Warning: spoilers ahead for BoJack Horseman.
The final episodes of BoJack Horseman dropped on Netflix this week, revealing the fates of the anthropomorphic industry insiders of Hollywoo. (Or is it Hollywoob, now that the sign received a long overdue extra letter?)
After six seasons, former sitcom star and current tabloid cautionary tale BoJack (voiced by Will Arnett) has finally owned up to his problematic past, and reluctantly accepted real-life consequences for them.
His reckoning begins in the second half of season 6, when two reporters dive into BoJack’s relationship with the late Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal), his Horsin’ Around co-star turned pop star. Seasons earlier, Sarah Lynn died of an overdose in the Griffith Observatory’s Samuel Oschin Planetarium while out on a drug-fueled bender with BoJack, who provided Sarah Lynn with the drugs she died from taking. BoJack didn’t call for an ambulance immediately, assuming there was nothing to be done to save her life.
The Sarah Lynn situation comes to light just as BoJack believes he’s finally becoming a better person. He has stopped drinking, cultivated a relationship with half-sister Hollyhock (Aparna Nancherla), and is even teaching an acting course at Wesleyan University. BoJack’s circle of friends, including former biographer Diane (Alison Brie) and manager Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), are conflicted about how BoJack should handle this PR crisis. They eventually decide BoJack should tell his side of the story as honestly as possible.
BoJack sits down with chinchilla Diane Sawyer stand-in Biscuits Braxby (Daniele Gaither) in a television interview about “the last days of Sarah Lynn.” He tells his side of the story, leaving out some of the more salacious details. The interview garners BoJack sympathy, and he’s ultimately praised for his candor and sobriety.
BoJack becomes a hero of Hollywoo in the subsequent weeks after the interview — until those same reporters dig a little deeper. They find Penny (Ilana Glazer), who is the daughter of BoJack’s friend Charlotte (Olivia Wilde), whom BoJack had an inappropriate relationship with when she was in high school. Penny hasn’t quite healed from the trauma of her time with BoJack. Soon the reporters have a stack of evidence against him, which they present to Biscuits to encourage her to do a follow-up interview.
BoJack heads confidently into the interview but, this time, Biscuit plays hardball. She accuses BoJack of taking advantage of Sarah Lynn’s fragility and suggests he is to blame for her substance issues, tying it back to Sarah Lynn's first drink: a bottle of vodka he left on the Horsin’ Around set. Biscuit also claims BoJack is responsible for taking advantage of all the women in his life, pointing out his tendency to start relationships with people with whom he had significant power over, like his one-time agent’s assistant Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris). BoJack denies the accusations and insists that it isn’t an accurate portrayal of his character, but it’s too late: Hollywoo, and the rest of the world, turns against BoJack.
Following his “cancelation,” BoJack spirals. While on drugs, he trashes his former house (now occupied by a budding child actor and his family) and takes a swim in his pool — the same one from BoJack Horseman’s opening credits.
The penultimate episode, “The View From Halfway Down,” takes place in a dream sequence, entirely in BoJack’s mind. Here, BoJack attends a dinner party with his late mother (Wendie Malick), his icon Secretariat (John Krasinski), Sarah Lynn, and other deceased characters he interacted with on the show. Though BoJack has had this dream before, he never made it to the “performance” part of the night — and when he does, he’s convinced that he’s dead.
BoJack isn’t dead, but when he wakes up, he is forced to face serious consequences. Sarah Lynn’s parents sue him for his role in their daughter’s death, and he is put in prison for breaking into and trashing his former house.
Yet BoJack seems to be thriving in prison — and may finally be on his way to becoming that “better person” he wants to be. He runs a prison theater group, which is in rehearsals for Hedda Gabler when he takes a weekend furlough to attend Princess Carolyn’s wedding.
It turns out that while BoJack was in prison, Princess Carolyn and her super-efficient and direct assistant Judah (Diedrich Bader) made their relationship romantic. All of Hollywoo (including both Jason Lee and Jennifer Jason Leigh, Princess Carolyn’s “two favorite Jason Lees”) are in attendance. That includes Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), who accompanies BoJack to the wedding, BoJack’s best friend and former coach crasher Todd (Aaron Paul), and Diane, whom BoJack seemingly hasn’t spoken to since prison.
While BoJack is on good terms with Todd, who is up to his old shenanigans at the wedding, his relationship with Diane has irrevocably changed — and both BoJack and Diane know it. They meet on the roof of the wedding and catch up about their lives. Diane, now the author of a series of YA novels about a “mall detective,” moved to Texas to be with her husband.
“I think there are people who help you become the person you end up being, and you can be grateful for them even if they were never meant to be in your life forever,” Diane tells BoJack on the roof. “I’m glad I knew you, too.”
When BoJack jokes, “Wouldn’t it be funny if this night was the last night we ever talked to each other?” Diane says nothing for a moment, suggesting that was her intention with this conversation.
“I need to tell you thank you, and it’s going to be okay, and I’m sorry,” Diane says. “And, thank you.”
The two chat for a few more minutes, before sitting in silence and watching the stars.
For a show as full of chaos as BoJack Horseman, the series finale offers a far quieter resolution than one may have expected. After so much turmoil — much of it of his own making — BoJack has found happiness, or at least peace. He spent years striving for fame, respect, and clout, thinking they would patch up whatever hole in himself that made him miserable. It was when BoJack was able to escape Hollywoo and throw himself into something outside himself, did he finally achieve some sense of calm. He knows his prison production of Hedda Gabler may never see London’s West End, yet he made himself a part of something “bigger.” He’s grown, it seems, over the past six seasons: At one point in his life, BoJack would have scoffed at teaching others how to act, and consider the job too small to matter.
BoJack Horseman didn’t end in the way that some may have expected or wanted. BoJack and Diane always seemed somewhat fated to be together, in part because both had such intense dissatisfaction with their lives that often made them miserable.
BoJack Horseman was never really about BoJack’s comeback, just as it wasn’t about Diane becoming a successful memoirist. It was about these two people learning to be, even if life didn’t give them everything they wanted. For BoJack and Diane, letting go of each other is bittersweet: It means they’re finally ready to move on from whatever version of their life they wanted to have, and accept the one they are living now.