Streamline recommends “BoJack Horseman” as the thing to watch on Netflix this week. The fifth season of the beloved animated series returns on Sept. 14.
But wait! Netflix actually debuts two critically adored comedies this week. The true-crime parody “American Vandal” also returns on the same day as “BoJack.” So, breaking with Streamline tradition, I’ll highlight two shows up top here.
“BoJack Horseman” quickly became one of my favorite shows of all time when it first premiered in 2014. Although the very first episodes had some shaky storytelling while the writers figured out what this show would be, by the end of Season 1 it became clear this show was special.
As the theme song reminds the viewer again and again, the show centers on an aging actor that once starred in a “very famous TV show.” This actor, BoJack Horseman, is an alcoholic and a sex addict. He’s also a horse. Almost all the characters are animals acting like humans, although, inexplicably, some characters are humans and some animals just act like animals. It’s kind of like early Disney-cartoon logic with Goofy existing as a dog-person, but Mickey owning a pet dog that didn’t speak.
The show has found creative ways to use the limitless possibilities of animation to drive the story. It constantly unpacks new aspects of BoJack’s troubles, often doing so by taking the character to absurd locales only possible in a cartoon.
Besides using the animation to dive into gloom, the writers slip in tons of background jokes and references that keep you searching for Easter eggs. My favorite from the Season 5 premiere is a reference to the musician Mac DeMarco. A character has a poster for “Quack DeMarco,” in which the singer is a duck.
From what I’ve seen of the new season, these episodes are just as funny and illuminating as those that came before. I highly recommend them.
“American Vandal” has also earned adoration from critics. The first season focused on two high school students making a documentary while trying to solve a mystery. That mystery: Who drew penises on teachers’ cars in the high school parking lot?
The show blends juvenile and high-brow humor together for a uniquely fun viewing experience. It also represents high school/teen life better than most shows out there.
With the mystery of the first season solved, the two documentarians pivot to a new case. In Season 2, someone called the Turd Burglar keeps making high school students poop themselves. Again, juvenile. But the writers are incredibly clever and that somehow elevates the show from something that could have been annoying into a must-watch.
Check out the trailers below.