The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: Old Acquaintance

The success of Secretariat means BoJack has plenty of options for his next project. There’s a David Pincher unicorn fantasy movie, a niche jelly bean themed movie to be directed by Kelsey, and even Ethan Around – a Horsin’ Around spin-off. While BoJack tries to decide what to do next, Ana and Princess Carolyn have their own ideas for his career. Meanwhile, Diane and Mr Peanutbutter visit the Peanutbutter family in the Labrador Peninsula, and Todd makes some questionable business decisions for Cabracadabra.

Most episodes of BoJack come with deeper issues to discuss and explore beyond the mere face value of the events onscreen. With this episode, a lot happens – as usual – but it feels harder to tease out the overarching themes. Nonetheless, I’ll give it a go.

BoJack’s career prospects are definitely a case of “the man who chases two rabbits catches neither”. BoJack himself wants to work with Kelsey on her jelly-bean movie – a niche feature, to be sure, but one that could both mend their relationship and help him explore the spark of acting potential we saw in The Shot. Ana and Princess Carolyn, however, think that he focus on becoming a big movie star, and push for the David Pincher job. What results is a messy battle with a new agency run by none other than Rutabaga Rabitowitz and Vanessa Gekko. In the process, BoJack manages to let Kelsey down once again – although this time around it isn’t even his fault.

We also learn that, for all BoJack is usually the one betraying people and generally being an arse, Princess Carolyn isn’t above such tactics either. Not only did she try to deny a promotion to her former assistant Laura, but she even lied to Laura’s face, claiming she went out of her way to support the promotion. As with so many things in the BoJack universe, this deception comes back to haunt Princess Carolyn, hurting both her and BoJack.

Meanwhile, as planned earlier in the season, Diane and Mr Peanutbutter are off to visit the Peanutbutter family on the Labrador peninsula. Although I’m not in any way a dog person, I love the visual jokes afforded by scenes filled with yellow and chocolate labradors. We see dogs catching frisbee in their mouths, sitting when they’re told and sleeping in huge dog beds – there’s even a puppy wearing a cone of shame. But beneath all the happiness and boundless energy lies something darker, for Mr Peanutbutter’s brother Captain Peanutbutter is suffering from a twisted spleen. While he tries to fake optimism and enthusiasm around his brother, when he’s alone with Diane, he lets the mask drop, revealing a more fatalistic side. It’s almost an exaggerated version of Mr Peanutbutter’s own attitude – a cheerful and happy persona that masks occasional flashes of nihilism and negativity.

There are a lot of deep emotions running through this plot strand. Mr Peanutbutter’s admission that he and his family don’t really talk about the important stuff will likely ring true for many viewers. I know it does for me – I can chat with my family about all manner of inconsequential things, but find it really hard to ask about personal issues. In this case, it’s the outsider Diane who gets to see the darker truth, but when she tries to discuss it with Mr Peanutbutter, he becomes angry and defensive. We already know that Mr Peanutbutter trusts Diane’s judgement and insight over his own – if she’s worried, then there must be something wrong. It’s not surprising that this would make him react badly – of course he wants Captain Peanutbutter to be fine – but the way he snaps at Diane is still quite upsetting.

Finally, we do of course have the crazy Todd story. With Emily gone, Todd is running Cabracadabra on his own, and he soon manages to derail it. What started as a rideshare app for women, with only female drivers, soon becomes a service involving the sexy whale dancers from Whale World serving male customers. These days, a debate about what it means to define a women-only space would attract strident opinions from both sides, but given that this episode aired three years ago, I don’t think this was meant to be anything more than an amusing, throwaway side story to show how quickly Todd’s enterprises spiral out of control.

Other notes

  • The Rabitowitzes have been visiting the same marriage counsellor as Diane and Mr Peanutbutter. In their case, it has saved their marriage, and by the end of the episode they happily welcome seven baby rabbits into the world.
  • Sarah Lynn has been sober for eight months.
  • The lobster director David Pincher is the Hollywoo equivalent of real-life director David Fincher.
  • The intro animation has changed – BoJack’s apartment has become Cabracadabra HQ, and his boat has gone from outside.
  • The whale girls that Todd hires are from Goober’s Whale World.
  • Charley Witherspoon is now head of Vigor, after his dad ‘croaked’. Judah is also revealed to be a spy for Vigor.

Summary – Old Acquaintance: “Why do I keep letting you get my hopes up?”

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