Coming into this season, Bojack Horseman was my favourite show. Gorgeous and hilarious all while being an intricately constructed picture of depression that resonated with me so personally, it was instrumental in my understanding of my mental health.
With that said, the news series 6 would be the last, was news I welcomed. Because I felt the show reached a point where it could end satisfyingly without repeating negative cycles like it’s main character is so prone to doing. Do I still feel the same way after watching the first half of its end game? Absolutely.
It’s not just the higher episode count (16 vs 12) or the season being split in half (bring on 31/1) that’s new this time round. Bojack entered rehab at the end of season 5, after doing the latest in a long list of horribly irredeemable things, and most shockingly of all he’s actually apparently improving.
Bojack’s commitment to sobriety (at least for now) is emblematic of the shows ability to reinvent itself and of how much he’s developed. From the start this show has been refreshingly honest about how it handles the consequences of its character’s actions, without the lazy status quo resets that are so common in sitcoms. But that also comes with a commitment to letting its character’s grow and learn from their mistakes. That’s what makes the improvement so compelling, it builds on foundations that have been comprehensively laid down over five years.
This growth is on full display across these eight episodes which fully commit to an ensemble approach, giving each character a chance to showcase just how far they’ve come. Princess Carolyn and her new adopted baby are a highlight, with her own episode being visually and verbally playful, all the while portraying the stress of someone who is overworked to the point of mental exhaustion in a powerful way.
Not that the show has abandoned its comical side either, where the juxtaposition of a tense argument with one of the most creatively staged farces I’ve ever seen manages to feel like exactly what would happen under the circumstances.
The closest to a criticism for this set is that by its nature as only the first half of a series, it’s more set up than pay off, though it ends with a hell of a hook and the final episode in general is top notch. So it lacks the sense of finality and action that come out of previous season conclusions. However what we get in exchange is thrilling trip through the shows past full of references and call back that looks to be setting up an incredible conclusion.