than harmful afflictions with which they were burdened. The
effects of the issue on the person living with it were not as
important as condemning the issue itself and preaching the dangers
of such issues to viewers. Disorders, illnesses, and addictions are
stigmatized as bad choices rather than serious afflictions. Though
the “very special episode” billing eventually fell out favor, this
approach to dealing with serious issues persists. Many shows took
up the format as their weekly formula, dealing with such issues in
every episode. And many others continued the practice without the
“very special” billing. As such, issues that take much longer than
twenty-two minutes to depict adequately and engage with were
boiled down to stigmatized stereotypes, depression being one of
them. To depict depression, show its origins and effects, and
provide a solution for it in thirty minutes is to over-simplify the
mental illness (especially when there are no simple or easy
solutions). Such a practice necessitates reducing depression to a
stereotype.
BoJack Horseman does not treat depression as a one-and-
done issue, however, but as an ongoing one. BoJack lives and
struggles with his depression in every episode of the show. Making
depression the focus of the entire series rather than a “very special
episode” allows the series to be more honest in its depiction of
what it is like to live with depression on a daily basis and permits
more in-depth character development. For example, the series
depicts BoJack’s childhood through a number of flashbacks strung
from episode to episode, highlighting his abusive and neglectful
parents and the severe emotional damage of his upbringing. The
show often focuses on his constant search for acknowledgement
and validation from those around him, whether it is fishing for
praise for his television show, demanding recognition of his star
status, or begging to be told that he is a good person. And, as
previously stated, the series is about a character that cannot find a
166
Previous Page Next Page