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What would Wen do about love, part 4: everybody loves you, but nobody likes you

Apr. 5, 2018
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"You know, it's funny; when you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags." Wanda said softly to BoJack.

BoJack Horseman is the titular character in the popular and critically acclaimed Netflix animated series BoJack Horseman. For what seems to be a lighthearted animated show with talking animals on its surface, the series touches upon subjects of abandonment, abuse, depression, and existential crisis. I identify BoJack Horseman as one of the must-watch shows of the past decade. The character development arcs are meaningful, and the relationships between characters are realistic and discuss many issues that seemed to be glossed over in modern media.

I’m not a 200-pound horse in his 50s that peaked in the 1990s, but that didn’t dim the connection I had with BoJack.

In his life, BoJack had many romances that will remind you of a car crash; even when his romances end in trainwrecks time and time again, he holds onto the broken pieces and continues to romanticize them.

“My life is a mess right now and I compulsively take care of other people when I don't know how to take care of myself.” This is a perfect representation of BoJack and Princess Carolyn’s relationship.

In the beginning of BoJack Horseman, we were introduced to the protagonist’s problematic relationship with Princess Carolyn. He took her for granted, cheated on her all the time, and ultimately broke her heart. Whenever he’d build up the courage to break things off with her, they’d find themselves falling back into each other’s arms for comfort. This had been happening on and off for decades. BoJack was too broken to let go of a constant in his life, and Princess Carolyn was so stubborn and relentless in her attempts to “fix” him that she was never able to easily leave him. They did love each other, but that isn’t always enough of a reason for two people to stay together. Rather, they’d become each other’s worst bad habit. Even though the two eventually finally broke things off for good, the writers painted a gritty and real toxic relationship that isn’t often shown on television. 

“I know you’re afraid. We are all afraid.” Wanda knew what she wanted, and in the end, it just wasn’t BoJack.

Wanda Pierce was BoJack’s escape. When we were introduced to her, she had just woken from a coma; as a result, she didn’t know how messed up BoJack was. She was his clean slate. Voiced by Friends’ Lisa Kudrow, Wanda’s was the seasonal arc we never knew we needed. She loved and cared for BoJack, but like many people in his life, she eventually was driven away by his self-destructive tendencies. He thought she would be the one to save him, but like her predecessors, she wasn’t able to handle all of his past trauma.

BoJack was worried that Wanda wouldn’t love him for who he is. She did, for a while, but once you’ve seen someone hurting themselves that much, it becomes clear that there’s nothing you can do.

You can’t change people who don’t want to change.

BoJack is incapable of love. His traumatic childhood plays a large role in it—his distanced mother and abusive father never loved him. Now, as an adult, BoJack cannot love someone else because he has yet to love himself.

How did I become so invested in the love life of an animated horse? I don’t know. I may not be an alcoholic horse going through an existential crisis, but I saw the vulnerable parts of him that we all can relate to—we crave being loved so much so that we often become blind-sided.