The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: After the Party

Diane has had the perfect birthday with Mr Peanutbutter – at least until he ignores her wishes and throws her a surprise party. Naturally, this leads to an argument – but what happens when everyone leaves the party and goes home?

After the Party starts with a screaming argument between Diane and Mr Peanutbutter, and picks up three separate threads of what happens next. As with the previous episode, this is probably one of my least favourite BoJack instalments, although once again this doesn’t mean it isn’t an entertaining half hour of television. Nonetheless, I’m not entirely sure what the writers were really getting at with any of these segments – if anything – so I’ll be adding a lot of thoughts and analysis that may not have even crossed their minds when they wrote the script.

Princess Carolyn and Todd

Princess Carolyn is meant to be giving Todd a ride home, but she gets distracted when she sees a kid that looks like Vincent. The kid, Kevin, comes to her apartment, where he switches between pretending to be Vincent and himself (claiming to be Vincent’s son). Although Princess Carolyn doesn’t quite get what’s going on, she does ultimately break up with Vincent.

This segment wraps up the Vincent/Princess Carolyn relationship, an amusing thread which ends with this slightly painful ‘one person pretending to be two’ routine. Where does this leave Princess Carolyn? She never quite seems to realise exactly who ‘Vincent Adultman’ is, but does the fact that she was willing to date three kids in a trenchcoat indicate how desperate she is for a connection? Did even a relationship as odd as this feel like a step up from dating BoJack?

Todd, meanwhile, spends most of the time waiting in the car, as so often happens. Of course, it’s not uneventful, as his phone ends up falling in love with Princess Carolyn’s work phone, at least until a system update corrects the problem.

BoJack and Wanda

Having invited Wanda to move in with him, BoJack now worries that things are moving too fast and will inevitably crash and burn. In between helping out a deer that BoJack accidentally hits with his car, Wanda tells him two lengthy anecdotes which eventually pay off with an amusing punchline. After all, some things just take time.

This is the first time we’ve seen BoJack properly invested in a relationship, and of course his main fear is that everything will go wrong. For BoJack, enjoying things in the moment is difficult – after all, nothing lasts forever. If a relationship ending is inevitable, why not just get the pain over and done with?

I can definitely identify with BoJack on this regard. Sometimes, it’s hard to just enjoy what you have, because you’re worrying about when it will end. You can even find yourself wishing it was over, so you can enjoy the memories of the good experience in your own time, without the uncertainty of not knowing when it will end.

I’m not sure to what level we’re supposed to experience Wanda’s anecdotes. At worst they come across as filler that toys with a different animation style, but maybe we can find something more in each of them.

The first story is about a gardener who always buys exactly the right amount of mulch for his jobs – until one time he accidentally buys one bag too many. The garden is still lovely, but the extra bag of mulch preoccupies him so much that he ends up throwing it away. If you set your bar at perfection, not only do you add a lot more stress to whatever you’re doing, but even if you fail in a really trivial and unimportant way, it can disproportionately affect you. One extra bag of mulch is no big deal – in the long run, it could surely have been used for the next job. But to the gardener, it represented the first time he’d got something even slightly wrong, and that felt unacceptable.

The second story features a woman who posts some old love letters to her ex, thinking he’ll find them amusing. This angers her current boyfriend, who worries that the ex will want to get back together with her. Whilst this sounds perfectly plausible, it does highlight how often we cast women as merely passive in romance stories. Never mind that the woman didn’t want to get back with the ex, the narrative is that she was just a possession belonging to one man, who might be stolen away by another.

Diane and Mr Peanutbutter

Even though I’ve written a lot already, this segment is actually my favourite part of the episode. Having thrown an unwelcome surprise party for Diane, Mr Peanutbutter further incurs her wrath by not believing her when she says Tony Curtis is dead, and insisting that double-checking can’t possibly hurt.

After the party breaks up, Diane remains angry that Mr Peanutbutter just doesn’t seem to listen to her – he was unwilling to take her word for it when it came to Tony Curtis, and, more fundamentally, he insisted on throwing her a party even though she has repeatedly stated that she hates parties.

In a pattern that will continue to define their relationship, Mr Peanutbutter can’t understand why Diane is so angry. He went to a great deal of time and effort to create the party, so why can’t she just be grateful? But of course, even if you make the most elaborate and amazing thing for the person you love, if they’ve already told you multiple times that it’s something they don’t like, then you can’t really expect them to welcome your gift. Of course it’s going to feel upsetting when they reject it, but the gift was never meant to be about you – if it’s for them, then their wishes are the most important thing.

As it turns out, Mr Peanutbutter has a deeper reason for lavishing attention on Diane. She’s decided to go to Cordovia with Sebastian St Clair, and he hates the idea of her being away for so long. Like any good dog, Mr Peanutbutter quietly waits on the sofa for Diane to come home from work every day. Where Diane wants to keep growing and developing and retaining her independence, Mr Peanutbutter wants to stay close to her and for things to be the same forever. Their differences lead to all the relationship friction we see on screen, but there’s just enough between them to keep them together. For every selfish thing Mr Peanutbutter does, he follows up with something just thoughtful and insightful enough to make Diane forgive him and want to continue being with him. How long can this cycle persist?

Other notes

  • Herb’s ashes are still in the back of Princess Carolyn’s car.
  • Todd mentions that people say he has a resemblance to “Octavia Spencer or the Prince of Cordovia or that guy from the Guten Bourbon ads”. While Todd certainly doesn’t look like a black woman, we will see later this season that he does resemble the Prince of Cordovia. And of course, he is the guy from the Guten Bourbon ads.
  • The deer BoJack runs over gets caught in the headlights, like a…well, you see where this is going.

Summary – After the Party: “Mr. Peanutbutter, you know I love you and think you’re a good dog, yes, you are, yes, you are, and I love your cute, funny face.”

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