These examples may be live-action, but they both utilize
absurdist and surrealist storytelling techniques in order to enhance
their depictions of depression. While this approach is certainly not
impossible in live-action, it is far more easily achieved (technically
and financially) in animation. And BoJack Horseman is not the only
cartoon show that deals with depression and that does so
effectively. Adventure Time features the depressed Ice King living at
the top of an ice-cold mountain, isolated from most other living
beings, and the series depicts his mental illness as originating from
a magic crown that he cannot take off lest he die. Rick and Morty
depicts a scientific genius infinitely smarter than anyone else on
earth so that he feels isolated from everyone whose intergalactic
and inter-dimensional adventures are often escapes from or
embodiments of his isolation and depression.
Similarly, the absurdist world of BoJack Horseman is very
much intentional and enhances its ability to evoke mental illness
with an emotional honesty missing in other shows. For one thing,
the lavish lifestyle BoJack lives and the insane and pricey things he
spends his seemingly endless supply of money on are all easier to
depict in animation than in live action. During the second season,
BoJack buys a yacht, rides in it as it is towed across the country,
and then sails across the sea chasing a cruise ship in order to rescue
his best friend. While not impossible to depict in live action, such
a plotline is certainly easier and cheaper to accomplish through
animation. BoJack gets himself into similarly outlandish antics and
goes to absurd extremes to try to escape, or at the very least to
block out, his self-loathing and depression. He throws wild parties,
often over multiple days, that result in substantial damage to his
property; he goes on intense drug trips, which give him bizarre
hallucinations and visions of the past, future, and alternate
timelines of the present; yet, no matter what he does or what he
buys for himself, he is unable to find happiness. That never-ending
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