and seemingly futile search for what will make him happy is central
to his character, and the true grasp depression holds on him is
made clearer when his search goes to such extremes that are, more
often than not, better suited for animation than live action.
What about the fact that the world of BoJack Horseman is
inexplicably populated by talking animals? The approach certainly
feels Brechtian, employing absurdism in order to focus viewers’
attention on themes rather than characters or actions (Frimberger).
Brecht often drew attention to the fact that his plays were
representations of reality and not reality itself, constantly
reminding the audience that what they were watching was
constructed. Bob-Waksberg’s show similarly disconnects itself
from reality to such an extent that viewers are left wondering why.
The very nature of the show invites viewers to engage with it
critically and question what it is doing, which enables audiences to
identify the themes and issues it presents more easily. As was
Brecht’s intention with his theater, audiences can approach BoJack
Horseman with a critical perspective, become aware that the series
serves as a commentary on living with depression, and understand
messages better. Though these approaches to depicting depression
and inviting viewers engagement through a critical lens are not
impossible to accomplish in live-action narratives, they are well-
suited for animation. As such, the very form the show takes
enables BoJack Horseman not only to create a depiction of
depression that resonates but also to encourage audiences to reflect
on what messages the show attempts to communicate.
Conclusion
BoJack Horseman is an important show not only because it
is good at what it does (and funny). It is important because the
series gets right what so many other TV shows, movies, news
channels, and other media sources get wrong. As M. B. Oliver
asserts in her article in The Journal of Communication, audiences
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