After five years of hilarious highs and devastating lows, “BoJack Horseman” has finally completed its run on Netflix. As Todd once said, “Hooray…question mark?” It’s been an amazing experience to watch these animated characters that we have come to love and care about. To celebrate the wrapping of this amazing program, we have updated our previous list of the 40 greatest episodes, ranked worst to best, to include the stand outs from the final season. While that did mean having to let go of episodes like “Prickly-Muffin” and “Yesterdayland,” it made room for new great ones, including “The New Client” and “The View From Halfway Down.” WARNING: Spoilers ahead for all of season six.
The offbeat show takes place in a world where humans coexist with anthropomorphic animals. The titular character (Will Arnett) is a washed up sitcom actor from the 1990s who, while seemingly having everything he could want, is still profoundly unhappy and is constantly trying to turn that around. His agent, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), is a cat who constantly puts the needs of others before her own and is also BoJack’s on-again off-again lover. He begins to work on his memoirs with the help of a ghost writer, Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie), who also experiences issues family dysfunction and depression. Diane is dating Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), an incessantly cheerful Labrador who starred on a sitcom with almost the same premise as BoJack’s. Then there’s Todd (Aaron Paul), the lovable slacker that’s been crashing on BoJack’s couch for the past five years.
The genesis of “BoJack” starts in Northern California, when the show’s creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg, and the show’s production designer Lisa Hanawalt, became friends while attending Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto. While the two would hang out in the school’s drama classroom, Bob-Waksberg would look through Hanawalt’s sketch book and make up stories about the characters she drew. The two stayed in contact after graduating and Bob-Waksberg asked Hanawalt if he could use some of her drawings when he was pitching “BoJack the Depressed Talking Horse” to Michael Eisner’s production company, Tornante. After ironing out some of the details, getting the greenlight from Eisner, convincing Hanawalt to come aboard and hiring Mike Hollingsworth as supervising director, Netflix offered to make a full season.
“BoJack Horseman” premiered on Netflix on August 22, 2014 and the initial reception was quite mixed, garnering a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics took quickly to what “BoJack” was doing, like Margaret Lyons of Vulture who said, “There are so many background jokes and one-liners and silly animals that the show’s emotional depth caught me by surprise.” Erik Adams of The AV Club was much more scathing: “It spoofs the emptiness of celebrity, but does so without any novelty or true insight.” However, by the time the second season premiered in 2015, “BoJack” was receiving universal praise with seasons two and three both receiving 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The show is even making regular appearances on year-end lists of television’s best and will frequently be at the top of those lists. Vanity Fair even went so far as to name it the best television show of the 2010s.
The show finally got its first Emmy nomination for Best Animated Program in 2019 with the episode “Free Churro,” but wound up losing out to “The Simpsons.” Before that, in 2017, Kristen Schaal was nominated for Best Character Voice-Over Performance for playing Sarah Lynn. The show has also picked up honors from the Critics’ Choice TV Awards three times (twice in 2016 and in 2019), has twice won the WGA Award for Television: Animation (2016 for “Stop the Presses” and 2017 for “Time’s Arrow”) and won our own Gold Derby TV Award for Animated Program from 2016-2019 and took our award for Best Animated Program of the Decade. The show also claimed two Annie Awards in 2019 for Best General Audience Animated Television Production (for “The Dog Days Are Over”) and for Best Voice Acting – Television for Arnett.
Can you guess which episode is #1 in our photo gallery above? Here are some of the ones near the top: “Time’s Arrow,” “That’s Too Much Man!,” “Surprise!,” “The Old Sugarman Place” and “The Showstopper.”