Thursday, September 14, 2017

REVIEW: 'BoJack Horseman' - BoJack Is Surprised by the New Show He Appears On in 'The Judge'

Netflix's BoJack Horseman - Episode 4.08 "The Judge"

Hollyhock starts dating an intern on BoJack's new show. Princess Carolyn meets Ralph's parents. Mr. Peanutbutter throws his support behind Woodchuck.

The reveal of what FHBA: Los Angeles actually stands for is one of the most hilarious moments of this entire season. It's just absolutely ridiculous to think of Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman hosting a reality show called Felicity Huffman's Booty Academy: Los Angeles where the purpose seems to be judging women based on their booties. BoJack is completely taken by surprise. He believes he's just playing a judge on an NCIS-type show. That's his expectation. He wants to get back to work. He's excited to be doing this. It's him fully returning to his life in Hollywoo. And yet, he never fully grasps the concept of this show. He makes it all the way to the stage before realizing what the show actually is. It's a reality show where he, Felicity Huffman and Sir Mix-a-Lot are judges. That's just a fantastic premise for a joke in the heightened reality of BoJack Horseman. Felicity introduced this show a couple episodes ago. She needed BoJack to do an appearance during sweeps in order to help the ratings. After "The Judge," it's not clear how effective that appearance may actually be. He's once again his same selfish self who ruins this latest professional opportunity because of his inappropriate behavior.

Of course, BoJack's story is tied to his own personal feelings of no one ever being capable of loving him. That's been a consistent part of his story this year. He's trying to be better but doesn't actually love anything about his life. He hasn't found his happiness yet. He's gotten closer with Hollyhock. He's able to see that she is his daughter in every sense. She feels the same neurotic and depressive feelings that he does. He can relate to her view of the world. However, she is still a teenage girl. She's still hopeful about the world. BoJack has lived a life full of crazy experiences. He knows just how destructive people's behavior can be. He knows how fake and disingenuous the world of Hollywoo is capable of being. He believes that everyone always has an ulterior agenda. He doesn't believe that Hollyhock could have found a genuine connection with an intern/UCLA student. This story does confirm that Hollyhock doesn't need to be back for school because she graduated early and is taking a gap year. Of course, there's a certain sadness by her spending this time in Hollywoo with BoJack and caring for Beatrice when she could be out seeing the world like her best friend is. She wants to be happy but is filled with self-doubt just like BoJack. Meanwhile, he has no idea how to lift her spirits like her other dads do.

So instead, it's basically just a main plot that centers on BoJack trying to prove that the intern, Miles, isn't a good guy for Hollyhock. He's just working some angle. In the end, that is absolutely true. Miles has a script he wants to get to an agent or manager. If BoJack can do that, he'll stop seeing Hollyhock. But this story has much more meaning when it forces BoJack to reflect on why he's feeling this way in the first place. He is certain that this won't be a lasting or loving relationship for Hollyhock. He sets out to destroy it in order to prove his point. But that only leaves him without a job as a judge on FHBA: Los Angeles and a broken heart for Hollyhock. Of course, it's still compelling to see him talk all of this out with Diane - who would much rather be enjoying her multiple massages in her hotel. He's acting this way because of his own fears about love and intimacy. But it's largely just reconfirming that BoJack may not always be a good influence for Hollyhock even though she's staying around him for much longer than expected. And yet, that final conversation between them on the couch is so moving as well. It shows that BoJack can be comforting when he wants to be. It's difficult because he doesn't know how to be good or supportive. This is a stretch for him. But it's something he feels the need to do because he knows the truth of the situation. Hollyhock is spiraling into sadness and she doesn't even know the full story. So, it's up to BoJack to tell her that she is beautiful in every sense of the word. That's sweet which reveals just how close the two of them have gotten this season.

The other subplots are really quite humorous to watch as well. Princess Carolyn and Ralph go to his parents for the weekend in order to celebrate a holiday. Of course, it's a holiday where mice celebrate the defeat of an evil cat ruler. It's really uncomfortable for Princess Carolyn because she had no warning about it whatsoever. This was already going to be an awkward wedding because she's pregnant and they were planning on telling his parents after the big celebration. And then, the big event happens and Princess Carolyn is really turned against Ralph's family. They are so viciously anti-cat. He doesn't take it too seriously. He's in love with her. He just sees it as his family being who they are. He loves them and doesn't want to apologize for their behavior. And yet, Princess Carolyn and Philbert are his family as well. He needs to care for them especially in times like this. So, it's ultimately empowering to watch as he stands up to his parents who believe that his relationship with Princess Carolyn is just a momentary thing that is meant to be a joke. It's not. He loves her and is starting a family with her. He's just as committed as she is. It's so great to see her continue to have this strong love interest who is willing to support her no matter what. She was searching for this kind of love for a long time. It's still complicated. This pregnancy means so much to her. She doesn't want to lose it or risk ruining her relationship with Ralph. But for right now, it's still incredibly strong and supportive. That's so fantastic to see.

Meanwhile, Mr. Peanutbutter is largely just trying to jump into a completely new storyline for the season while the campaign for governor plot isn't letting him leave so easily. It's very amusing to see the new running joke about Woodchuck having different hands every time he appears. His hands got crushed in "Underground." And now, the doctors replace them with gorilla feet and lobster claws. That's just a hilarious reveal that works because of how serious Woodchuck wants to approach this campaign. He's very supportive of Mr. Peanutbutter stepping down in this race. Of course, his concession is a little confusing because he makes it seem like a vote for Mr. Peanutbutter is technically a vote for Woodchuck. But it's just important that he's done with this race. He can return to coming up with crazy new business ideas with Todd while his accountant, Oxnard, reacts in horror. And yes, that is a part of this story as Todd comes up with a business where dentists dress up as clowns in order to appeal to kids. They rationalize it by saying that clowns have to be for kids otherwise what's the point of having clowns. It's a really great joke that's extremely timely as well. The fear of clowns is having a moment in pop culture. But it's more enticing to see the story pivot back to the campaign as Katrina has convinced Jessica Biel to run for governor. That's a surprising moment. It's one that ensures Mr. Peanutbutter will stay committed to this story. He's helping Woodchuck because he's the only person who knows how to handle both Katrina and Jessica Biel. But it seems like a more daunting race now that is about to get a whole lot more funny before this season is over.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Judge" was written by Elijah Aron & Jordan Young and directed by Otto Murga.
  • Guest voices in this episode include Hannibal Buress as Miles and Martin Short & Patti LuPone as Ralph's parents. None of them are really given a lot to do. And yet, Short and LuPone do get to song for a little bit. That's rewarding in its own way. Plus, there's always the potential of them returning at some point in the future.
  • There's the possibility that Miles could return as well. Right now, BoJack is very skeptical of his script because it's the story of an intern who aspires to more in the entertainment industry. That doesn't seem all that original. But is he going to pass it on to his friends in the industry? Princess Carolyn is the likely recipient. Will she like it? Or is BoJack not even going to bother doing what Miles asked?
  • Beatrice is still suffering with her dementia. She still hasn't recognized BoJack as her son. And yet, she seems to be doing better in this new environment surrounded by family. She's still caring for her doll. But she's capable of making coffee and doing pushups. That seems really healthy for someone who was said to be dying within a couple of months.
  • It's nice to be reminded that Ralph and Stefani are siblings. They haven't really interacted before or been important as siblings. That connection got Diane her job at Girl Croosh. And now, it's just good for a couple of jokes. It's mostly just amusing to think that not even getting poked in the eyeball is enough to distract Stefani from the world on her phone.
  • It's amusing that all Diane seems to be doing at this hotel is getting a massage. However, she really deserves it and could probably benefit from multiple massages. She needs to take that time to let go of all the stress in her life. It's a nice way to relax. Of course, it doesn't take long before she's twisted up into knots again because she's terrified of all the clown dentists in her hotel room.
  • Hollyhock: "Shouldn't you be doing pushups?" BoJack: "Nope, impossible. Anyone who says they can do a pushup is lying."
  • Felicity Huffman: "You said a contestant could advance to the final round if she slept with a P.A.?" BoJack: "I said seduce. There's a difference."
  • Jessica Biel: "California needs a governor who is capable of both comedy and drama and is approachable in a girl-next-door kind of way."

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.