Photo: ‘BoJack Horseman’/Netflix
‘BoJack Horseman’ is a show that is unlike any other. Who could have ever thought a colorful show about a talking horse could make people feel so sad? As one of Netflix’s first original shows premiering in 2014, ‘BoJack’ had gone on to run for 6 seasons and 77 episodes until its end in 2020. Despite a lukewarm reception in the first season, the show pushed on and the second season garnered critical acclaim, with subsequent seasons earning high praise from both critics and fans. Many have called it one of the best television shows of the decade, with Indiewire even going as far as calling it the greatest animated series of all time. Personally, I love this show and its balance between humor and being introspective, and it deserves all the praise it gets.
So, with all of that in mind, I decided to rank the top 10 best ‘BoJack’ episodes. As someone who’s watched this show multiple times and on a rewatch at this moment, I’ll do my best to highlight the best and truly outstanding episodes of one of my favorite shows ever. There’ll be some that are funny, some that are sweet, and almost all of them will be outright depressing in one way or another. So strap on in, folks!
It’s time to take a ride on the emotional rollercoaster that is ‘BoJack Horseman’ – Best Episodes:
#10. “BoJack Hates the Troops” (S1 E2)
In the second episode of the series, BoJack comes under fire for getting into an altercation with a Navy SEAL over calling “dibs” on a box of muffins at the grocery store. I know some might argue that there are funnier and more thought-provoking episodes that deserve a spot on this list, but honestly, seeing BoJack argue with Neal McBeal the Navy SEAL (who is an animal seal as well) always cracks me up. BoJack digs himself deeper and deeper into a hole as he stubbornly refuses to apologize. It’s honestly hilarious and makes for some good comedy. Plus, we get a nice moment at the end where BoJack finally begins to open up to Diane about his childhood. It’s the first of many times throughout the series where we see them sitting on the roof of Mr. Peanutbutter’s house together, something that stays throughout the show’s run.
#9. “Hank After Dark” (S2 E7)
Every once in a while, ‘BoJack’ will have a topical episode, where the show’s writers will find comedy in how the media portrays a certain hot-button issue. For season 2, that is “Hank After Dark”, an episode that’s a commentary on Hollywood and its handling of the powerful men in it. As BoJack and Diane go on a media tour across the country to promote the paperback version of BoJack’s biography, Diane gets into some hot water as she brings up sexual misconduct allegations about the beloved late-night television host Hank Hippopopalous.
The episode provides a real and dark take on how the media is so willing to protect famous rich men from criticism, and it hurts to see Diane trying to fight for what’s right while all the men in her life are telling her she can’t win. Alison Brie’s voice sounds powerless, showing how defeated Diane feels as her chances of exposing Hank grow slimmer and the world seems to be working against her. Besides the realistic take on allegations against celebrities in the industry, there are also funny moments with Todd switching places with the prince of the fictional country Cordovia and BoJack trying to regain everyone’s attention after Diane’s comments.
#8. “The Face of Depression” (S6 E7)
This type of episode is rare in ‘BoJack’, as it is one where it seems like everyone is finally happy. Princess Carolyn is finding a balance between her work and home life, Diane begins taking her antidepressants, and Mr. Peanutbutter finally gets the crossover episode he’s been dreaming of! Here, BoJack decides to travel across the country. In reality, he only visits Diane in Chicago and Hollyhock in Connecticut. But this story feels good in the fact that we see BoJack giving decent advice and helping his friends out for the sole reason of him trying to be a better person. After five whole seasons of seeing BoJack act selfishly and tear down his friends, it’s nice to see him genuinely try to be good to them. If “The Face of Depression” was the series finale, it would be a happy one.
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#7. “Ruthie” (S4 E9)
On the contrary, “Ruthie” is an episode that will shatter the heart of any ‘BoJack Horseman’ fan. The story is told through Princess Carolyn’s future descendant Ruthie, who’s giving a presentation on her ancestor going through one of the worst days of her life. We see our favorite pink cat go through a multitude of bad things, all happening one after the other. From losing a client to a miscarriage to more awful revelations, Amy Sedaris does a stellar job of showing Princess Carolyn break as one thing after another keeps piling on to what must feel like her rock bottom. And if all that wasn’t enough, the final twist at the end is the painful cherry-on-top. It will leave viewers absolutely crushed. Episodes like this prove that show creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg can make this show as depressing as it is funny, and the show is all the better for it.
#6. “Escape From L.A.” (S2 E11)
This is single-handedly the most important episode in the entirety of ‘BoJack Horseman’. It’s an episode that I can’t watch often, as it usually leaves me covering my eyes, but I love it nonetheless. BoJack travels to New Mexico to visit an old friend, Charlotte, and ends up staying with her for two months. As he grows closer to Charlotte and her family, he pushes away his life in L.A. But, knowing BoJack, his vacation can only last for so long before things start to go wrong for him. “Escape from L.A.” is a great episode that defines our titular horse: he’s someone that will always ruin any chance he gets at happiness due to his personal demons.
It’s nice watching him fit in and live a normal, happy life, but watching it crumble before him makes for some horrifying television in the best way. BoJack spending time with Penny is sweet, but it always feels wrong. And the ending is the most awful trainwreck of events I’ve seen in a while. “Escape From L.A.” is a quintessential ‘Bojack’ episode that affects the rest of the show going forward, and furthers the path he takes throughout the series.
#5. “It’s You” (S3 E10)
This one is a personal favorite because it’s an episode that perfectly summarizes who BoJack is as a person. By now, he’s at the end of his Oscar campaign for his latest film, ‘Secretariat’. As the nominations come out, he’s pleased to learn that he’s been nominated for Best Actor. So what does BoJack do? What he does best: he throws a gigantic party to celebrate. It’s a great story that shows the depths of our favorite horseman’s psyche, as his ego is bolstered and ripped apart all in one episode. In the aftermath of this wild night, some heavy truths are revealed that lead to Todd confronting BoJack about his shitty behavior and how he needs to be better. “You are all the things that are wrong with you,” he says, tiredly. The whole monologue is chilling, and it’s a cherry on the top of an already great episode.
#4. “The Old Sugarman Place” (S4 E2)
“The Old Sugarman Place ” is a story that feels almost standalone. It takes place away from all of the action in Hollywood (for non-BoJack fans, yes, that is spelled correctly) and focuses on the town of Harper’s Landing, Michigan, where the Horseman family’s summer home is. Focusing between two stories, one set in the past about Beatrice Horseman’s childhood and another in the present with BoJack trying to fix up the family home, ‘BoJack Horseman’ deals with feelings of emptiness between its main characters here.
Beatrice’s mother, Honey, is devastated by the death of a family member and can’t cope with it. BoJack tries fixing up his old summer home to find direction in himself and learns about letting go of the past from his grumpy neighbor. Both stories are terribly sad, and there’s no way not to get teary-eyed when seeing what happens with Beatrice and her mother. “The Old Sugarman Place ” may take away from the action at home, but it tells a heart-wrenching story that is worth a watch for any ‘BoJack’ fan.
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#3. “Free Churro” (S5 E6)
By all accounts, something like “Free Churro” should never work as a piece of storytelling. I mean, who wants to hear someone talk for half an hour straight? But somehow, the ‘BoJack’ team pulls it off, and it is absolutely mesmerizing to watch. Besides the flashback cold open, the entire episode takes place at a funeral, where BoJack stands in front of an audience and gives a eulogy for his mother, who just passed away. That’s all that happens. And it is done in the best way possible. If anyone ever doubted Will Arnett’s acting ability, look no further than here.
He consistently proves that this show is the best work of his career (sorry, ‘Arrested Development’ fans) and this episode is his crowning achievement. BoJack does it all, from riffing with the organ player to telling stories about his mother’s last days, to eventually ripping into his mother for all the pain and awfulness he dealt with because of her. it’s all great writing and makes for a stellar episode of television.
#2. “Fish Out of Water” (S3 E4)
Similar to “Free Churro”, “Fish Out of Water” is an episode that’s unlike any other episode before it, yet it works magically. In this episode, BoJack goes to an underwater film festival to promote ‘Secretariat’. Once he gets there, he finds out that his ex-director Kelsey Jannings is in attendance, and he can’t avoid an awkward confrontation with her. The catch: he is unable to talk or communicate with anyone due to the helmet he’s wearing.
Because of this, there is little-to-no dialogue throughout the episode. It all revolves around BoJack’s actions, and he no longer has his words to fall back on. From start to finish, this episode is beautiful. The undersea setting makes for great scenery as BoJack deals with different issues, like returning a baby seahorse to its father or trying to find his way back to the festival after getting lost. Plus, the ending is absolutely hilarious. It’s an art piece of an episode, and one of ‘BoJack’’s best.
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#1. “The View From Halfway Down” (S6 E15)
Any fan of ‘BoJack Horseman’ knows that the penultimate episode of every season is the most devastating; It’s usually filled with deep character moments and an intense scene that changes both BoJack and the show forever. Well, as the penultimate episode of the series, I can assuredly say that “The View From Halfway Down” is the best of the bunch, and the best episode of the entire show. In a dream, BoJack goes to a dinner party, where the guests are all of the characters who have died throughout the series. BoJack isn’t surprised, claiming he’s been through this dream multiple times before. But as the night goes on, he begins to realize that something is very, very wrong.
This episode is one of the few truly chilling episodes in BoJack Horseman’s run, due to the growing panic BoJack feels as he begins to realize that this isn’t a normal dream. When BoJack’s father Butterscotch (in the body of BoJack’s childhood hero, Secretariat) reads a poem about jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s chilling. Herb’s calm demeanor as he tells BoJack “There is no other side. This is it,” almost turns this episode into straight horror. Everything about “The View From Halfway Down”, from BoJack’s conversations with his dead friends and family members all the way to his phone call with Diane at the end of the episode, is existential and hits hard emotionally; And frankly, there is no other episode that fully defines the emotional impact and emotional depth this show has like this one.
“Let’s Find Out” (S2 E8)
“That’s Too Much, Man!” (S3 E11)
“Nice While it Lasted” (S6 E16)
By Ben Ross
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Ben Ross is a writer at Hollywood Insider. He loves watching films and finding the message behind the art. With a love for movies and television, his goal is to understand as much as he can about anything he watches, and engage with readers about different topics related to the industry. He aims to find work that sheds a light on issues not really talked about and showcase it, feeling that it is important to understand the truth. Together with his readers, he hopes to celebrate beautiful stories in film and explore topics that are worth discussing – a value that defines Hollywood Insider.