Type keyword(s) to search

Quick Hits

BoJack Horseman's Best Episode This Season is a Knock-Down, Drag-out Laugh Riot

The animated Netflix series that's become known for tackling serious issues returns to its comedy roots in its latest standout episode.
  • Mr. Peanutbutter in Bojack Horseman (Netflix)
    Mr. Peanutbutter in Bojack Horseman (Netflix)

    Spoiler alert: This post contains mild spoilers from Season 6 of BoJack Horseman.

    BoJack Horseman's best Season 2 episode was "Hank After Dark," a brutal takedown of a culture that protects powerful rapists. The best Season 3 episode was "Fish Out of Water," a nearly silent installment set under the sea, in which our titular protagonist tries to make amends with a female director he got fired without cause. The best Season 4 episode was "Time's Arrow," a haunting trip down memory lane with BoJack's dementia-addled mother as she recalls her dark past and BoJack's abusive childhood.

    At this point, I will remind you that BoJack Horseman is an animated comedy, and one of Netflix's longest-lasting half-hour series. It's a show filled with visual puns and gags, killer running jokes, and a character named Princess Carolyn who unleashes hilarious rhyme tornadoes at the drop of a hat. As a longtime fan of the series, I can't tell you how many times it's made me cackle until I cried.

    But largely thanks to its most exemplary episodes — which include those above, plus the impromptu therapy session "Stop the Presses" from Season 3, and the motherhood parable "Ruthie" from Season 4 — BoJack has developed a reputation for being anything but funny. Its most famous episodes have explored depression, addiction and other forms of mental illness. They stretch imagination (and animation) to their limits to explore the darker recesses of the human psyche, all with characters who are a mix of humans and humanlike animals.

    Sounds fun, right? Much as I try, I can't always sell folks who aren't already on the BoJack train, but I can tell you that in the first half of its final season (which drops today on Netflix), BoJack Horseman finally produces a best-of-the-season episode that's almost exclusively comedy.

    The episode in question, titled "Surprise!," has a simple enough premise: BoJack's former rival-turned-frenemy Mr. Peanutbutter and his fiancée Pickles, are set to be wed. Sooner than they think, actually. In a fit of boredom, fheir friend Todd has planned a surprise wedding for them that night, complete with friends, family, and more. However, Mr. Peanutbutter is still riddled with guilt after cheating on Pickles with his ex-wife, Diane, and can't bring himself to go through with it. He confesses to cheating on Pickles that night.

    The only thing is: He does it just as everyone is leaping out to surprise him and Pickles with the wedding. In one fluid motion, everyone returns to their hiding spots, tearing down decorations as they do so. The unhappy couple then proceeds to argue all over the house as their friends and family struggle to remain hidden. This sequence is chock full of visual gags, including Mr. Peanutbutter's parents pretending to be photos of themselves on the living room end table — and attempting to stay straight-faced as Peanutbutter reveals his dad wants out of his marriage.

    In another BoJack episode, it's the kind of moment that might be played for drama. But "Surprise!" plays all these moments for laughs. And it only gets more absurd once most of the party finally escapes, leaving only main characters Todd, Princess Carolyn, Diane, and BoJack himself in the house. Princess Carolyn's baby's constant attempts to escape only make the farce more absurd, as the cast does everything to stay hidden and get Mr. Peanutbutter and Pickles out of the house.

    I've already watched the episode three times, and I can't imagine getting tired of it. It reminds me of the Modern Family episode "Las Vegas," which I always cite when asked if that show is still funny. (Granted, that episode was six seasons ago, so I guess I'm making their point.) As it happens, that episode employed a similar concept, as characters constantly attempted to avoid each other at their Vegas hotel (with an amazing guest performance by Stephen Merchant as the valet keeping all the balls in the air). That "Surprise!" is animated only gives the creative team a larger sandbox to play win, leading to a plethora of jokes both visual and verbal.

    It's a great episode, and I actually think it works even if you don't know the history of these characters. It's a 25-minute blast of comic energy that manages to also advance the serialized arc of the season forward. It's thrilling to watch BoJack flex its comedic muscle, and show that even in its final season, it excels in multiple genres all at once.

    People are talking about BoJack Horseman in our forums. Join the conversation.

    Kevin O'Keeffe is a writer, host, and RuPaul's Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles.

    TOPICS: BoJack Horseman, Netflix