The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: The New Client

Princess Carolyn looks after her baby while chatting to Todd

It’s tough working full time as a single mother – something an increasingly exhausted Princess Carolyn is only just discovering. Meanwhile, Mr Peanutbutter is having a hard time dealing with his guilt over cheating on Pickles.

At the end of last season, Princess Carolyn finally got her long held wish of having a child when she adopted Sadie’s baby porcupine, aka “Untitled Princess Carolyn Project”. Several months later, and the reality of motherhood has most certainly set in. Princess Carolyn was already a hard working career woman, so fitting in looking after a small – and spiky – new person might just push her to breaking point.

Princess Carolyn’s increasingly strained mental state is reflected in the animation style, in which we see multiple ‘echoes’ of her juggling her baby with all her other tasks. While this does get the point across very well, it does mean that this episode felt like a full-on sensory overload the first time I watched it. Second time around was a bit easier, but just be warned that you may well come away from it feeling as frazzled as Princess Carolyn!

The challenges of being a working single mother are rarely depicted well in television. There tend to be two main categories – mothers who struggle for a little while before leaving a show to give up their career and become a full-time mum, or those who have seemingly infinite childcare such that their kids rarely show up on screen. And of course, any working mum on TV is almost certain to encounter a storyline about how having a career makes them a worse mother.

With that in mind, I was hoping for something a bit more nuanced from BoJack. This episode certainly shows a lot of the challenges and assumptions that working mothers have to deal with – as Princess Carolyn juggles work, motherhood, and the constant pressure to prove that she can “have it all”. On the plus side, she certainly isn’t giving up work any time soon, and while she’s struggling with the reality of parenthood versus her initial expectations, she is working hard at that too. Most working mothers won’t be high-powered Hollywood agents, but all of them will recognise both the difficult and the rewarding moments in Princess Carolyn’s life.

Elsewhere, we see Mr Peanutbutter struggling with his guilt over cheating on Pickles by sleeping with Diane. Since this is primarily Princess Carolyn’s episode, we’re really only laying the groundwork for future developments here, but it’s clear that things will come to a head at some point.

Other notes

  • The full season six intro makes its debut in this episode. In this version of the opening animation, the sky above BoJack’s apartment is now filled with stars. We see scenes from BoJack’s life, starting with his time on Horsin’ Around, before going through some key moments from the first five seasons.
  • Princess Carolyn ultimately names her daughter Ruthie, which was the name of her imagined descendant in season four.
  • Pinkie Penguin bemoans the failure of Dick Wolf’s “Milwaukee” series of TV shows. In real life, Dick Wolf is course the creator of Law & Order, as well as the “Chicago” series of TV shows about various emergency services in Chicago.

Other good depictions of single parents on TV

  • Roz Doyle (Frasier): Roz’s daughter Alice is very much a part of her life, but she still has time and passion for her career.
  • Benjamin Sisko (Star Trek DS9): Sisko faces his share of challenges as both a father and the commander of a space station, but he makes time for both.
  • Claire Finn (The Orville): Claire’s desire for children caused her to embark on parenthood despite not having a partner – now she puts her all into raising her two sons while also serving with distinction as chief medical officer on the Orville.

Summary – The New Client: “Your arm looks pretty ripped up – is that all from needles?” “Yeah, my baby’s needles.”

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