entertainment in the ‘90s, a celebrity struggling with depression,
but the success of the former is not due to the latter. For the most
part, the pain BoJack feels does not result in insightful or enduring
There are a few exceptions to this generalization, as there
are moments when traumatic experiences from BoJack’s past do
fuel his (uncharacteristically good) performance while filming a
movie. More often than not, however, there is no connection
between his mental illness and his work, and sometimes his
depression even gets in the way of his art. During the second
season, he moves to Arizona in the middle of filming a movie
without a word to anyone, and his performance is scrapped entirely
when replaced by a computer-generated, digital rendition. During
the third season, it is revealed that he attempted to make an artsy,
ground-breaking television series, what would be the masterpiece
of his tortured genius, but his insecurities and self-loathing took
over during development and drove the project to the ground.
BoJack is tormented by his past and his inner demons, no doubt,
but this does not lead to great art, does not make him an artistic
genius, and does not bring him fame as a groundbreaking actor. It
only leaves him feeling broken and alone. In this way, BoJack
Horseman ditches the tortured genius trope in favor of a more
honest and common embodiment of depression.
Whereas many other shows and movies feed into these and
other stereotypes, often without realization of such a misstep,
BoJack Horseman identifies commonplace problematic tropes,
acknowledges them as such, and inverts them. In the process, the
series actively fights stigma surrounding depression and depicts a
more honest and authentic narrative, inviting a deeper
understanding of what living with mental illness is truly like. It is
important for these kinds of corrections to be made and for them
to be made in the mediums that perpetuated irresponsible and
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