There are amazing stories out there, being told everyday via every possible medium. However, BoJack Horseman is one of those life-changing shows that rarely come by. The show is perfection in how it deals with trauma, mental illnesses, addiction, nature of politics and workplace environment, in short, life, warts and all.
The show’s protagonist, BoJack is a washed up sitcom actor of the 90’s, who is deeply unhappy in the present day. The show follows him, often failing, as he struggles with the pieces of his life falling around him. During the show, BoJack takes some not so great decisions that cost him and everyone around him great many things. Let’s take a look at the worst of BoJack.
1. His Treatment of his Mother
Beatrice Horseman was not the best mother, or person. In fact, she was downright abusive to BoJack throughout his life. Growing up, she inflicted insane amounts of pain and trauma onto Bojack that defined his adulthood of self-destruction, addiction and depression.
Every time BoJack spirals into doing extremely harmful, borderline illegal stuff, it can be traced back to trauma response to something Beatrice did. If messing up BoJack weren’t enough, later, Beatrice starts on the same path with Hollyhock, BoJack’s long lost step sister. Beatrice doesn’t approve of Hollyhock’s body and in order to make her lose some weight, starts giving her amphetamine doped coffee. This ends extremely badly with Hollyhock in the hospital and lifelong PTSD.
However, even though Beatrice’s actions are irredeemable and nothing can justify them, there is an explanation for it. Beatrice grew up in a horrifyingly abusive household herself. After the death of her brother in WW2, her mother Honey got hysteric and depressed and eventually lobotomized. This turnout of events scarred Beatrice for life and made her into the cruel, sardonic, depressed and alcoholic maniac that we see on the show.
In season 4, Beatrice is shown to have dementia in the present day. However, even in a demented state, she isn’t kind to BoJack, much to his grievance. Eventually, BoJack leaves her to die in a cheap nursing home. What BoJack chose to do to his mother is definitely questionable. However, in the episode Free Churro, we get to understand the complexities of being a victim of abuse where the abuser is your primary caregiver and the scope of intergenerational trauma.
2. Strangling Gina
Gina Cazador was BoJack’s co-star on a detective show “Philbert”. Gina had been struggling with getting persistent fame as none of her previous shows took off beyond one season. “Philbert” turned out to be her big break and she gained recognition for her talent. Moreover, Gina and BoJack develop a romantic relationship on the side.
This all comes to a halt after an unfortunate incident. BoJack develops an opiod addiction after going through a painful accident. During an episode of an opiod high, BoJack strangles Gina.
Gina forces BoJack to not accept this in front of the media because this would forever tarnish the fame she gained for herself. However, Gina develops intense PTSD afterwards and not being able to talk about it makes things worse. She becomes difficult to work with and constantly throws fits over minor changes. Gina panics over anyone getting physically close to her in a way she doesn’t anticipate. This gets labeled as “difficult behavior” in an insanely competitive industry.
3. Betraying Herb
Herb Kazzaz was BoJack's former best friend and mentor, as well as a talented comedian, who created and wrote Horsin' Around. Herb asked BoJack to star in the show to which BoJack gladly agreed.
The show gave Bojack and Herb their due recognition. However, Herb’s position was threatened after he was caught having an affair with a man. Herb came out to BoJack and asked him to stand up for his best friend. If BoJack threatened to leave the show in case Herb was fired, the studio would have to bend to his whim and not fire Herb.
BoJack agreed to help Herb at first, however, he later backtracked, getting Herb fired. Wracked with guilt, BoJack cuts off all contact with Herb and continues on the show as if nothing happened. Years later, in the present day, BoJack learns Herb is dying of cancer.
BoJack reaches out, seeking closure and forgiveness. Herb however, refuses BoJack that satisfaction. He calls out BoJack’s selfish motivations and states he won’t make BoJack feel better about his bad decisions. In an uncomfortable sequence of events, we see BoJack’s inability to take accountability for his actions and his entitlement that led him to believe he deserves forgiveness, no matter the harm he caused.
4. Charlotte and Penny
Charlotte Carson used to be a friend to BoJack and Herb’s girlfriend in their youth. Charlotte left for Maine before “Horsin’ Around” took off. BoJack always saw her as “the one that got away” since he had a tiny crush on her.
In the show’s 2nd season, BoJack ran away to New Mexico to pursue this crush in hopes to rekindle with his past self who was simpler and happier. However, Charlotte had now built a life of her own with a husband and two kids. Charlotte’s eldest daughter Penny, bonds with BoJack.
BoJack in turn, crashes her prom and gives a bunch of teenagers alcohol. The night spiraling out of control culminates in BoJack almost kissing the 17 year old before Charlotte catches him in the action. Their relationship is instantly, permanently severed with no scope for redemption for BoJack as Charlotte asks him to leave. Not to mention, the incident leaves Penny traumatized and scarred for life.
5. Betraying Kelsey and Never Apologizing
Kelsey Janning was an Indie film director before being cast as the director for Secretariat. During the shooting of the film, BoJack convinced Kelsey into breaking into the White House. This reckless move resulted in them shooting a great scene. However, Kelsey got fired for it. In usual BoJack fashion, he took no responsibility for it at the time. When he finally did get around to attempting to make things right, it was too little, too late.
A few years later, Kelsey reaches out to BoJack and offers him another role, recognising his potential as an actor. BoJack enthusiastically agrees first but loses interest later on as his agency demands more money. He leaves Kelsey hanging and the window of opportunity passes her by.
6. Bradley Hitler-Smith
His name isn’t the only misfortune in Bradley’s life. Bradley plays Ethan, one of the children on Horsin’ Around. While BoJack bonds with other children just fine, he’s never able to do so with Bradley. This is because, during the show’s running, BoJack had been sleeping with Bradley’s mother.
As an adult. Bradley runs a hardware store, still itching to get back in showbiz. He plans on starting a sequel to Horsin’ Around called Ethan Around. Bradley never contacts BoJack as he assumes BoJack would want nothing to do with it.
When BoJack hears of it, his ego makes him want to do it. He gives his word to Bradley about starring in the show. However, in natural BoJack fashion, BoJack bails on it, cowardly telling Bradely he has a busy schedule. When Bradley is persistent, BoJack makes his publicist shut Bradley down harshly.
Later, in an effort to make amends, BoJack reaches out to Bradley and asks him to start the show. However, when he encounters Chloe, a child actor who reminds him of Sarah Lynn, BoJack freaks out and runs away, leaving Bradley with no explanation.
7. His Relationship with Diane
Diane Ngyuen and BoJack have developed a heartwarming friendship over the years. Their path to becoming kindred souls however, has been filled with BoJack shaped rocks. BoJack meets Diane in the pilot.
She’s been hired as the ghost writer to BoJack’s autobiography. The two click well, and BoJack develops a crush on her. However, he soon finds out Diane is dating Mr. Peanut Butter, the bane of BoJack’s existence. Naturally, he becomes envious and tries to break them apart with his demented schemes.
Later, he starts visiting Diane’s therapist behind her back, after she explicitly asked him not to do that exact thing. The therapist ends up dropping Diane as a patient as BoJack needs her more. However, in true BoJack fashion, he bails on the therapist too, leaving everyone empty handed and worse off. Worst of all, BoJack left a voicemail for Diane before trying to kill himself. Diane had been in a really good place before this. However, learning later on that BoJack had survived pushed Diane into anger and depression.
Todd Chavez was the purest character on the show. In the beginning, Todd is introduced as a happy-go-lucky, well meaning slacker who has been living on BoJack’s couch, doing nothing. BoJack constantly berates and abuses Todd who takes it all in the name of friendship. BoJack just has him around because Todd makes him feel better about his existence.
Contrary to most people’s opinions however, Todd has some very unique talents and occasionally great ideas. He often ventures out following his variety of brain children and a desire to help people with varying degrees of success. However, he would have been a lot better of had BoJack not been constantly sabotaging him.
While Bojack berates Todd for being useless, the moment Todd is on the cusp of achieving something, Bojack gets insecure. He sabotaged Todd’s Rock Opera when it was getting successful. Worst of all, BoJack slept with Emily, Todd’s ex and now very good friend. What’s worse is he simple did it out of convenience and selfishness.
9. Keeping Princess Carolyn on a Hook
At the start of the series, Princess Carolyn was BoJack’s girlfriend and his agent. For years she is constantly putting out fires that BoJack would start indulging his self-centred and self-destructive impulses. She rose to the top of her game as an agent through sheer talent and hard work.
However, BoJack never valued her for who she was. He used her to boost his ego as he could always count on her. Even through years of on again off again relationship, Princess Carolyn’s professionalism was never affected. She continued to devote herself to BoJack’s aid in both personal and professional capacity.
When Princess Carolyn started her own agency, she was struggling with finding her balance at first. A mistake from her end cost BoJack two jobs and instead of cutting her some slack, he fires Princess Carolyn. She is understandably hurt claiming it was one mistake in 23 long years of picking up his pieces but BoJack is adamant. This actually turned out to be a good thing for PC. Once she freed herself from BoJack’s shackles, she was able to turn things around for her, both personally and professionally.
10. The Life and Death of Sarah Lynn
Everything BoJack has done to other people is nothing compared to what he did to Sarah Lynn. The story of Sarah Lynn is arguably the most tragic one out of everyone. As a child star, Sarah Lynn was desperate for BoJack’s approval. This was an opportunity for BoJack to be a positive influence in someone’s life. However, of course Bojack absolutely botched it by giving her cold shoulder and terrible advice to “never stop dancing”.
Following the success of the show, Sarah Lynn becomes a successful popstar. BoJack once goes to visit her after a concert. At first she is delighted to see him. However, she loses heart upon knowing BoJack just visited her because he wanted her on his show.
Years later, a 30 years’ old Sarah Lynn pays BoJack a visit. She is now an addict and her fame has faded. BoJack tried to play the role of a responsible dad and it goes as well as can be expected. In a twisted turn of events, the two fight and end up sleeping together. When BoJack tries to fix the mess, a disinterested Sarah Lynn leaves.
A few years later, Sarah Lynn is on a journey of sobriety, being 9 months sober. BoJack goes to her after losing an Oscar nomination and takes her on a drug fueled bender, exploiting her for his self-motivated escapade. After a series of absolutely disastrous events, BoJack takes Sarah Lynn to a planetarium. There she overdoses on heroin, sleeps and never wakes up.
However, that’s not the worst of it. When BoJack noticed Sarah Lynn OD-ing, he did not call the police instantly. He panicked and wasted 17 minutes before calling emergency services. Those 17 minutes could have saved Sarah Lynn’s life. However, Bojack’s fatal flaw of not being able to take any responsibility of himself and the people in his life, caused Sarah Lynn to die in the arms of the person (or horse), responsible for her death.
Thanks for reading!