The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: Good Damage

Diane is feeling a lot better now that she’s started taking antidepressants, but one thing still eludes her – she just can’t seem to get started on her book. Meanwhile, Page and Max’s quest to find out the truth behind Sarah Lynn’s death leads them to Charlotte and Penny in New Mexico.

As I said a few episodes ago, Diane’s depression has always been the most relatable thing to me on this show, and that continues here. Now that she’s started on antidepressants, Diane is happier than she’s ever been, but writing her book seems as difficult as ever.

Although it addresses them at quite a fast pace, the episode does a good job of covering many of the issues raised by both depression and antidepressants, including:

  • What if I’m not myself on antidepressants? Diane captures this perfectly with her oxymoronic feelings of being both light and clear, but also foggy. For all that the drugs can lift those feelings of darkness and depression, they can also make people disconnected from themselves, and from very deep and personal emotions that they’ve felt for years. Diane wants to tap into her darkest and most troubled feelings for her book, but the antidepressants provide a soft, fuzzy barrier, between her and those feelings.
  • What if I’m not damaged enough?: When you’re struggling, it’s easy to feel as if you don’t deserve help, because others have it worse. In Diane’s case, she wants to write about her experiences, but is there anything really special about them? Given that she’s lived near BoJack for five years, it’s no wonder that Diane might feel that her own experiences are pedestrian and unremarkable in comparison.
  • What if it was all for nothing?: Part of what got Diane through the bad times was believing that it all meant something. It marked her out as special, as someone who would be toughened by difficult trials, and able to help others in return. If she can’t even write an illuminating book about her experiences, then what was it all for? She could have just started taking drugs years ago, instead of wasting time being unhappy. Indeed, sometimes bad things will happen to people not for any sort of grand reason, but simply because their lives intertwined with someone toxic or hurtful.

Ultimately, Diane doesn’t end up writing her intended book – instead, she finds herself working on a young adult novel about “Ivy Tran – Mall Detective”. It’s light and fun, which naturally makes Diane resist it as being less worthy than a book of essays. It takes Princess Carolyn to suggest that maybe it’s okay to write something enjoyable, instead of torturing oneself.

Personally, I think that one day Diane’s serious book may well get written, but if it is, it will be produced in bits and pieces. As Diane learns what it’s like to be happy, she might find herself able to go back and tease out all those feelings from the past and commit them to the page, as a kind of reflective writing therapy.

At the start of the season, I commented that Guy is a bit of a bland character, but also noted that he seems to be good for Diane. The latter is certainly the case here – he’s supportive throughout all of her emotional ups and downs, providing stability without melodrama.

The episode’s B-story sees Page and Max digging further into Sarah Lynn’s death by turning up BoJack’s connection with Penny and Charlotte. This ties into Charlotte’s phone call to BoJack at the end of last episode. I continue to find Page less annoying than I did first time around.

Other notes

  • Diane has “Blarn” written on her coffee cup, which is the name she used when working at Starbucks.
  • Page rhetorically asks “who taught you to drive” when talking to Penny. In fact, it was BoJack who taught her to drive way back in season two.

Summary – Good Damage: “I need to access my damage, but I’m too hopped up on goofberries.”

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