This week my music listening has taken a bit of a back seat to watching the most recent series of Bojack Horseman on Netflix. So I thought I would use my weekly blog to highlight both the show and its closing track “Back in the 90’s” by act Grouplove.
When I first watched Bojack Horseman It wasn’t what I was expecting. The show does have plenty of comic moments but it isn’t its main drive, like many other American animations. Instead, character development is the shows focus, making it more of a drama with comedic elements than a show that has a story to underpin jokes.
This decision to focus on developing characters makes it rather unique in animation but what sets it above most television is the extent that these charters have been developed. Many of them have flaws and weaknesses but they never feel like character traits built from a writers spec sheet. They develop organically from their world experiences which make them feel more real than many live action dramas.
The shows main character is a perfect example of this. A successful star from a 90’s sitcom Bojack starts the series with riches, a slightly fading fame and a feeling of a hollow lonely existence. As we go through the currently 5 series Bojack tries to fill the emptiness in his life in different ways which fluctuate between the comedic and tragic. As a viewer you go on this journey with him and your opinions about him change from routing for him to succeed to loathing him for his decisions and at times pitying him for his weaknesses. There aren’t many shows I can think of that have that level of complexity in their main character and what makes Bojack Horseman even more special is its in most of the main supporting characters as well. They’re all so well developed that you could make a full season focused on one of them without fleshing them out further.
The level of detail and care that’s put into the characters pays off when the writers put them into situations within the world they inhabit. They can tell stories that are emotionally charged, satirical, funny and even bleak without ever feeling like its undeserved. It does this so naturally that you can easily forget just how hard it is to create.
This subtlety may not be as brash as other animations that get more praise but for me Bojack is more than great entertainment because it has something to say about society at large. At the poignant end of most of its episodes a version of “back in the 90’s” plays over the credits. The original version played is this stoner rock style by Grouplove and is my track of the week.