The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: Downer Ending

Disappointed with the fact that Diane’s book depicts him as a flawed person, BoJack resolves to completely rewrite his memoir – by the end of the week. With the help of Todd, Sarah Lynn and a huge pile of drugs, BoJack sets about his task, but ends up trapped in hallucinations.

Every season of BoJack has an ‘experimental’ episode, and Downer Ending is the very first of them. With BoJack under the influence of a cocktail of drugs, the animation style is free to explore new realms – for example, BoJack sees the image of a real horse in the mirror, loses his outlines, reverts to being a stick figure, and even enters a Peanuts-esque world in which Diane gives him advice from a booth.

Along the way, we get a deep dive into BoJack’s psyche. We see his childhood, in which his mother tells him his only worth is in performing The Lollipop Song to entertain her guests. We see him on the ste of Horsin’ Around, worried that “this is all I am and all I’ll ever be”. We even see the road not taken – a future in which he went to Maine with Charlotte and they raised a daughter together. BoJack is scared that it’s too late to change his unhappy life and that, worst of all, underneath all the bad things he does, there might not be anything of worth. At the end of the episode, he pleads with Diane to tell him he’s a good person, but she can’t bring herself to answer.

We already had a pretty good idea that BoJack didn’t like himself, and this episode only confirms it. The reason he hates Diane’s honest portrayal of him is that he fears anyone who gets to know the real BoJack couldn’t possibly like him. Everyone loved the character of The Horse from Horsin’ Around because The Horse was a positive, likeable guy – and also a two-dimensional sitcom character with no room for hidden depths. Mr Peanutbutter is similar – pretty much all there is to him is his positive, energetic exterior. BoJack thinks the only way the world can love him is if he’s perceived the same way – as a flawless, larger-than-life character with no troublesome flaws or imperfections that might make people dislike him.

During the trip, BoJack once again asks Todd if he’s angry about the rock opera sabotage. Todd explains that he’s accepted that this is just how BoJack is, and that he’s decided to lower his expectations to avoid disappointment. When someone keeps letting you down, it can come as something of a relief to stop asking them for anything, to not risk getting your hopes up when you know they’ll disappoint you again. But it’s a bittersweet relief, because it comes coupled with the sadness of accepting that they won’t ever be reliable, no matter how much you might want or need them to.

First Appearance

In Prickly-Muffin, Sarah Lynn mentioned that she got her ‘out of this world’ drugs from a ‘Doctor Who’. As it turns out, she wasn’t talking about the TV series, but Dr Allen Hu.

Notes and Observations

  • BoJack buys his vacuum cleaners from ‘Beast Buy’. In a previous episode we saw ‘Bed, Burrow and Beyond’.
  • Pinky’s mug in this episode says “World’s 3rd Best Dad”.

Summary – Downer Ending: “I know that I can be selfish and narcissistic and self-destructive, but underneath all that, deep down, I’m a good person, and I need you to tell me that I’m good, Diane. Tell me, please, Diane. Tell me that I’m good.”

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