experiencing the world as Hollyhock sees it. The past few episodes have been setting up a big reveal that things may not be completely healthy for her lately. And now, the big twist is revealed. She is very disoriented and passes out. It's a shocking way to start this episode. Hollyhock appears perfectly fine to the world around her. She's a little jumpy and quick to judgment. But no one has any reason to suspect that she's about to collapse. In fact, right before she does, she is able to capture a pretty decent picture to send to one of her dads. It gives the impression that everything is going fine for her in Hollywoo when it is anything but that. This is a traumatizing experience. The show just lingers in the uncertainty of that moment as well. Hollyhock collapses and then the action cuts to the various other storylines. It's a little disorienting. Time passes very quickly. This season has utilized time in a very intriguing way. A lot has seemingly passed while nothing has really changed. The characters have grown apart and come back together. But now, they're still dealing with their own plot concerns. That takes priority over finding out what's going on with Hollyhock.

Of course, it's a lot of fun to jump to these other storylines to see how ridiculous they are as they reach their various conclusions. The race for governor is especially hilarious. This has been a much more political and pointed season of the show because of this storyline. It allowed the creative team to address the flaws of the political system in a very blunt and bold way. That continues here with its mocking of just how easily swayed people can be when determining their vote. It's a back-and-forth race between Woodchuck and Jessica Biel for governor. It seems ridiculous to suggest that it's a close race. And yet, that's the reality of the situation because California enjoys electing celebrities to be their governor. But it's great that Woodchuck plummets because his hands are lobster claws and then rises once he switches over to human hands. Then, he dips because those hands came from a pedophile/murderer. That's a really sick and twisted but effective joke. And yet, it all comes crushing down for Jessica Biel because she's caught saying that avocados are disgusting. That's the issue that determines the outcome of this election. That seems absolutely crazy but also in keeping with what this story is. Woodchuck would always be the more qualified candidate for the job. But it's a close race until the end because of how popular the other candidates could be. That just rings true in a way that is both funny and depressing.

Meanwhile, Princess Carolyn and Todd's stories come together in a really surprising way. Todd is feeling the pressure right now to prove that his new business is a good idea and should continue to operate. That depends entirely on him being able to make Yolanda Buenaventura from the Better Business Bureau laugh - a seemingly impossible feat because she wasn't even charmed by Paul Rudd. But instead of really practicing a routine, Todd becomes the new Judah for Princess Carolyn. He's still very effective and gets things done for her. He gets her into a meeting with Lenny Turtletaub with no problems whatsoever. And yet, it's also amusing that he gets so confused about who he is suppose to talk to when Princess Carolyn refers to someone's "gal." But all of this has profound meaning to it as well. Princess Carolyn is just going through the motions of her life. She would rather just stay at home and drink her sorrows away. She's inspired into action because the script she is handed by up-and-coming writer Flip McVicker is entitled "Philbert." It has absolutely nothing to do with the child she just lost. It's an anti-hero detective show. But she just feels an immediate connection to it. Through an elaborate scheme, the clown dentists are able to get her to the meeting on time. That's very funny to watch from a visual standpoint. But the actual meeting gets so much biting humor out of this era of Peak TV. Lenny loves the idea and wants to pitch it to a website called - a website that tells a person what time it is right now. They are looking to get into the original series game. It's an incredibly inside showbiz joke that just worked on me immediately. It's so silly but played with absolute sincerity.

However, it's important to cut away to the hospital eventually as well. The show can't just live in the ambiguity of what happened to Hollyhock. But it does do that somewhat. That's the last time she is actually seen in this episode. Her collapsing on the floor is the big moment that sets everything into motion for BoJack. He's at the hospital wanting an update on her condition. But since he can't prove that he's her father, he can't get anything from the nurse. It's so devastating to him. The two of them have bonded so much this season. He feels like he knows her in such a personal way. He's proud of the woman she has become. She's his daughter but he's so grateful that she isn't exactly like him either. He wants her to be better than him. That's what makes the news of her overdosing so shocking. It's her confirming that she's not so different after all. It's the same patterns repeating once more. BoJack had a good thing going in his life and it was ruined because he ultimately didn't care enough. It's a story that is still able to find its ridiculous comedic moments. That comes when Hollyhock's eight adoptive dads come to the hospital and want BoJack out of her life for good. It's brutal from BoJack's perspective. And yet, seeing all of these personalities together is just completely absurd.

This tragedy with Hollyhock gives BoJack a new appreciation for what it means to be a parent. Sure, he still sees Beatrice as a bad mother because she never showed any kind of love, affection or appreciation. But now, he understands just how difficult a job it actually is. He was completely blind to what was going on with Hollyhock. It was his responsibility to look after her. But instead, she's in the hospital because he refused to see what was clearly a problem right in front of him. Of course, this moment of clarity is followed by the reveal that Beatrice is still the monster to blame in all of this. She's the one responsible for what happened to Hollyhock. She's been putting drugs into the coffee. Her dementia has just really thrown the levels off regarding what's actually healthy for Hollyhock. It's her once again forcing her opinions and beliefs onto someone incredibly impressionable. She wanted Hollyhock to be skinnier and was stealthily forcing it to happen. In that moment, BoJack doesn't care about being a good son. He just wants to punish Beatrice for what she did to Hollyhock. He loves Hollyhock so much that he needs to swiftly deal with this betrayal. It's dark that he's willing to throw Beatrice into the worst nursing home he can possible find. And yet, it's easy to understand his impulse to do so. It's then easy to understand why he stops in his tracks as soon as Beatrice seems to recognize him as her son. That's a moment of realization that is more than likely going to fuel this dynamic in the next episode. It makes it so exciting to press play on the next one right away.

Some more thoughts:
  • "lovin that cali lifestyle!!" was written by Peter A. Knight and directed by Anne Walker Farrell.
  • It was a little inevitable that Lenny Turtletaub would reject every star that Princess Carolyn suggests for Philbert until she lands on BoJack Horseman. And yet, he is able to rationalize it too. BoJack is the star of Secretariat who went missing for over a year only to return in a random appearance on a reality show. It's a show of redemption that could be very relatable.
  • So what were the best hands that Woodchuck has had this season? His normal hands are the expected choice because they go along with everything else on his body. Meanwhile, the human hands are the most practical. That's what allows the gorilla feet and lobster claws to be so great. They are just so random and ridiculous to look at while still played seriously.
  • In the end, Diane did make a difference in this campaign. She just didn't do it by writing a big feature article about how Jessica Biel has been bought off by private prison lobbyists. Instead, the downfall of Biel is because she hates avocados. At least, Diane still gets to take credit for that though. And despite failing in the election, Biel is already moving onto her next endeavor - a perfume called Bielist.
  • A show should only create a fake website in the context of the series if it is willing to buy that domain name in real life. Fortunately, BoJack Horseman did just that with It's a simple website. But at least, it's promoting the upcoming arrival of Philbert as its first original series.
  • The latest sign that Mr. Peanutbutter hangs for the night of the election reads: "Hooray for Woodchuck! And If He Doesn't Win Write So Sorry Woodchuck." Again, this remains one of the best running jokes on all of television. Each one is just so great.
  • Todd: "Oh no! My hooray was premature!"
  • Lenny Turtletaub: "TV pitching is like the Israeli flag. It's nothing without a big star."
  • Princess Carolyn: "Tony Shalhoub?" Lenny: "Tony Sha-whob? This is, not!"

As noted in previous reviews from this show, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.