Bojack Horseman, the character, is unlucky in love. But Bojack Horseman, the show, argues that it has little to do with luck— it’s all Bojack’s fault.
Transcript provided by Youtube:
Bojack Horseman, the character, is unlucky in love.
But Bojack Horseman, the show, argues that it has little to do with luck
His romantic misery is all Bojack’s fault.
[I’m responsible for my own happiness? I can’t even be responsible for my own breakfast.]
The series follows the former star’s search for meaning and happiness, and one of his
essential coping mechanisms is filling his inner void with romantic relationships.
[I actually kind of hate myself a lot of the time. But when I’m with you, I, uhh, don’t hate myself.]
But in fact, Bojack knows very little about love is.
He received none as a child, and as an adult became accustomed to the superficial kind
that accompanies fame.
[If I’m going to sacrifice my journalistic integrity, it’s because I’m having sex with a movie star.]
For real love, people have to be willing to adapt and compromise in order to find success
in a partnership.
And some of the characters in Bojack’s Hollywoo are willing and able to work on themselves.
Bojack, on the other hand, is stuck in an endless loop: he seeks validation from others,
but feels unworthy of it.
[I don’t know how you can expect anyone else to love you, when you so clearly hate yourself.]
He wants to be reassured that he’s a good person, but he only ever does bad things.
[I kind of think all you are is just the things you do.]
He thinks he could be happy if someone would love him, but he has to love himself first–
and he can’t until he accepts the mundane, unglamorous, everyday work of doing decent things.
[You can’t force love you blockhead. All you can do is be good to the people in your life.]
This is actually a lesson Bojack taught himself during a drug-fueled vision back in season one.
You have to do good to be good.
[But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part.]
But it’s a lesson that he continues to struggle with, as the series continues to teach us
that love, and life, are hard work that we have to wake up every day and repeat.
So here’s what we’ve learned — even if Bojack hasn’t — from his failed romantic endeavors so far:
When we first meet Bojack, he’s in an on-again off-again casual relationship with Princess
This arrangement gets Bojack the love he claims to want.
[You’re my lighthouse. My Garmin. You’re the little plastic table they put in pizza boxes to keep the
pizza from getting smushed.]
She’s always there when he needs her, enabling his self-obsessed dependence on others.
None of this satisfies Bojack, though, because he only knows how to take more from people.
He can’t be fulfilled when a woman gives him everything, because everything’s not
Unsure, Princess Carolyn may be partially to blame here:
[And I compulsively take care of other people when I don’t know how to take care of myself.]
But she shows signs of growth as the series progresses, grappling with her struggle to
balance work and love.
Bojack, on the other hand, won’t take responsibility for his mistreatment of Princess Carolyn until
And by then she’s already moved on.
Watching her grow while he makes excuses why he can’t change reveals to us that Bojack
is choosing to remain stuck in his self-indulgent ways.
[Sometimes I feel like I was born with a leak, and any goodness I started with just slowly spilled
out of me, and now it’s all gone.
And I’ll never get it back in me.
It’s too late.]
Bojack says it’s too late because the other option would be actually become a better person,
and that’s hard work.
Princess Carolyn is all about hard work, though, so she and Bojack were probably never meant
The first woman we see Bojack grow close to is Diane, who remains an elusive romantic
partner, while becoming his most intimate relationship.
[Am I attracted to her? Sure. Are my days better when I’m around her? Yeah.
[Does she get me in ways no woman ever has? indubitably.]
The series continues to explore their deeply felt connection but maintains that they’re
not meant to be lovers: Diane and Bojack are, counterintuitively, far too similar to ever
make it work.
They both suffer from anxiety and depression, and they’re both aware of how their shortcomings
can negatively affect others.
Their pairing would only enable both of them to wallow in self-pity and self-loathing.
[I’m not like you, okay? I don’t fetishize my own sadness.]
[I don’t fetishize my own sadness.]
Diane needs the opposing positive force of Mr. Peanut Butter’s optimism and kindness,
and she knows it.
She works on her marriage through several obstacles because she wants to.
[I know I don’t always have the right words, and I don’t always have the right feelings,
But I love you so much, and I need you to know that.]
Bojack also needs Mr. Peanut Butter to be his ideological rival, and to potentially to help
him learn to become a better man.
[I want to feel good about myself. The way you do. And I don’t know how.]
Mr. Peanut Butter analyzes his own worldview, while Bojack’s stubbornness prevents him
from changing how he thinks about life.
His complacency of thought is to his detriment. He proceeds to ruin a relationship
with a woman who could have been, for him, what Mr Peanut Butter is for Diane, an uplifting
force of positivity.
Bojack gets a fresh start when he meets Wanda.
The blank slate gives him an opportunity to be his best self:
[I want to DO things with you. Fully clothed. Sober. In daylight hours. Do you want to go to Disney Land?]
But Bojack’s true nature is quickly revealed to the owl:
[My life was ruined by a network executive like you.
[Well, I’m sorry that things have been so hard for you. But that doesn’t give you the right to be shitty to me.]
Bojack doesn’t use Wanda like he did Princess Carolyn, and her optimism makes her a foil to Diane,
but because Bojack won’t change his cynicism, he loses her anyway.
With this relationship, the show argues that love at first sight can’t always survive
upon deeper inspection of your partner.
With Wanda, he had the chance to be anyone, including the good person he claims he wants
to be. But instead he just wants someone to make him feel better, while he continues
taking the easy path, which, ironically, makes him hate the life he’s chosen.
When his relationship with Wanda fails, Bojack retreats from reality and seeks comfort
away from LA, in his fantasy about the one that got away and the life that “could have
[What are you thinking about?]
[Just how nice things could’ve been if you had chosen this life.]
With Charlotte, and her daughter Penny, Bojack seeks the love he believes he could have had
if only he’d made different choices in his life.
In trying to relive and recapture his past, however, Bojack only makes more selfish choices
in the present.
By giving in to Penny’s advances, and his own desires, Bojack once again reveals the
depravity he’s capable of.
By nearly sleeping with his former girlfriend’s daughter, Bojack destroys his relationship
with Charlotte, and his mental picture of a more blissful divergent life.
The errors Bojack makes here are emblematic of his truest self:
[It doesn’t matter where you are, it’s who you are.]
Bojack is someone who hurts others, not considering any ramifications
other than immediate gratification.
What becomes clear is that Bojack fails at relationships because he can’t place someone
else’s needs first– he can’t even work toward his own long-term well-being because
he doesn’t understand that lasting happiness is progressive, built over time on a firm
Being happy isn’t instant, but Bojack’s philosophy of life that feeling good now is all that
matters ultimately leads to his suicide attempt.
Instead of doing the work, he keeps trying to press a “do-over” button on his life,
either by ending it or by meeting a new woman to fill the hole.
Bojack wants a relationship to make him feel happy, but the show maintains that it has
to start with him.
[You need to be better.]
Bojack Horseman is aware of his problems — that he’s self-destructive, weak, and too dependent
on others for his own happiness– and he knows that he’s doing everything we’re talking
about here, yet this awareness doesn’t itself lead to change.
[I can’t keep lying to myself saying I’m going to change.
Bojack has been taught since his childhood that he is not worthy of love, and so far
he hasn’t been able to surmount this deeply ingrained belief.
[You can fill your life with projects, your books and your movies and your little girlfriends
but that won’t make you whole. You’re Bojack Horseman. There’s no cure for that.]
Perhaps the way out of his misery could be through a more healthy experience with
We’ve seen throughout the series that Bojack cares about his television family, and bears
some of the burden for the death of Sarah Lynn, so perhaps the newest woman poised to
enter his life– a teenaged horsegirl that’s very probably Bojack’s daughter — could
be just what he needs to make a change for good.
[It’s never too late to be the person you want to be.]
Yet if we’ve learned anything from his relationships, it’s that a new and exciting person entering
his life isn’t enough.
The change has to come from within, and he has to grit his teeth through the boring effort
of being better, every day.
Otherwise, no luck in the world can save Bojack’s personal life, and he’s doomed to repeat
the same mistakes, over and over, while expecting different results.
[There are going to be times when you’ll see someone in trouble. You’re going to want to rush in there and
do whatever you can to save them. But you have to stop yourself. Because there are some people you can’t save.]
[What does that have to do with me?]
This post was previously published on Youtube.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Screenshot from video