Ash has a bachelor's in English Lit. She loves analyzing fiction and obsessing over books, film, and television.
First let me reiterate: this was a fantastic show. I hope we get more shows like this in the future. I'm tired of crass, offensive adult cartoons that try too hard to be "edgy." I thoroughly enjoyed looking at this season and not having to tense myself for the inevitable racist/sexist/homophobic jokes so typical in other adult cartoons.
So . . . about two years ago, I wrote a review of season five of this show saying that I wasn't going to watch it anymore. I was largely disturbed by the fact that Bojack had basically attempted murder on someone in a drug-induced rage. The show wasn't funny anymore. It was getting really dark and depressing, when originally, I had looked at it to laugh. So I quit.
I only recently learned that Season 6 was the last season and that Bojack had been cancelled. This naturally aroused my curiosity, and I wanted to see if they ended the show in an interesting way. So I went back to Netflix and binged the show on my day off.
Here's my (relatively short) review.
As I've indicated in past reviews, Princess Carolyn is probably one of my favorite characters on the show. She was always a bit tragic, struggling to find happiness and failing again and again.
I thought it was realistic that she actually didn't enjoy motherhood. Being a single parent is a full-time job. That's just the truth. You don't get a break. It's constantly, unendingly centering your life around the needs of someone else.
I remember saying in my review of Season 5 that I couldn't wait to see Princess Carolyn being happy with her new daughter. I must've had a brain fart and forgot how hellish actual parenting can be.
I'm not a parent myself, but my narc mother was a preschool teacher (narcissists often take positions of power over vulnerable people to gain supply), so I was around diaper changing and burping and feeding a lot. It's probably the largest reason why I decided as a child that I was never, ever going to have kids.
There's a point where Princess Carolyn says she loves her daughter, she just doesn't love taking care of her. And I feel that's valid. Most parents love their kids but don't love changing diapers.
I enjoyed the part where Vanessa Gekko reminds Princess Carolyn that being a mother means doing what she must for the good of her child. Also, Princess Carolyn chose to be a parent, so there's really no room for complaining.
That was good.
I feel like Season 6 hit Princess Carolyn with a hard dose of reality that was long overdue.
In this season, she learns the hard realities of parenthood, and that she can't (and shouldn't) do everything by herself. She learns that life doesn't have to be hard and lonely if she would only trust people and allow people in (rather than pushing them away as she did Ralph Mouse and Judah), and this culminates in her hiring Todd as a nanny, falling in love with Judah, and connecting with Vanessa Gekko.
I loved Princess Carolyn's arc with Vanessa Gekko especially because it's revealed that the "rivalry" Princess Carolyn had with this woman was all in her head and a pure projection of her insecurities.
Vanessa Gekko is everything Princess Carolyn wants to be. She's young, she's in shape, she's happily married with kids, and she has a great career. She basically has it all. She is the Modern American Woman to a T.
Because Princess Carolyn wants so desperately to be in Vanessa Gekko's shoes, she negatively misinterprets everything Vanessa Gekko says and does. Every time Vanessa Gekko mentions her husband or her family or how great she is at her job, the audience can see Princess Carolyn seething.
Princess Carloyn seems to believe that Vanessa Gekko is bringing up all her accomplishments to be an asshole, when in reality, she is just a happy, confident, accomplished woman. What's more, she actually likes Princess Carolyn ,and whatever meanness and pettiness is perceived in their interactions is just a distortion viewed through Princess Carolyn's own insecurities.
This all becomes painfully clear to Princess Carolyn in about the span of two sentences when she and Vanessa Gekko have a heart to heart about motherhood. Princess Carolyn mentions that it was a shame she and Vanessa Gekko hated each other for so many years, only for Vanessa Gekko to reply in shock,
"I never hated you! Did you hate me?"
As someone who has often been the oblivious Vanessa Gekko to someone else's seething Princess Carolyn, the sad and flawed thing about Princess Carolyn is that she hurt, insulted, and even sabotaged Vanessa Gekko over her imaginary "rivalry" (she actually got her fired in one season).
In my experience, far too many women become assholes to other women out of bitterness and envy, rather than doing some introspection and working on themselves. It's a lot easier to project onto someone else.
And a lot less painful.
I also enjoyed the fact that even though Princess Carolyn was still in love with Bojack, she found love with a man who could love her back, and in the end, she got to be happy. It was really sweet when Judah played guitar for Princess Carolyn and sang her a song saying that he loved her.
And the best part? Bojack didn't go into a jealous fit and ruin it for her. The fact that he was happy for her and they stayed friends showed that he actually had some character development. Bojack from Season 1 totally would have gotten drunk and ruined the wedding.
And the fact that Princess Carolyn finally has the strength to cut Bojack out of her life is also . . . pretty awesome. In this season, Bojack is called out for manipulating and controlling the women in his life. When he asks Princess Carolyn if that's true, she answers like the love-sick puppy that she is, "I'm still here, aren't I?"
Bojack doesn't love Princess Carolyn but uses her for emotional support when it suits him, and she just . . . continues to let it happen. But as every episode goes by, we can see her pulling away from him. Toward the end of the season, Bojack says that he loved Sarah Lynn and that she wasn't like "those other girls," causing a hurt look on Princess Carolyn's face.
After this, Princess Carolyn realizes she's allowing Bojack to use her while she gets nothing in return (co-dependency) and by the end of the season, it's revealed that she didn't even invite Bojack to her real wedding, just the second "fake" wedding that's for her clients and contacts.
It shows that while Princess Carolyn still loves Bojack, she is no longer going to enable him, support his shittiness, or allow him to f up her life.
In fact, all the women in the show take back their power, so to speak, by either breaking off contact completely or going "low contact."
"Low contact" and "no contact" are terms used among narcissistic abuse survivors. It's what you do with a narcissist (or any toxic person) when your mental health and wellbeing are in danger.
It was great to see all the characters take their lives back, no longer allowing Bojack to manipulate them or intrude on them. I was especially proud of Hollyhock, whose relationship with Bojack was both codependent and detrimental to her mental health.
Back in earlier seasons, Bojack was an asshole to Hollyhock. He ridiculed her, mocked her near-death experience with an overdose (still blown away by that), and encouraged her to do drugs and drink alcohol while himself driving drunk. He was a black hole and he was pulling her down.
By Season 6, Bojack has cleaned up and is trying to be better, but he has become clingy and intrusive. He starts teaching at Hollyhock's college without even discussing it with her (ignoring her boundaries), and is in her face all the time, trying to milk love and acceptance from her and never giving her space to breathe.
Hollyhock tries to set boundaries with Bojack by pointing out how he came to her college without even telling her, forcing her to interact with him on a regular basis when she might not even want to. But what made her finally go "no contact" was learning that he had abused young kids close to her age, giving them alcohol in a way he tried to do with her. She recognized his toxicity and decided she wanted no part of it.
And after everything Hollyhock has been through just from knowing Beatrice and Bojack . . . I don't blame her.
After looking at Season 6, I went back to Season 3, and it made me remember why I loved Todd (before the writers couldn't decide what to do with him and just made him crazy). As I said on older season reviews, Todd is the only person who calls Bojack out on his crap. Even Diane didn't really start doing it until Season 4.
There's a really great moment when Bojack admits to sleeping with Todd's girlfriend (holy sh*t, I had completely forgotten about that) and Todd gets angry and tells Bojack that he can't just keep screwing up, he has to be better.
Basically, Bojack never holds himself accountable for his own actions. He feels guilty, but never enough that he actually changes. At least not until it's too late . . . and that's what makes his arc so tragic.
I also feel bad for Todd. Todd is the victim of narcissistic abuse. Bojack took him in off the street when he was a teenager. This is a seemingly benevolent act, but in reality, Bojack just wanted a living punching bag. Or to use narcissist jargon, Bojack wanted "supply."
We see through the early seasons how Bojack constantly berates Todd, insults him, and yells at him. And the second Todd gets a chance to live an independent and happy life, Bojack sabotages it to keep Todd codependent, addicted to video games, and trapped on his couch. Because hurting someone and making them feel as bad as he feels makes Bojack feel good. If he lost Todd, he would be alone again and forced to contend with his own demons.
This is the typical narcissist trap, and a lot of real people with NPD sabotage their own children to keep them in the stunted, dependent state that Todd is in during the first three seasons of the show. Todd is so trapped that he only escapes Bojack thanks to the charity of Princess Carolyn . . . which, sadly, is often the case for people who become trapped by actual narcissists.
Bojack may not be a full-blown narcissist, but he has traits due to his upbringing, and as a result, he does nothing but abuse Todd again and again.
Todd always holds Bojack accountable and is brave enough to try stepping out on his own after everything Bojack did to hold him back. He actually could have been a really cool character if the later seasons hadn't reduced him to a clown.
I enjoyed the fact that Season 6 gave Todd a new girlfriend, had him step out completely on his own this time (instead of relying on an older parental figure), and allowed him to make amends with Bojack.
In real life, a person with NPD feels no remorse, so you don't get closure and you don't get a happy ending. Thankfully, Bojack is just a narcissistic asshole. He doesn't actually have NPD. So he and Todd get to end on a good note.
While Bojack is no longer a part of Todd's life, they part on good terms, with good-natured Todd having let go of his anger and Bojack finally in a place where he won't abuse Todd anymore.
It was sweet.
I also liked Diane's arc. I remember complaining back in my other season reviews that Diane annoyed me because she refused to even try to be happy. Mr. Peanutbutter had his issues, but she could have been happy with him if she and he had at least tried. Instead, she chose to be miserable about everything all the time, while he kept trying to "fix" her instead of listening to her and supporting her.
It was nice to see Diane finally choose happiness. And the fact that she took steps toward recovering from her depression sends a hopeful message to people who are struggling to recover in real life.
The only thing I hate about Diane's arc is . . . surprise! . . . the toxic fans. Because Diane's antidepressants made her gain weight, we've now got a bunch of annoying fans on the internet screeching about how gaining weight is "normal."
Look people. . . . There is no such thing as "fatphobia." Okay? Being fat is not a minority status. Fat people are not systemically oppressed. People are oppressed based on immutable things they cannot change (race, sex, sexuality). Being fat is a choice. Yes . . . it is.
No one should be mean to fat people, but no one should normalize being fat, either. If someone respectfully criticizes your weight, shows concern for your health, or doesn't want to date you because you are fat . . . they are not a "bigot." They just don't live in the elaborate fantasy world you do. If you don't want people showing concern for your weight or offering advice, then stop complaining about it constantly.
Being fat isn't a body type like being apple shaped or pear shaped. Being fat is an actual health condition. Fat people don't live long. There's a reason you don't see a lot of elderly fat people.
You can love yourself and still want to lose weight for the sake of your health and self-esteem. Diane should exercise and stop eating burgers and fries every night with her boyfriend. She gained all that weight because the pills probably made her hungrier (speaking from experience) but her appetite could be controlled with suppressants.
Stop using cartoons to normalize your toxic Tumblr bullshit. Being fat is a choice. The end. Even people with a thyroid condition can get help from a doctor, and you can be thin in spite of your "genes." Fat people aren't powerless.
But it's easier to blame made up bullshit and backwards logic for your misery, isn't it? Which brings me to . . .
Bojack is such a tragic figure, I don't even know where to begin.
Season 6 drives it home that he is an asshole and that he is responsible for his own behavior, regardless of how shitty his childhood was. Being abused doesn't give anyone the right to turn around and abuse, and the way Bojack is (rightly) criticized by practically every character on the show makes it clear that this is what the writers are trying to convey.
Bojack's mother, Beatrice, abused him as a child and so did his father. I really enjoyed seeing all the flashbacks in this season because they developed Bojack so well. We saw how his father gave him alcohol, on top of all the crap his mother did to him, making it obvious that the behavior Bojack exhibits is learned from his crappy parents.
To be clear, one of two things happens when a child is raised in an abusive home. The child either a) becomes more empathic and compassionate or b) becomes an abuser.
Bojack's mother, Beatrice, was abused by her father. Instead of deciding to break the cycle of abuse, she went on to abuse her son.
Bojack was abused by his mother. Instead of deciding to break the cycle of abuse, he went on to abuse everyone in his life. He repeatedly exposed Sarah Lynn to drugs and alcohol. This after having emotionally, verbally abused her when she was only ten years old.
Bojack damaged Sarah Lynn by passing his generational trauma down to her (this on top of the fact that Sarah Lynn's mother and stepfather were also abusive and exploitive of her as a child star). This makes sense considering she was his TV daughter for years. Sarah Lynn was the closest thing Bojack had to a daughter, and unfortunately for Sarah Lynn, Bojack was the closest thing she had to a father. This is what makes it so disturbing that Bojack not only passed on his family's crap to her, but he also slept with her when she was drunk, high, emotionally vulnerable and mentally unstable.
Bojack is the reason Sarah Lynn is dead. The fact that Sarah Lynn overdosed on a strain of heroine called Bojack is symbolic of this.
Probably the most tragic thing about Sarah Lynn and Bojack is that Bojack really did love Sarah Lynn. But the fact that he was so wounded and damaged from his past is what made him incapable of being a real parent to her.
It's established throughout the show that Bojack is a coward. It is pointed out point-blank by many characters and is also demonstrated in Bojack's actions (Bojack abandons Herb, doesn't have the guts to approach Charlotte, fails to take responsibility for Sarah Lynn's death).
So Bojack lacking the courage it takes to look in the mirror, acknowledge his imperfections, and make steps to be a better person . . . makes complete sense. He's too much of a coward to even try.
As I've said in past articles, the difference between Bojack and Diane is that Diane is broken by her childhood abuse, but she takes steps to heal herself and be a good person, despite her past. Meanwhile, when Bojack winds up (accidentally) in therapy during Season 5, the first thing he does is runaway.
But being a good person is a choice. And it's a choice you have to make everyday.
I've been writing here at Hubpages since 2018. In 2019, I took a year-long hiatus, and I only started writing here again in January 2020.
Know why? My life was so demolished by my abusive narcissist mother that I wound up homeless on the street after hopping to the next city just to escape her. And after everything she did to destroy my life, after all the emotional, physical, psychological abuse . . . I still strive to be a good person who doesn't abuse others. Because, again, being a good person is a choice.
Bojack's entire arc is about him having to come to terms with the fact that he chose to be an asshole, and now he has to live with the repercussions of that choice.
The 17 Minutes
At one point in Season 6, it comes out that Sarah Lynn didn't die at the planetarium. She was still live and died at the hospital. Bojack stood in the parking lot for 17 minutes and let her die so that the cops would think he arrived later, rather than having already been there . . . He basically let Sarah Lynn die to save his own ass.
People argue that this was last minute shoe-in to make us relate to Bojack less, but we've known that Sarah Lynn died at the hospital since Season 3. It's perfectly in-character that Bojack would call himself from Sarah Lynn's phone to hide what really happened. After all, how else could he have gotten away with it?
Bojack knew Sarah Lynn was still alive. But saving himself was more important than saving her life. . . Wow. That fans can continue to defend him after all that he's done is amazing.
Maybe it's because I know what it's like to be left to die by a narcissist. I once nearly died of a heatstroke while my malignant narcissist mother stood over me and complained, ridiculed me, and then calmly watched me die. I was clinically dead for a moment before she attempted to revive me . . . only to ridicule me continuously about my painful, terrifying near-death experience.
Never tried to get help or call an ambulance, even though she was fully capable. Just complained at me for inconveniencing her and stood there . . . and watched me die.
When someone is dying of a heatstroke . .. . you call 911. My mother wasn't stupid. She just completely lacked empathy for anyone, even her own child. I remember what it was like to lie there in agony, terrified, the darkness closing in, in unbearable pain, unable to move, unable to breathe, while she stood over me in disgust and refused to help me.
So as you might have guessed, I empathize more with Sarah Lynn than with Bojack. The fact that Bojack didn't hate Sarah Lynn or stand over her sneering as she died is really the only difference between him and my sadistic narcissistic mother.
Bojack let Sarah Lynn die because he's a selfish coward. The writers are trying to make you understand: Bojack is not a good person.
Diane is wrong about there being no good people and no bad people. There absolutely are bad people. Our choices define us, and allowing someone to die for utterly selfish reasons (or in my mother's case, because you just don't give a sh*t) makes you bad.
People who don't understand this about the show think that Bojack deserves some kind of happy ending, but the reality is that he does not.
I was glad the series didn't end with Bojack dying. Death would have been too easy. While I'm glad Bojack is recovering and has become a better person, I'm also glad that he is forced to live with the consequences of his actions. He wasn't helpless. He wasn't a victim. Sometimes he was manipulated into doing bad things, but most of the time, he did them of his own freewill.
Bojack is . . . a monster. There's no gentle way to break it to you. In fact, that was the whole point of his arc. Yes, Bojack healed and became better. There's even an episode where Princess Carolyn's daughter, Ruthie, rips open the narcissist painting of Bojack because the interpretation isn't true anymore. Yes, Bojack can be a better person from now on, but his past will always haunt him. To quote Rob Thomas,
"There ain't no blanket that can hide this cold. There ain't no memory that ever gets old."
And the "bittersweet" ending is also realistic for people with NPD or even minor traits of NPD. People who continuously harm others eventually end up bitter and alone. (Most) Narcissists (not all) lose everything over the years as people wise up to their games and leave. Like Beatrice, they wind up demented and elderly, sitting in nursing homes with no family to visit them because they sucked the soul from every family member they could.
So Bojack losing everything is very realistic. His narcissistic traits destroyed his relationship with Hollyhock, killed Sarah Lynn, pushed Todd away, and made him unworthy of both Diane and Princess Carolyn.
"Back in the 90's, I was on a very famous tv show . . ."
So given everything I've said, one can see how the ending is actually perfect. Bojack's narcissist traits cost him everything. But most importantly, it cost him the one thing he's always wanted: a relationship with Diane.
It's made clear in the very first season that Bojack is in love with Diane and that she might actually have feelings for him as well. But his cruelty and narcissism, wallowing in self-pity, and trying to sleep with teenagers . . . not to mention his attempted murder on his co-star . . . make him anything but a suitable partner.
By the time Bojack has worked out his shit and is in a place where he can be in a proper relationship, Diane has moved on. She's gotten married, she's in love, and she's happy . . . without him. And because she lives far away, they can't even be friends. Diane doesn't seem to want to bother, almost like Bojack is a part of her past. She isn't even happy to see him and doesn't appear to want to talk to him.
Bojack sits next to her knowing he has lost her for good and that the moment on the roof with her . . . is all he'll ever have.
This is a punishment worse than prison. Worse than becoming a pariah. Worse than death. Loving someone and not getting that love in return has defined Bojack's entire life, from his parents to Hollyhock to Diane. He sits there knowing he's old and alone, and that he . . . deserves it.