Bojack Horseman Season 4 Review

Updated on December 26, 2018
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Ash has a bachelor's in English Lit, loves analyzing fiction, and is the author of the humorous science fantasy trilogy Fall Apart World.

Baddest horse in Hollywoo.
Baddest horse in Hollywoo.

As you might know from my earlier review of the first three seasons, I'm only just now (as of December 2018) getting to Season 4 of the adult cartoon Bojack Horseman. I binge-watched it recently and . . . I loved it.

Season 4 was amazing in that it really developed each character, told engaging stories, and reigned in the sexist jokes. There were only two unfortunate jokes that I remember but two too many. I hope mocking women's periods doesn't become a regular thing on this show. As someone who's spent twenty years dealing with this, the symptoms are painfully debilitating, and the shitty jokes about mood swings are stereotypes that belittle our suffering.

But I digress. Let me gush about how much I loved this season.

~Obvious spoilers ahead~

Let me start with Princess Carolyn.

I loved the fact that she didn't mope around after Bojack dumped her. Instead, she moved on and tried to be happy with her boyfriend. She's such a great character that I always find myself rooting for her to finally be happy in her life.

It was hilarious when she went home with Ralph, her mouse boyfriend, whose family turned out to be racist against cats. She had to sit there in polite silence while they said horrible things about her entire "race," and for the sake of her relationship with Ralph, she could not defend herself.

Anyone who has interracially dated might relate to this.

It was really sweet when they were leaving and Ralph stood up to his family for Princess Carolyn,saying that they were going to have a baby and that he didn't care what they thought.

Then it was really sad when Princess Carolyn and Ralph broke up after she had a miscarriage and became depressed.

Honestly, Princess Carolyn's entire story arc was a roller coaster of emotions for me, but thankfully, it never got so dark that it depressed me. It was honestly pretty great. And once again, I am so grateful and happy to have so many wonderful female characters prevalent on the show and so well written. By the end of her story arc, I really felt for her. That's the essence of good writing.

I think Todd's entire "asexual" arc -- including the clown dentist weirdness -- is dumb.

There. I said it.

I'm also really starting to grow weary of Diane's entire arc. Mostly because it's just another version of Bojack's same exact arc.

She is so, so unhappy no matter what. Much like Bojack, Diane is unhappy because she doesn't love herself. Her family abused her, made her feel less than, and now as an adult, she can't form emotionally healthy relationships because she has no sense of self-worth.

Mr. Peanutbutter -- while he pulls the occasional crazy antics -- is a wonderful husband who loves and cares for Diane. And aside from having a rich, handsome, devoted husband who is terrified of losing her, Diane has a steady paycheck writing for a blog, a nice home in LA, and friends who give a crap about her . . .but it's still not enough.

And it will never be enough until she learns to love herself.

Watching Diane destroy her life because she refuses to be grateful and refuses to be happy is painful. I screamed when she divorced Mr. Peanutbutter (though I kinda of don't blame her. Mr. Peanutbutter's level of immaturity would make anyone leave).

Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy with your life right now. You can choose to look in the mirror and love yourself right now. Love what you see and stop caring what anyone else thinks. Because the only other option is to be depressed, self-deprecating, and downtrodden like Diane.

Diane really is the Asian Daria. Except she's a lot nicer as a person.

One thing I really love about this show is how it doesn't go back to square one at the end of every episode. Instead, the story continues to carry over -- even to the point that everyone now calls Hollywood "Hollywoo" after Bojack stole the "D."

Hollyhock is an arc that carries over. She is a cute teenage horse girl who arrives in LA with the announcement that she might be Bojack's daughter. She doesn't want anything from him, though, except help finding her mother.

Bojack agrees to help Hollyhock, at the same time welcoming his senile, mentally disturbed mother into his home.

There is one episode called "You Piece of Sh*t" (or something) that really develops Bojack as a character. Bojack spends the entire episode insulting himself, and while it's supposed to be funny, it's actually pretty painful and sad to watch.

Just like Diane, Bojack is the typical result of lifelong emotional abuse. He was treated like garbage as a child, and because children don't question things, he believed it when his parents put him down.

The "voices" that developed in his head are a result of the psychological damage his mother and father's emotional abuse inflicted.

People like to act like emotional abuse doesn't matter, but it has lifelong repercussions. In Bojack's case, it destroyed his entire life. He's such a broken, emotionally crippled man, I wouldn't be surprised if the show ended with him dying of an overdose.

What's even more heartbreaking is that Hollyhock reveals toward the end of the episode that she has the same voices in her head, telling her she's crap and ugly and stupid. She asks Bojack if they ever go away, and -- rather than admit he has the same voices -- he tells Hollyhock that the voices eventually go, likely with the hope that it will help her to believe it.

What people don't seem to realize is that those voices can go. Trust me. As a lifelong victim of emotional abuse myself, I lived with those voices a long time. But you can make them go away. All you have to do is stop putting yourself down and start building yourself up. Every time you catch yourself about to say something mean about yourself? Say something nice instead.

Yes. It really is that simple. As children, we are programmed by our parents, by our family, and by the world. We have no control over how such abuse impacts us, and because we're children, we are vulnerable to said abuse and unable to really cope.

However, once we're adults, it's our responsibility to recover from the abuse, to learn to love ourselves so that we can better love others. Bojack and Diane are fully responsible for their own happiness -- regardless of upbringing, regardless of society.

No one said loving yourself would be easy, but it's not impossible. Just trust me. I was the lowest of the low, abused on all sides, mocked and bullied by my own loved ones, kids at school, you name it. And now? Now no one can tell me shit. Because now I know my worth. Now I know that the way people treat me has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with them.

Which brings me to Beatrice, Bojack's mother.

We know from past seasons that both Bojack's parents were pretty horrible to him. They were constantly insulting him and dismissing him, and if they weren't insulting him and dismissing him, they were fighting with each other.

As a result, Bojack never learned what love was, how to love himself, or how to love others, and has a bitter hatred toward his mother.

Beatrice is now a feeble, senile old woman who thinks her dolly is a real baby. A bitter Bojack snatches the doll and throws it over the balcony, and it's pretty sad how Beatrice cries, now tormented by the son she used to torment.

But why did she torment him?

As each episode unfolds, we are given horrible tidbits about Beatrice's life.

When she was a child, her older brother died while serving in the war. This drove her mother into such a deep grief that she had a public breakdown.

Beatrice's sexist, P.O.S. father forced her mother to get a lobotomy that turned her into a walking doll. He literally objectified his wife in a very real sense. All because he didn't feel like dealing with her "irrational" "womanly" emotions.

At school, Beatrice was bullied and had no friends, which -- between her asshole father and her vegetable mother -- only served to isolate her further.

She came down with an illness that nearly killed her -- very traumatic for a child -- and to contain the virus, her father burned all her toys and possessions, a nightmare she was reliving when Bojack threw her doll over the balcony.

Later when she was grown, her father tried to sell her like chattel to a man she didn't care for (picture above). She ran away with Bojack's father in retaliation and got pregnant.

Bojack's father wanted Beatrice to get an abortion. She decided to keep the baby, and thus the two of them wound up in marital hell. It would have been better for everyone involved had Beatrice just put Bojack up for adoption -- a fact which Beatrice comes to realize much later in life, when she cautions the mother of Hollyhock to do the same.

In the end, Beatrice had a horrible life and never recovered from it, which made her unfit to be a parent.

What I'm about to say sounds cold, but it's the truth: Beatrice is a tragic figure but not one to be pitied.

As I said before, being a good person is a choice. No matter what life does to you as a child, you have the choice to learn to love yourself, to learn to treat others with kindness, to not be bitter, to not be self-loathing. You are responsible for your own happiness and the choices you make.

Beatrice made the choice to be forever angry and bitter. Rather than take responsibility for her own choices, she took it out on Bojack. That's not right.

No one has the right to treat other people like crap just because their life was bad. No one. No one has a "right" to be a an asshole.

Beatrice chose to be an asshole. Just like Bojack chooses to be an asshole.

All that being said, I'm not saying no one is allowed to pity Beatrice. By the end of this season, I felt nothing but immense pity and sorrow for her. She was really well written and a character I feel compassion for.

I'm simply saying that there is no excuse for the way she treated Bojack. The same way Bojack really has no excuse for his own behavior. We are all responsible for dealing with our own demons and for becoming better people in spite of circumstance.

But Beatrice's life was so crappy, it's very touching when Bojack finally stops being angry and decides to comfort his broken mother. It was probably the first time in decades that someone was kind to her. And the fact that Bojack did that for his mother -- put his own bullshit aside to care for her -- shows his own personal growth.

This goes back to what I said about the story arcs for this show carrying over. Once Bojack starts to release his anger against his mother and feelings of worthlessness, he gradually becomes a happier, better person, as seen later in Season 5.

This show could potentially help people with low self-esteem learn how to recover from emotional abuse if Bojack ever picked himself up and learned to love himself. I honestly think that would be pretty awesome, as unlikely as it is.

All in all? Season 4 was pretty great, and I can't wait to binge-watch Season 5.

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    © 2018 Ash Gray

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