The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: One Trick Pony

The movie version of the Hollywoo ‘D’ heist is being filmed, and BoJack has secured the role of Mr Peanutbutter, playing opposite Naomi Watts as Diane. However, when Todd’s ideas catch the attention of director Quentin Tarantulino, the movie becomes progressively more ridiculous. Meanwhile, Diane has finished her book – but will BoJack like what she has to say about him?

The dialogue of BoJack Horseman is always sharp and witty, but somehow this episode manages to elevate it to the next level. Whilst listening out for a good quote for the episode summary, I picked up on so many great lines. This truly is a well put together piece of television.

Once again we’ve dropped the B-story and just folded everything into a single plot – the filming of Mr Peanutbutter’s version of the theft of the Hollywoo ‘D’. Despite being annoyed at Mr Peanutbutter for taking credit for the heist, BoJack reluctantly agrees to star in the movie when Princess Carolyn tells him it could revitalise his career. However, thanks to Todd’s suggestions, the movie’s plot becomes ever more divorced from the original story.

Todd also reveals to BoJack that he knows about the rock opera sabotage, and BoJack’s initial thought is that Todd is ruining his movie in retaliation. As it turns out, Todd is not intentionally doing so, and this once again gives us an insight into Todd and BoJack’s respective personalities. BoJack’s first thought is that Todd will of course want to respond in kind to the rock opera sabotage, whereas this doesn’t even consciously occur to Todd – he’s just following his usual outlandish trains of thought with his increasingly silly plot suggestions.

In fact, this leads to a situation that’s going to be harder for BoJack to live with. What BoJack wants is for Todd to ‘get even’ with him somehow, and then for the slate to be wiped clean and their friendship to continue. As with Herb, however, Todd isn’t willing to just forgive BoJack and move on – BoJack must not only live with what he has done, but with the fact that the actions he took to keep Todd close by may ultimately drive him away.

Forgiveness is an interesting thing, and one this series will explore more than once. In episodic TV land, there’s a tendency for the narrative to be that a bad thing will be done, but ultimately, for everyone’s good – their own included – the victim must accept, forgive and move on.

It’s tempting to apply this narrative to real life as well, but as this show points out, it’s not always necessary or even reasonable to forgive someone. It can sometimes feel like something one should do – perhaps you still have mutual friends with the person who wronged you, leading to some awkwardness around social groupings and situations. Perhaps you can’t countenance the idea of having to carry around anger towards that person for the rest of your life. That’s obviously for you and your therapist to work out, but in fact, it’s okay not to forgive someone – to have the self-esteem to not just give them a pass for doing something that was so hurtful to you.

For BoJack, being forgiven and moving on is just the kind of TV happy ending that we know he craves. But elsewhere in the episode, Diane points out that happy endings aren’t everything. She tells Naomi, “the wedding was so much fun. It was the happiest day of my life. But, you know, what does that say about all the days I have left?” What comes next won’t always be magical and amazing – it will require a lot of hard work, and an acceptance that while some days will be fun, others will be difficult. And if we fetishize something like a wedding as a high point in our lives, are we automatically casting everything subsequent as being a bit of an anticlimax? Imagine if every wedding toast was a bleak “okay, well the best bit is over now”.

This episode also sees BoJack in a brief relationship with co-star Naomi Watts, only to be disappointed when it turns out she was only interested in him whilst in character as Diane. It feels like BoJack really wanted to take the relationship seriously – perhaps because he was responding to Naomi’s Diane persona, or perhaps just in response to neither Diane nor Princess Carolyn being romantically available to him.

Even with all this going on, the episode still has time to fit in BoJack reading the final draft of Diane’s book. He is less than pleased to discover that it isn’t actually a ghostwritten memoir bigging up his best days, but a truthful “This isn’t warts and all. It’s just warts” insight into his life and personality. Diane, for her part, believes this is just the thing to make people like and sympathise with BoJack – and we, as the audience, might just have to agree. After all, for all that we’ve seen how much of an arsehole BoJack is, we do still like him.

Other notes

  • Mr Peanutbutter spends the entire episode obsessing over the fact that BoJack’s Mr Peanutbutter costume uses a crew neck sweater instead of a V-neck.
  • Pinky’s mug says “Keep Clam and Carry Prawn”.
  • Angela “Jelly”, first seen on Peanutbutter and Jelly, has been in the background of many episodes since then, including this one.
  • Appropriately enough, many of the workers on the film crew are ants.
  • Princess Carolyn’s gym routine includes a workout with a giant scratching post. Other gym attendees we’ve seen over the course of the season include a cheetah on a fast treadmill, a sloth slumped over a slow treadmill, and a rodent in a hamster wheel.

Summary – One Trick Pony: “What now? I’m sick of this dog and pony show.”

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