Bojack Horseman: A Feminist Perspective

Updated on July 6, 2019
Disastrous Grape profile image

Ash has a bachelor's in English Lit. She loves analyzing fiction and obsessing over books, film, and television.

Yes, that's right. I'm a -- gasp! -- feminist!

There are different factions of feminists. Radical feminists believe in the radical notion that women are people deserving of the same rights and privileges as men.

With that aside, I'll admit that I avoided watching Bojack for years.I decided a few years back to stop watching adult cartoons that were edgy, offensive, regularly punched down on protected groups or justified hatred of some kind. This meant that I had to cut out a lot of adult cartoons, which eventually led to me not watching them altogether. Got to keep my ass in good vibes.

Also, a lot of people who watch Bojack Horseman also watch other shows that are offensive and try too hard to be edgy, and I mistakenly assumed for years that "Bojack" was just another one of these shows. What changed my mind was a clip I saw on Instagram. It was hilarious.

So I binge watched the first three seasons of "Bojack," and I loved it. It was immediately obvious to me that I was looking at a parody of Bob Saget and Fullhouse (regardless of the creator's protests to the contrary).

Bojack isn't like the other male protagonists on most of today's adult cartoons. He's a jerk, but not on a shock-value, over the top level. Bojack isn't constantly spitting out racist, sexist things and then shrugging before sloppily drinking from his flask.

Bojack is flawed, bumbles into insulting people, pushes people away when they get too close, and continuously screws up his own life because he doesn't have a clue how to love himself.

But he also maintains some basic level of humanity that makes you pity him rather than hate him. For instance, his terrible guilt when he got Kelsey Jennings fired.

In short, Bojack is utterly relatable. Looking at him, I recognize my own struggles in life -- from my career, to my love life, to my abusive parents, I have struggled to be successful in much the same way. It is only now, in the later years of my young adult life, that I am learning to love myself.

I can totally relate to everything about Bojack. And that's why I love him.

I immediately related to Diane as well when she appeared on the show. Much like me, she's a middle-aged writer struggling to make something of her career; she doesn't want kids; she's a huge nerd; and she is -- oh no!!! -- a feminist.

Diane was written very well as a character. She is fully three-dimensional and utterly human. In other words, she is a Strong Female Character. Anyone who's familiar with my articles on here knows how important this is to me, seeing fully human, fully realized female characters on screen -- mostly because I didn't have much of that growing up.

Diane is pretty much the female version of Bojack (except she's still not on Bojack's level of asshole), which is why I love her and relate to her so much. It's also why Bojack loves her and relates to her.

Ironically enough, she is hated by the male fanbase even while Bojack is loved. Those pesky double standards!

Another favorite character of mine is Mr. Peanutbutter.

He is so awesome.

He's nice, outgoing, kind, considerate, fun, caring, he loves himself, he loves everyone else, everyone loves him, and he's really in shape. He's everything Bojack wants to be -- hell, he's everything I want to be!

He's such a good husband. It's really sweet how much he loves and cares for Diane. Their arguments are hilarious to watch and their make up scenes are heartwarming. Heartwarming.

It's been a long time since I've seen an adult cartoon that was actually heartwarming and hilarious. Not since those first five golden years of The Simpsons!

There are also so many Strong Female Characters on this show! From Princess Carolyn to Kelsey Jennings to Diane, from Wanda Pierce to Bojack's mother to Charlotte Moore to Sarah Lynn.

So many Strong Female Characters. I was astonished and pleased and so gleefully happy.

Keep in mind that when I say "Strong Female Character," I mean women who are written well. Fully three dimensional female characters depicted as flawed, relatable human beings. This is why I mentioned both Sara Lynn and Princess Carolyn.

"Strong Female Character" doesn't necessarily mean the character has to be perfect and flawless. It means she has to be written well.

All the characters I mentioned have back stories, side stories, personalities, something to contribute to the overarching plot. They aren't just pretty decorations, sex objects, and plot devices that exist solely to serve the male characters or titillate the male audience.

And it's so ******* refreshing.

My favorite episode so far is probably the one with the seahorse baby.

It continuously had me laughing, and on top of that, the animation was beautiful. The entire episode felt like an undersea fantasy adventure.

I'm not fully caught up, so I might come back really pissed with a different opinion, but so far? I am loving this show. Plus, the end credit theme song is rad.

Back in the 90's
I was on a very famous tv show.
I'm Bojack the Horseman
Bojack the Horseman --
don't act like you don't know!
And I'm trying to hold on to my past
It's been so long
I don't think I'm gonna last
I guess I'll just try
and make you understand
that I'm more horse than a man
or I'm more man than a horse

Update: The only thing I hate is how season three is leaning more toward crass edginess. Almost like the writers feel pressured to compete with more offensive, racist, sexist adult cartoons. Bojack almost sleeping with a teenage girl was the beginning of this.

Then there was an unfortunate joke downplaying how women have to deal with sexual harassment every day (had to do with uber drivers being pricks). It was one of those moments where I thought, "Obviously written by a man who never has to deal with this shit."

There was also another awkward moment during a flashback about Diane where her "people of color" friends were complaining about white people -- as if "people of color" just sit around doing that all day. Mildly offensive.

Then there was that period joke in season four . . . ugh.

These few instances kind of threw me for a loop on a show that had otherwise been on point in regards to not making shitty offensive statements through its characters. Sadly, if the show continues in this vein, I will just stop watching it like the other shows before it and peacefully go on with my life.

I've already got one foot out the door, and the racist, sexist, homophobic fans who gobble this kind of crude crap up can have their precious cartoons.

No skin off my nose.

Update 2: My review of Season 4.

© 2018 Ash


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