The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: Free Churro

Following the death of Beatrice Horseman, BoJack delivers a eulogy about his mother, and his complicated relationship with both his parents.

The most clear contender for season five’s experimental episode, Free Churro mostly takes place at the funeral parlour, with the camera on BoJack as he delivers his monologue about his mother. When you add in the pre-intro scene involving young BoJack and Butterscotch, what this means is that Will Arnett is the only actor to have a speaking role in this episode. Of course, he’s well up for the challenge, and what follows is a powerful piece that summarises almost everything that is good about BoJack. There’s wordplay, references to depression, difficult family issues – the only thing missing are the animal-based visual gags.

The episode begins with Butterscotch picking up BoJack after soccer practice, because Beatrice forgot to do so. Being forced to do something for his own child is intolerable for Butterscotch, and he proceeds to rant to his son about how awful his family is. Of all the terrible parents depicted in this show, Butterscotch is definitely the most irredeemable and least forgivable – even Beatrice has the tragic past that shaped her. We can even see that some of BoJack’s worst habits – his tendency to never stick at anything and blame everyone else for his woes – originated with his father.

In the present, BoJack’s eulogy touches on all the tangled feelings that arise from his difficult relationship with his parents. Let’s canter through some quotes (because he’s a horse, see).

Usually, when people ask how I’m doing, the real answer is I’m doing shitty, but I can’t say I’m doing shitty because I don’t have a good reason to be doing shitty.”

BoJack has always been a show about depression, and this sentence really captures the experience. Of course there are classes and episodes of depression that arise from specific sad and traumatic events, but there’s also the depression that hits when there’s nothing really wrong. You know there’s nothing in particular to be sad about, and that makes things worse – why are you so sad and broken when your life is actually relatively good? What about all the people who are really suffering? It’s very easy to get caught in a spiral of meta-anxiety.

You can’t have happy endings in sitcoms, not really, because, if everyone’s happy, the show would be over, and above all else, the show has to keep going.”

BoJack was, of course, talking about a season finale in Horsin’ Around, but it applies as much to this show. I’ve already discussed this at some length in my blog post about redemption and characters who never got their happy ending. Arguably, now that we know that there will be no more BoJack after season six, that means there could be a happy ending, because the show will have ended. But from where we are in season five, it seems like it would be a stretch to get these characters to a happy ending over the course of season six. At best, I think we can hope for something ambiguous.

My mother is dead, and everything is worse now.”

BoJack talks at length about this point, and it all hits home. There’s a powerful urge to love and want to have a relationship with your parents, even when those parents turn out to be terrible people. As long as they’re alive, the smallest, deepest part of you can hold onto a grain of hope – sure, they’ve always been an awful person, but the possibility still exists that things might turn out all right, that a good relationship could be formed. Once they’re dead, that’s it. You’ve had all the interactions you will ever have with them. You’ll never know if, despite everything they said and did that indicated otherwise, on some deep level, they still loved you. BoJack himself desperately latched on to the idea that his mother saying “I see you” before she died was her way of finally acknowledging him, but as it turns out, it was just because they were in the ICU.

Summary – Free Churro: “My mom died and all I got was this free churro.”

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