The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: BoJack the Feminist

When Princess Carolyn offers the role of Philbert’s partner to a disgraced celebrity with a history of racism and violence against women, BoJack inadvertently takes a stand against it and becomes a leading feminist voice. Meanwhile, Mr Peanutbutter unsuccessfully tries to toughen up his image.

A spiritual successor to Hank After Dark and Thoughts and Prayers, BoJack the Feminist is, unsurprisingly, this season’s feminist episode. As with its predecessors, it’s both thoguht-provoking and uncomfortably close to real life.

Vance Wagonner is the BoJack universe’s answer to Mel Gibson, Alec Baldwin, and pretty much every other powerful male celebrity who’s ever got away with being massively sexist or racist. Diane, the show’s resident feminist, is of course unhappy that Vance is about to win a “Forgivey” award and regain his popularity, but since she’s a woman, no one cares what she thinks. It’s only when BoJack, a man, points out that choking women is a bad thing, that people start listening and lauding him as a feminist icon.

At first, this seems like an opportunity for Diane to finally get her feminist message out – when she writes as herself, at best no one listens, and at worse angry men start calling her a ‘slunt’. If she can get BoJack to deliver her message, then people might just take heed. But of course, things aren’t that simple. First off, BoJack won’t listen to Diane’s message, and even when he does, he just gets tangled in accusations that Philbert itself is a sexist show.

Where Diane is a feminist openly struggling against the patriarchy, this episode highlights that Princess Carolyn’s outlook is quite different. Although she is an important female character, Princess Carolyn isn’t particularly feminist in and of herself. Rather than challenging the system, Princess Carolyn’s approach is to work within it, making the best of things for herself and her clients. When Vance is due to star on Philbert, she is keen to smooth things over and forgive his past transgressions – after all, that’s the Hollywoo way. It’s only when he rejects the job that Princess Carolyn decides, quite selfishly, to get behind the plan to hold him to account.

This episode’s lighter-hearted B-story features Mr Peanutbutter desperately trying to develop a tough image, in the hopes of opening up his career opportunities. Unfortunately for him, no matter what he does, he just comes across as kind and helpful. This storyline is pure fluff, but it’s a nice distraction from the heavier stuff.

Other notes

  • Remember way back in season three, when Ana somehow got rid of the tape recording of BoJack confessing to a reporter about what happened with Penny in New Mexico? Well, it turns out that she kept it all this time, and in this episode she plays the tape for Diane.
    BoJack had confessed pretty much all of his other bad behaviours to Diane, but this was the one thing he couldn’t bring himself to tell her. Now that she knows about what happened, will it change their friendship?
  • The clocks in Todd’s office reveal that Cordovia is in its own time zone, which cannot correspond to any time zone in the real world as it is not off from other cities by a whole number of hours (or even half-hours).
  • Gina now appears in BoJack’s apartment in the intro.

Summary – BoJack the Feminist: “All they need to listen to women is the right voice – a man’s voice.”

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