The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: The Face of Depression

BoJack has returned to LA, but when memories of his past make staying at home unbearable, he decides to travel round the country to visit his friends. Meanwhile, Mr Peanutbutter embarks on a tour as the new national face of depression.

BoJack season six was released in two halves, and we are almost to the end of the first half. Even though there’s another episode to go in this batch, much of this episode is about setting things up for part two.

First off, we have BoJack, who has finally come home from rehab. His apartment is filled with all the bad memories of the past, so instead he decides to get out of LA. First stop on his journey is Chicago, where Diane is alone while Guy is out of town. Ever since she attempted to start work on her book, Diane has been struggling with depression, but even so, she resists the suggestion that she start on antidepressants.

BoJack’s depression and self-loathing has always been core to his tangled and difficult personality, but throughout the series it’s been Diane’s more low key depiction of mental illness that I’ve identified with. Where BoJack is about extremes of bad behaviour, Diane’s experience is closer to what someone might experience in real life. She’s stuck in a place of feeling miserable about herself and the world, and fearing that Guy will leave her once the shiny veneer of a new relationship wears off and he sees the “real Diane”. At the same time, she’s reluctant to take antidepressants, for fear that they might rob her of a key part of who she is.

Following his visit to Diane, BoJack also drops in on Hollyhock at Wesleyan university. Upon hearing that the professor of acting has quit, BoJack becomes quite taken with the idea of applying for the job himself. Could this be the next chapter in the BoJack Horseman story?

Fresh starts

In fact, this episode sees pretty much all of the main characters making changes in their lives that will resonate throughout the rest of the season.

  • BoJack: We learn that BoJack has been dyeing his hair black all this time, and actually started going grey some twenty years ago. In this episode, he gets a new haircut and finally gets rid of the dye job. He also takes the acting teacher job at Wesleyan.
  • Diane: at the end of the episode, we see that Diane has gained weight, indicating that she did start on the antidepressants after all.
  • Princess Carolyn: after chatting to BoJack, Princess Carolyn realises that she needs help balancing her desire for a high-flying career with her responsibilities to Ruthie. She ends up re-hiring Judah to help out at the company.
  • Todd: not only is Todd enjoying his new job as a nanny, but he finally gets a match on the asexual dating app.

But what of Mr Peanutbutter? He is not one of the characters who suffers from depression, but thanks to Princess Carolyn’s machinations in the previous episode, he has now become the national face of depression. When I saw a snippet of this in the season six trailer, I assumed that the occasional flashes of nihilism we see from Mr Peanutbutter were going to be explored, but in fact, this storyline is being played for the irony – while other characters privately struggle with depression, it is the happiest, sunniest character of all who becomes the face of depression.

First appearances

  • Maude: a rabbit working at “Cinnabunny” at the airport. She is asexual (but not aromantic), and also enjoys coming up with outlandish ideas for business ventures.

Other notes

  • At BoJack’s first AA meeting, the only snack available is honeydew melon – the fruit he hates the most.
  • Both Princess Carolyn and Lenny Turteltaub have incorrect names on their Starbucks cups.
  • Pickles has now cheated on Mr Peanutbutter over thirty times, but still doesn’t have the emotional closure she craves.
  • In the world of BoJack, Salt Lake City’s equivalent is “Salt Lake Kitty”, as seen on the airport departure board.

Summary – The Face of Depression: “Narcissist? I thought the painting was about me.”

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