There’s been a lot of talk over the last several years of television being in a golden age. As with most artistic periods, there isn’t a clear consensus on where it began nor what kicked it all off. While The Sopranos gave us long-form storytelling that managed to be episodic while gradually deepening our understanding of its characters and what they tell us about ourselves and the world we live in, it’s hard to say that all television was purely escapist beforehand when The Twilight Zone was taking audiences to strange new places in 1959 and Star Trek looked forward to a progressive future in ‘66. But one thing that has by its very essence remains consistent and unaltered by an increasingly self-reflexive medium is the sitcom. That brings us to Bojack Horseman, which is itself part of a new surge of adult-orientated animation in the U.S and Netflix-exclusive content.
One of the most peculiar things about it isn’t that it presents a world where anthropomorphised animals live alongside humans, but that it blends those goofy surface-level jokes with an emotional depth that is rarely seen even in live-action dramas. The show begins with a clip from Horsin’ Around, a sitcom about ‘young bachelor horse who is forced to re-evaluate his priorities when he agrees to raise three human children’. The show was broad, saccharine, and gave easy solutions to complex problems. It was a huge hit, and left its star Bojack Horseman with millions of dollars, a beautiful home in L.A, but no real sense of fulfilment.