When Netflix’s popular satire of the Hollywood scene, Bojack Horseman, first debuted, it became an instant success. The animated show follows talking animals and humans as they both live their day-to-day lives in the zoo that is the Hollywood lifestyle. Focusing on washed-up Hollywood actor Bojack Horseman, the shows darker themes and humor help distinguish it from other modern comedies.
Plus, with an all-star cast such as Will Arnett and Alison Brie, the show is a perfect example of balancing satirical elements with dark, real-world situations. Much like Bojack himself, however, the show goes through its periods of ups and downs. Here are the top 5 best and worst episodes from Netflix’s series, Bojack Horseman.
10 “Say Anything” S1E7 (Worst)
As a slightly lower-tier episode from the early days, “Say Anything” follows Princess Carolyn as she tries to find a nice balance between her career and herself. Throughout the episode, she continually tries to change her personality to be more determined and headstrong. Yet, Bojack, (who is having an emotional breakdown) keeps getting in her way. His constant disruptions force Princess Carolyn to really look at herself and ultimately decide that Bojack is a negative influence on her life.
Though the episode offers some early character development for Princess Carolyn, it, unfortunately, feels a lot like a filler episode. Very little is done to advance the show’s plot and the episode itself doesn’t offer too many laughs either. The reason this is the worst episode of Bojack is that it is simply too boring.
9 “Still Broken” S2E3 (Worst)
“Still Broken” follows Bojack as he reunites with his castmates from Horsin’ Around at Herb Kazzaz’s funeral. As the gang gets back together, they embark on a treasure hunt they believe Herb had orchestrated as a means for them all to spend time together once more. The side plot follows Princess Carolyn as she tries to promote herself to acquire more talent. Unfortunately for her, though, she has to tell a lie about her relationship with Herb that keeps getting bigger and bigger.
While it’s nice to see the whole cast of Horsin’ Around together again, audiences haven’t really seen much of the other characters aside from Sarah Lynn. This reunion is supposed to mean something to Bojack, but it’s a bit unclear on what it means for the kids of Horsin' Around. Once again, there aren’t a whole lot of laughs to be found in the episode, though there are more than in “Say Anything.”
8 “Bojack Horseman Christmas Special: Sabrina’s Christmas Wish” (Worst)
Following season 1 of Bojack Horseman, the creators released a Christmas special to Netflix that takes place independently of the regular story. In the special, Bojack and Todd watch the Christmas special of Horsin’ Around. The two offer regular commentary and call out specific flaws in the episode that also point out common tropes from 90’s TV shows. After the episode concludes, Bojack cautiously suggests that the two watch the other Horsin’ Around Christmas specials.
Bojack’s Christmas special falls into one of the many issues with satire by using the same tropes that you’re trying to make fun of. Unfortunately, nothing too different is done to make up for those tropes. Once again, the episode falls flat on some humor, as only a few laughs are brought about. Lastly, the special does nothing to develop the characters further. By the end of season 1, we know exactly how Bojack is as a character. Nothing about his behavior has changed in the Christmas special. The same can be said for Todd. Furthermore, once season 2 begins, it completely ignores the Christmas special. Though the special itself is fun, it feels much more like an average TV show trope rather than an episode of Bojack Horseman.
7 “Thoughts and Prayers” S4E5 (Worst)
Too much happens in this episode, yet not enough at the same time. Bojack admits to Hollyhock that he doesn’t know who her mother could be and the two decide to visit Beatrice in the hospital. On the other hand, Diane becomes pro-gun after several shootings in the area.
While the seriousness of Bojack’s story is relieved by the humor in Diane’s, the two arcs could easily be their own separate episodes. Though “Thoughts and Prayers” isn’t the worst episode, it struggles to progress the serious plot of season 4 while still trying to keep the humor present. Had this episode simply been two separate ones, or even woven into other episodes, some substantial improvements could have been made.
6 “The Stopped Show” S5E12 (Worst)
The show’s most recent season finale actually proved to be rather disappointing. The episode follows each main character as their arcs come to some half-resolutions. Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter’s relationship is in an awkward position and Bojack questions the benefits to sobriety. Todd is really the only arc to see a resolution by the end.
While it is nice to see Bojack progress as a character and finally agree to get help, there is very little shock value to the end in comparison to the other seasons. The “cliffhanger” ending that a show might typically try to go for on a season finale is very underwhelming. Furthermore, it seems as if not enough arcs are resolved for a fitting conclusion to a series. Though it is obvious that there will be another season to continue to resolve those arcs, fans and viewers can’t help but crave a little more from the season 5 finale.
5 “Downer Ending” S1E11 (Best)
“Downer Ending” was the first of the show’s traditional, obscenely dark penultimate episodes. Like with all other seasons, Bojack ends up on a drug-induced spiritual journey that sort of hits the reset button on his character.
Part of what makes this episode stand out above the others is the pure shock value in it. So much extra backstory is given in this first major trip that does a lot to develop Bojack. Though it is a more serious episode with minimal humor, “Downer Ending” is a great example of what satire can do as an art form. The episode also drags the show into a more realistic light that is different from Bojack’s prior struggles.
4 “Brrap Brrap Pew Pew” S3E6 (Best)
The strongest episodes of Bojack Horseman all seem to come from Season 3 and “Brrap Brrap Pew Pew” is no exception. The episode mostly follows Diane as she struggles with her abortion decision. Furthermore, Diane’s situation leads her to a blunder with pop star Sextina Aquafina, in which the public becomes convinced that Sextina is also getting an abortion.
The episode is easily one of the shows more hysterical, as the situations and subject matter are all blown wildly out of proportion. However, in the end, the writers and cast successfully manage to keep a general sense of positivity towards both sides of a very delicate subject. The abundance of humor combined with positive attitudes towards women and the delicate handling of a political theme easily makes “Brrap Brrap Pew Pew” one of Bojack Horseman’s better episodes.
3 “What Time Is It Right Now?” S4E12 (Best)
The show’s season 4 finale is easily one of its strongest. A lot of arcs get wrapped up and the cliffhanger is just enough for fans to want more. The Hollyhock situation gets resolved and Bojack comes to realize what his mother meant to him. There is also the hilarious bonus of Todd trying to gather up his rabid clown dentists.
The humor in the episode is strong along with the heart. Bojack’s relationship with Hollyhock offers him support as well as a reason to be a good person. Seeing Bojack in the role of an older brother was a nice change of pace that really added to his character. Had the showrunners wanted to, a few tweaks could have easily been made to have the series finale at this moment.
2 “Fish Out Of Water” S3E4 (Best)
The runner up for Bojack Horseman’s best episode is the famous silent episode. Once again coming from season 3, this episode follows Bojack as he goes underwater to promote his new movie. However, he cannot communicate verbally with anyone due to the helmet that allows him to breathe. While underwater, Bojack can’t apologize to his director, but he also ends up finding a lost baby seahorse that he persistently tries to return to his father.
This allows for the show to do a lot more situational humor rather than simply quips or banter. There is also a lesson for Bojack to learn about himself and a truly hysterical ending. The antics, scenery, and music all come together beautifully to create one of the most satisfying episodes of Bojack Horseman to date.
1 “That Went Well” S3E12 (Best)
In our number-one spot is the finale to season 3. Following the death of Sarah Lynn, Bojack is at rock bottom. Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter’s relationship is in jeopardy, and Todd gets a check for millions of dollars. Following such a dark end from the episode before it, “That Went Well” offers a much better balance of the show’s constant change in tone.
What makes this episode so good is in how it juggles various themes and tones that are common throughout the show, all in one episode. It is truly hysterical to watch Mr. Peanutbutter arrive on the horizon with a bunch of spaghetti strainers to save the day. It is also just as heartbreaking to watch Bojack get so close to suicide at the end. Many episodes deal with similar moments of comedy and darkness, but not usually so much in a single episode. “That Went Well” is a great example of finding the right balance for everything the show has tried to do and come to represent.