slate is written upon, and the opportunity present by the fresh start
is lost. BoJack feels he is only capable of being loved by someone
if they do not know him because anyone who really knows what
he is like could not possibly love him.
Another common trope is The Tortured Genius; in these
stories, depression is the romanticized burden of an artistic
mastermind or a brilliant savant. This depiction suggests the inner
demons of mental illness serve as the source of creative success,
which indicates an inherent link between creativity and mental
illness, as if the torment is part of the gift (Klein). It may seem like
a curse, but it is really a blessing because it leads to such artistic
genius. This portrayal is grounded in the idea that “great art comes
from great pain.” While that certainly can be true, it is not always
true. Great art can also come from great joy, great boredom, great
luck, and many other sources. Moreover, great pain does not
always produce great art. As Lloyd Sederer, medical director of the
New York State Office of Mental Health, explains, “Sometimes
you have the two combined. When you have geniuses who have
such prominence, like Philip Seymour Hoffman or Robin Williams
or John Nash, they make you think that this is more common than
it is” (qtd. in Klein). The Tortured Genius trope romanticizes
mental illness as a blessing and a curse; it is torment glamorized
with a silver lining and the price to be paid for such creative
brilliance. The Aviator (2004), Amadeus (1984), A Beautiful Mind
(2001), Frida (2002), and many other films and television shows
reinforce the illusion that this phenomenon is more common than
it actually is.
BoJack Horseman also quickly does away with the idea of the
tortured genius, making it immediately apparent that BoJack’s
former sitcom Horsin Around was no artistic masterpiece, that it did
not come from a place of great pain, and that BoJack himself is no
genius. He is an actor who made low-brow television
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