The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: Mr Peanutbutter’s Boos

Every Halloween for the last 25 years, Mr Peanutbutter has invited himself and a vast array of guests to have a party at BoJack’s house. Over the years, he’s brought along his various wives and girlfriends – Pickles in 2018, Diane in 2009, Jessica Biel in 2004, and Katrina way back in 1993.

Here we have yet another episode playing with storytelling style, as we switch between four different Halloween parties in four different years. On paper – and indeed first time around – I didn’t care that much for this episode. I am, of course, no fan of Mr Peanutbutter, and I’ve somewhat gone off Halloween as its popularity in the UK has risen. However, when you scratch beneath the surface, there’s some really good character exploration here.

Key to this episode are Mr Peanutbutter’s past relationships – and their subsequent failiures. Through the medium of four Halloween parties, we explore exactly why that might have happened.

From past seasons, we already know that Mr Peanutbutter isn’t good at listening, or empathising with viewpoints that differ from his own. No matter how many times Diane told him she hated parties and grand gestures, he never seemed to get it – since he loves those things, he could never truly believe that anyone else didn’t.

Here, we see that back in the Katrina days, he was similarly inattentive to his wife’s needs. Katrina is desperate not to be left alone in a sea of people she doesn’t know, but because that situation would be no big deal for Mr Peanutbutter, he doesn’t understand how important it is to her. Instead of prioritising Katrina’s needs, he just rushes headlong into the party – just as he would have done if he had been alone.

Arguably, he did at least try to help Jessica – and her issue is more played for laughs anyway – but even here, disaster might have been averted. If Mr Peanutbutter had listened and understood that she meant “The Notebook” instead of “dress as a notebook”, his unwieldy costume wouldn’t have got in the way of being able to protect her from mummy-BoJack.

With Diane, we touch again on one of the season’s recurring themes – how much you need to alter yourself to have a happy relationship with your partner. Knowing how much Mr Peanutbutter loves parties, Diane tries to assume a fun-loving persona, but ultimately fails. In this case, we can’t yet blame Mr Peanutbutter for his future failures to accommodate Diane’s needs, but his insistence on pushing her out of her comfort zone to go and talk to BoJack doesn’t end well. That’s not to say we should never give our loved ones a little push when they need it, but as we know, Mr Peanutbutter is hardly a good judge of nuanced emotional situations.

In 2018, Mr Peanutbutter finally has a girlfriend who loves parties, but even here he handles the situation badly. He lacks the tact to stop talking endlessly about all of his ex-wives, even when it’s clearly making Pickles uncomfortable. Pickles is probably the most light-hearted and fun-loving girlfriend Mr Peanutbutter will ever have, and yet he still manages to upset her at the party.

As Mr Peanutbutter ponders exactly why all his relationships go wrong, it is Diane, with the benefit of hindsight, who provides the answer. Mr Peanutbutter is the eternal man-child, biologically in his late forties, but mentally still a twenty-year-old. Most people continue to grow up and mature throughout their lives, and in a lot of long-term relationships, that’s something the participants will do together. But Mr Peanutbutter is static and unchanging, so as the young twentysomethings he goes out with start to mature, they inevitably outgrow him.

It feels like it’s necessary for a person to grow and develop throughout their life, but is that always the case? Could someone reach the point of being ‘just right’ in early adulthood, and never need to develop further? While it seems like it might just be possible that that could happen, the world itself is always changing. Unless you too can adapt to the way in which your circumstances and the people around you might alter over the years, it seems unlikely that you could remain ‘just right’ for very long.

Mr Peanutbutter certainly seems happy as he is, but we’ve seen from his occasional flashes of nihilism that that might not be the whole story. The season six trailer also hints that this point might be explored further in upcoming episodes.

Other notes

  • Every year, Princess Carolyn dresses as her idol Amelia Earhart for Halloween.
  • The “celebrity stealing club” from season one are seen stealing from BoJack’s apartment in 2018.
  • Various recurring characters and celebrities can be spotted at the different Halloween parties, including David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Jorge Garcia, Hank Hippopopalous and Pinky Penguin. Erica is also present, albeit offscreen.
  • We learn that BoJack met Diane in 2009, before their apparent initial meeting in season one. However, since Beatrice had phoned to inform him of Butterscotch’s death, he was too preoccupied to register or remember the meeting.
  • The 2009 Halloween party was also when Todd started living with BoJack. He and Emily had previously TP-ed BoJack’s house in 2004.

Summary – Mr Peanutbutter’s Boos: “Why do all these idealistic, vivacious women eventually turn bitter and cruel after being with me? What’s the common denominator?”

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