JD Salinger’s new game show, Hollywood Stars and Celebrities, What Do They Know? Do They Know Things? Let’s Find Out, is about to film its first live episode. The show’s host, Mr Peanutbutter, welcomes the first celebrity contestant – one BoJack Horseman. Even though he claims he’s just participating in the show as a favour to Wanda, BoJack’s competitive spirit kicks in when he discovers he’s second billing to another celebrity guest – Daniel Radcliffe.
Let’s Find Out is a pretty full-on, sensory overload episode, but that’s exactly what it’s meant to be. A pastiche of ridiculously over-the-top celebrity game shows, this episode dials things up to eleven, with Mr Peanutbutter donning a sparkly pink suit to present a frenetic, fast-paced series of questions and challenges. Having failed to read the show brief, BoJack struggles to keep up with what’s going on, and soon finds himself on the wrong end of Mr Peanutbutter’s mocking jabs.
This episode is an interesting one for the BoJack/Mr Peanutbutter relationship. Mr Peanutbutter uses his role as presenter to make all sorts of jokes at BoJack’s expense, and generally comes across as a bit of a bully. But, loath as I am to admit it, Mr Peanutbutter does have good reason to dislike BoJack. BoJack is frequently mean and dismissive towards him, whilst he also seems to understand and get along with Diane better than Mr Peanutbutter does.
In fact, later in the episode, Mr Peanutbutter shows one of his rare moments of self-awareness, admitting that he does in fact realise that BoJack doesn’t like him. BoJack explains that it’s because he’s jealous – yes, BoJack has money, a lovely house, a revitalised career and a steady relationship, but fundamentally, he still struggles with unhappiness and self-loathing. Contrast with Mr Peanutbutter, who always seems upbeat and happy. It’s not even as if BoJack can point to something fundamentally different in their circumstances that explains it – both have had much the same career and life trajectories. BoJack has no external factors to blame for his unhappiness – it comes from within.
Of course, we’ve seen the occasional flash of nihilism that suggests that Mr Peanutbutter isn’t entirely the sunny idiot we were first led to believe. But we do know that he’s either consciously playing the idiot to be happy, or has done so for so long that the lie has become real.
This episode’s Todd B-story revolves around him playing around in hair and makeup, and generally annoying Mia McKibben, a mouse who has worked hard to get where she is. Mia is understandably annoyed that a slacker like Todd has been able to just luck into the job of Mr Peanutbutter’s assistant, and, worse still, she ultimately gets outsmarted by him. Of all the Todd antics so far, this felt like the most pointless.
We’re now two-thirds of the way through season two, so it’s almost surprising how much there’s left to pack in. Without giving too much away, there’s the Secretariat filming to wrap up, plus Diane’s trip to Cordovia and Princess Carolyn’s interactions with Rutabaga. We even have time for one more big Todd storyline.
- Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities is filmed live at Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which is of course the name of a short-lived Aaron Sorkin TV show.
- Todd’s “That’s the story of how I met this pen” is a clear homage to the framing set up of How I Met Your Mother.
- Mr Peanutbutter’s vocal warm up includes him saying “Good boy, good boy”.
Summary – Let’s Find Out: “You’re a millionaire movie star with a girlfriend who loves you, acting in your dream movie. What more do you want? What else could the universe possibly owe you?”