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Bojack Horseman: You Are What You Do

Updated on January 26, 2016

Are you secretly a better person on the inside?

The general concept behind the "deep down" is that despite every one of your visible actions you may secretly be an angel. No one can possibly judge you based on anything you may do. Remember, it's only what's on the inside that matters? That phrase has been used a lot in the past decade to excuse bullies' behavior, by assuming they're just abused and if anyone would just try to be kind enough to accept the abuse and be friends everything will be fine. Unfortunately, that's not always how it works out. Do you really feel qualified to judge a human's entire life up to the very present to explain a behavior? Most people do, most people also shouldn't. That guy at work that's always putting you down? He doesn't secretly want more friends, he's just an asshole who enjoys spreading misery.

In short, the answer is no; there is no secret ‘better' version of you. You can work to better your current self. Which is great! Nobody’s perfect, humans suck, we all need work; but a pre-existing model Self that you can just tap into does not.

The show Bojack Horseman, created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, is a great example of this concept in TV form, spread across 24 episodes in 2 seasons (a 3rd season is scheduled for sometime in 2016).

8.3/10 from IMDb

4 stars for Bojack Horseman

This American animated show takes place in a world of anthropomorphic animals living alongside humans, as if nature has not completely failed us. The deep, complex issues you're hit with are delivered in an absurdist format. Possibly to keep your mind off of the fact that all the female animals have human breasts. Or maybe not.

Anyway, the basic plot follows the life of a hit sitcom actor from the 90's, two decades later, as he fights to climb out of public obscurity.

You don't want to stay in the void of obscurity too long
You don't want to stay in the void of obscurity too long | Source

All you are, are the things you do

In S1, ep12 Bojack asks Diane, his best friend and personal ghost writer, if she thinks he’s a good person deep down, knowing all of his terrible history. She says she doesn’t believe in the concept of ‘deep down’; "I kind of think all you are, are the things that you do." It seems like a simple concept; if you do “good”, you are good, if you do bad, you’re bad. Of course there are plenty of people who are otherwise decent human beings, making horrible decisions. But that wasn’t what Bojack was asking. He was asking Diane to tell him he's a good person so he doesn't have to feel any remorse for his actions.

Bojack is in absolutely no shape or form a "good" person. He is incredibly verbally abusive to just about any human creature in his vicinity; girlfriend, friends, acquaintances, crew members, wait staff.. Until season 2 when he attempts to artificially change himself.

Artificial change? What does that even mean! That’s not a real term, unless we’re discussing financial policies, I Googled it! True, it’s not a real technical term, but a combination of words to simply describe a concept! This excerpt from Wikipedia on the word “Artificiality” may help you understand – “Artificiality (also called factitiousness, or the state of being artificial or man-made) is the state of being the product of intentional human manufacture, rather than occurring naturally, through processes not involving or requiring human activity.”

You know, you can't escape you.

— Charlotte

Just like that weird, meaty sludge in the frozen section that dares call itself Salisbury Steak, Bojack has been working on making his gross, meaty inner-sludge into the shape of a Decent Person-Horse That Is Not A Secret Monster. Excuse the possible implied condescension; I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page here. This is actually a serious matter now. Not all sludge-beings artificially change themselves to strike from the shadows. Most are actually pretty okay people with the noble goal to just… be a better human. Unfortunately laziness strikes, and people try to take a shortcut. Most shortcuts (apparently the youngins call them ‘lifehacks’ now) are awesome. This one, however, creates the holier-than-thou garbage that plagues all online discourse.

I'm sorry Banquet, but you've hurt me too many times.
I'm sorry Banquet, but you've hurt me too many times.

Throughout season 2 it almost seems like Bojack is turning himself around! He drives states away to visit his old friend for.. basically selfish reasons but turns around once he gets along with her family. He's being a responsible adult, learning how to function among a familial unit. It's touching! Really. And then... he's caught about to commit statutory rape. And then you remember who Bojack is. Apparently worse than you thought.

You go from (if you're that sort of person) rooting for him, to idly standing by looking out for the next atrocious crime he'll commit. On the upside the character development is great and I'm honestly feeling.. some sort of emotion thinking about Bojack's friends back home finding out what he did out of state. If you have Netflix and need something to distract yourself from your pitiful existence, Bojack Horseman is a pretty good distraction.

Crippling depression and self-loathing makes for the best humor!
Crippling depression and self-loathing makes for the best humor! | Source

Saying I love this show is an understatement. I don't know if it's a mix of me attempting to get over my debilitating fear of horses, or various disorders that make the show incredibly relatable, but I can't stop rewatching all seasons every couple of months. It just... reminds me I'm a living human being. And I'm not alone.


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