Friday, October 25, 2019

REVIEW: 'BoJack Horseman' - BoJack Yearns for Self-Improvement After Checking Into Rehab in 'A Horse Walks Into a Rehab'

Netflix's BoJack Horseman - Episode 6.01 "A Horse Walks Into a Rehab"

BoJack checks into Pastiches, a Malibu rehab facility, where he grapples with memories of Sarah Lynn's death and his own troubled childhood.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of Netflix's BoJack Horseman.

"A Horse Walks Into a Rehab" was written by Elijah Aron and directed by Peter Merryman

Sarah Lynn's death was the darkest moment of BoJack's life. It showed just how tragic and soul-crushing the series could be as well. From that moment, BoJack understood that he needed to make some significant changes to his life. He felt responsible for what happened to this child who looked up to him for almost her entire life. Since then, the series has showcased just how difficult it can be to turn one's life around. BoJack has still celebrated a fair amount of success in his career. He has been more of a functional alcoholic. He has allowed hope to enter his life from time to time as well. However, he is very capable of isolating himself from connections either physically or emotionally. He may simply always deflect instead of addressing the ugly realities of his life and these friendships. He calls when he needs something. He hopes he can step up to be a good friend, brother and son when the situation calls for it. But it's truly an ongoing question because no one knows how well BoJack is doing at any given moment. He checked himself into rehab because he saw the significant damage he was continuing to do to those in life. He starts this journey not engaging with the process at all. Across the six weeks at Pastiches, he does join in on the group activities. He goes hiking, performs yoga, tends to plants, does artwork and share in group therapy. However, he doesn't really reflect on how his actions led him to this place. The counselors and doctors push for him to open up and be honest. However, he is still prone to lashing out at others and laughing at the hypocrisy of the system. To him, this doesn't present as a business that can actually help people. It's mostly just a money-making scheme to get people addicted to the idea that they can improve. BoJack may not believe that. And yet, he doesn't leave rehab just yet. He may be entering his last day at the start of the premiere but he ends the episode checking back in for another six weeks. He is capable of the self-reflection necessary to take responsibility over the actions he took because of his disease. It's just an internal conversation at the moment. The audience gets to witness that. We share in BoJack's life story. We have seen just how tortured and problematic his upbringing was. That has shaped so many relationships in his life. And now, the flashbacks are framed around when he had his first drink. His most disastrous bender came when Sarah Lynn died. He still hasn't completely atoned for that action. He may have to take even more responsibility in order to fully grapple with the idea that he deserves a better future. But the show keeps teasing earlier points in his life where his drinking started. All of them present as reasonable scenarios based on the circumstances. He could have been encouraged to drink on the Horsin' Around set to loosen up. He could have felt pressure to drink in high school in order to be loved and appreciated. He could have been forced alcohol to forget about walking in on his father having sex with his secretary. But the sad truth is he had his first drink even younger when his parents were passed out and he simply wanted their love and affection. It was a way to fill that void in this life. That's the tragedy of all of this. This is the longest relationship he has had. It has defined his entire life. He may lash out against that narrative from time to time. He destroys a car and a wall of windows here. He is continually tempted. And yet, he remains sober. The temptation is real though. That may fuel his understanding that he has so much more work to do in rehab. He isn't ready to return to the world. He has made progress. But he also yearns for what could have been as well. He laments that no one cares enough about him to send him to rehab in the hopes of getting better. Life for Diane, Todd, Mr. Peanutbutter and Princess Carolyn keeps moving forward. They are perfectly fine without BoJack. As such, it's completely on him to make these improvements and take the process seriously. Otherwise, he'll run the risk of falling back into the same pattern and destroy the lives of everyone who gets too close to him. He has done that too many times to subject even more to it now. But he fears that he may only offer that in a relationship. That too is a terrifying thought. One rooted in what ultimately happened to Sarah Lynn.