Saturday, September 9, 2017

REVIEW: 'BoJack Horseman' - Todd Does a Lot of Running Around for His Friends in 'Hooray! Todd Episode!'

Netflix's BoJack Horseman - Episode 4.03 "Hooray! Todd Episode!"

Helpful to a fault, Todd is spread thin doing favors for Princess Carolyn, Mr. Peanutbutter and a visitor with a potential connection to BoJack.

"Hooray! Todd Episode!" introduces an important new character to this season of BoJack Horseman: Hollyhock Manheim-Mannheim-Guerrero-Robinson-Zilberschlag-Hsung-Fonzerelli-McQuack. That's an absolutely ridiculous name that somehow still makes sense in this world. She explains that it's a result of being raised by eight dads who are in a gay polyamorous relationship. That's just something that everyone accepts and is perfectly fine with. That's great. Plus, it's just funny to hear Hollyhock repeat her name over and over again. Despite hearing it several times, Todd still doesn't know what most of it is while BoJack can recite it perfectly after one even though he doesn't know if that's her family or a law firm. That's an amusing joke. But this character also has a feeling of importance to the season. She was actually introduced at the end of last season. She was simply a young horse trying to get in touch with BoJack Horseman through his management team. But at that point, BoJack had already gone missing. It was clearly a setup for a significant story in this season. It always seemed very likely that BoJack had children out there somewhere. He's joked in the past about all the sex he had in the '90s and all the abortions he paid for hoping the moms to be actually went through the procedure and didn't just pocket the money for themselves. But now, one of them has arrived in Hollywoo in search of him. It's a terrifying thought for him because he doesn't believe he should be anyone's father or friend. And yet, this is simply the next complication he has to deal with in his life.

Of course, this episode really isn't about BoJack or Hollyhock. Yes, they play a significant role in it. But it's called "Hooray! Todd Episode!" for a reason. This episode is all about Todd and the many roles he is currently doing. He's always been portrayed as the slacker who goes on these wild adventures over the course of the series. But he's actually the one guy that everyone can depend upon. Sure, he has wild and crazy ideas. He frequently gets into absurd situations and somehow comes out on top with new celebrity and acclaim. But he's a guy who lucks into everything he gets while never actually having that success for very long. He invented a company last season that very easily could have been translated into the real world. Of course, it's mission statement changed over time. But it was still celebrated as a success because of the role it played in the great spaghetti disaster in the sea. It sold for millions of dollars. Todd being a millionaire could have been a very funny and fascinating main story. Todd being the governor of California could have been a very funny and fascinating main story. Both seemed like viable options too. Both could have happened but the show decided to tell a very different but more personal story for Todd this season. He's dealing with his identity and all that he wants to do for the people around him.

Over the course of the series, everyone has always been able to rely on Todd. He is always there to help them. He gets into his own misadventures but he gets dragged into a fair share of them because of the other people in his world too. Everyone appreciates him. And now, everyone needs him. This season feels more ensemble-driven than any other point in the show's history. Everyone has their own unique story. Mr. Peanutbutter is running for governor. Diane is trying to be supportive while making a strong impression at her new job. Princess Carolyn is trying to get pregnant while making an impact as a Hollywoo manager. And BoJack has returned to this world trying to be slightly more aware of his various shortcomings. Todd has his own story as well. He's trying to figure out his sexuality. He wants to know if "asexual" is the best term to use for himself. He wants to figure out how he actually feels about that label. He's been reluctant to use labels because he doesn't want to commit to anything earlier this season. But now, he is being pulled in so many different directions. Katrina has him running various errands for the campaign. Mr. Peanutbutter needs him to distract Diane from the news story he is currently wrapped up in. Princess Carolyn needs him to pose with one of her new clients, Courtney Portnoy, in order to make her seem more down-to-earth and relatable. And finally, Hollyhock needs him to do all of the DNA testing to determine if she really is BoJack's daughter. It's a lot for Todd to juggle in a single day. He wakes up in the morning excited about what the new day will bring. Over the course of the day though, he gets more and more infuriated by all that everyone is asking of him. And yet, he still ends in a happy place of self-realization.

This entire story gets an added element to it as well with the reveal that Todd is also the triangle player at the Hollywoo orchestra. He lucked into the job because he apparently rescued the pregnant daughter of one of the musicians. It seems like this elaborate story that is even told in a different animation style. It's too impossible to believe since the audience knows Todd. And yet, it's easy to believe that he was helpful and the world just wants to praise him as something more than he actually is. That's okay too. They believe he is capable of doing all of these incredible things and being this incredible person. But Todd is frustrated because of all of the pressure. He feels the desire to help everyone because they are his friends. He cares about Mr. Peanutbutter. That's why he hides his heart worm medication in cheese. He does it to ensure Mr. Peanutbutter is around for a long time. He's willing to help Princess Carolyn because she says it's just a simple photo op to help her out of a jam. It eventually gets much more complicated than that. The photo never seems to actually occur. First, Courtney bails on the lunch halfway through. Then, Todd becomes a surprising model at the big Sharc Jacobs fashion show. He completely reinvents fashion. So now, he's a tech millionaire and a supermodel. And somehow, it's still suppose to be believable that he's a simple every day man who can ground Courtney's image. In the end, she shares the news of their fake engagement because of his rise in celebrity even though she still doesn't see him as on the same level as her. But that creates an interesting story for the future. Todd is asexual but also planning a wedding. What could possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile, Todd helping Hollyhock find the truth about her parentage means he has to interact with BoJack again. He doesn't fear that initially because no one has seen BoJack in over a year. He hasn't been around. So, they've all had to go on with their lives. No one has even cleaned up BoJack's house yet. It's still in ruins after his big Oscar celebration. But BoJack actually is back in town. Sure, he's hiding out from everyone he cares about. He spoke with Diane over the phone but she doesn't know that he's back yet. Only Todd and Hollyhock know that. They just stumble upon him passed out on the couch. It's particularly awkward for Todd because he yelled at BoJack for how destructive his selfish tendencies always are. He called him out for always expecting a different result for his cruel behavior. He never seems to learn and Todd had to escape that kind of environment. He's been happy with Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane. He doesn't need a place to crash anymore. He's just doing this for the new friendly face he has encountered. He doesn't want to mend things with BoJack. But he also feels the need to tell BoJack that he is Hollyhock's father. She's not the maid like he has been led to believe. She didn't even clean up the mess. Todd did that. And yet, this moment of honesty is actually good for both of them.

All of this allows Todd to finally say that he is asexual. He's willing to do something for himself no matter what everyone thinks about it. He needs to talk about his feelings to people who understand it. For the entire episode, he teases a meeting he's thinking about going to. It turns out to be a meeting of asexual people. He has the confidence to go there after his interactions with Courtney and BoJack. The two of them are very selfish people who inherently don't understand how they are helping Todd with this clarity over his identity. Courtney doesn't think Todd could possibly relate to her at all. Meanwhile, BoJack is just full of guilt over what he has done to Todd in the past. He's supportive of Todd after he comes out as asexual. He even attempts to relate to it. It's not smooth or natural at all. It's awkward and that's the point. This is the beginning of a new friendship between them. Todd didn't want BoJack in his life anymore. He was happy when BoJack disappeared for a year. But those feelings of friendship are still present in their dynamic. It's not like it once was. Todd doesn't feel the pull to be in BoJack's orbit all the time. Instead, BoJack is left all alone with his daughter. He will either fuck it up or surprisingly rise to the occasion. Either way, he'll have to do it by himself. Todd is too busy caring for his own health and mental clarity which is a nice way to close out the episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Hooray! Todd Episode!" was written by Elijah Aron & Jordan Young and directed by Aaron Long.
  • Katrina has told Mr. Peanutbutter that he can't have opinions on the issues until the polling comes back to tell him how the voters feel. It's a biting commentary on the current state of politics. Mr. Peanutbutter just has to deliver an upbeat and earnest speech to a crowd without coming down on one side or the other in terms of fracking. Of course, the decision is ultimately made for him because Todd signs his name on a piece of paper.
  • Apparently, Princess Carolyn is going to be talking in tongue twisters whenever she is discussing Courtney Portnoy. That will be an amusing recurring joke this season. I'm also intrigued to find out what Amy Sedaris' reaction to that was when she first read the script.
  • Things going wrong at MSNBSea are always blamed on Randy. But here, things take a rather tragic turn with Randy passed out on his death. Tom Jumbo-Grumbo is very concerned then angry that no one called Randy's wife, Cynthia. He does view his staff as a family after all.
  • BoJack reveals that he is next-door neighbors with Channing Tatum, who has been a good neighbor and picking up all of BoJack's mail over the past year. That's a sign of true friendship. And yet, BoJack needs Todd to break up with Channing for him because he believes he'll only cause pain now that he is back in town for good.
  • Todd gives Diane a fake story about Channing having an illegitimate baby who also happens to be a Cordovan refugee. It's just to keep her distracted while handling the DNA testing for him. However, she actually shows up at Channing's house and Todd needs to pretend to be him. Of course, it's sad to realize that the show didn't get Channing Tatum to play himself on the show. But the workaround is pretty great regardless.
  • Todd to Katrina: "I never know if I can handle anything and that's what makes my life so exciting."
  • Todd to Princess Carolyn: "I do like my picture being taken. It's proof that I exist."
  • Todd: "And down goes Todd.... (beat).... And up comes Todd!"
  • Hollyhock: "Ever since I was a baby, people told me I look like BoJack Horseman." Todd: "That's a terrible thing to say to a baby!"

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.