Bojack Horseman: 5.01 The Lightbulb Scene
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After four seasons of watching the horse making terrible life decisions, Bojack Horseman has become universally accepted as a replacement for getting oneself a therapist. It’s interrogation of depression, anxiety, trauma and mental illness has been heralded by almost everyone who has seen it. Bojack Horseman has become one of the most relatable shows on TV right now which deals with the deepest pains of being human - despite it's lead character being a horse. Or part horse, part human.
Season four maybe have been the darkest season yet as it explored the idea of generational trauma - the anxieties, mental illnesses and troubles of Bojack’s grandmother and mother seem to surface in him as well. The season ended with the revelation that Hollyhock was not Bojack’s daughter, but his sister. This was welcome news - Bojack is certainly not cut out for fatherhood but the introduction of Hollyhock in his life led him to begin to be more open about his own insecurities and to start attempting to take responsibility for them.
In the first episode of season five, The Lightbulb Scene, we learn that the Philbert project (“produced” by Princess Carolyn) is now underway. Bojack is playing titular character Philbert, as set out at the end of season 4, and is struggling to separate his anxieties about his own awfulness from Philbert's. This leads to Bojack’s main storyline for the episode as him and showrunner Flip (Rami Malek) come to blows about the direction of the project.
It’s typical Bojack. He craves the adoration of his co-workers and co-workers alike, and can’t stand the thought of the public hating him, even if it’s the character that they truly dislike. Alongside Bojack’s ego issues, he also ends up sleeping with new co-star Gina (Stephanie Beatriz) - which of course, is entirely unsurprising as Bojack’s entire MO is to either screw up or screw everything he touches.
Gina and Bojack briefly talk about the objectification of women in ‘Philbert’, which Bojack utilises as a way to criticise Flip’s script. Naturally, this doesn’t work out quite how Bojack intends and ends in Bojack doing a full frontal nude scene to prove a point.
It would be easy to wave The Lightbulb Scene off as a dialogue about the #Metoo movement and be done with it, but the episode actually brings up the complex issues about exploitation within the film and TV industry across the board. Gina acknowledges the inherent sexism directed at her as an actress but she explains to Bojack that it really isn’t as simple as just standing up against it. She has to pay her rent and she wants to work. The reality is that many people within the industry cannot afford not to take a job - misogyny included or otherwise.
The storyline also explores the double standards of male vs female objectification. Bojack’s horror at performing in a nude scene stands in direct opposition to the assumption that Gina will do a similar scene without even needing to be asked. Flip, in a line which is almost certainly verbatim from certain Hollywood showrunners, says of Bojack’s scene “maybe all of the women will stop moaning now a man is doing it”.
In other news, Princess Carolyn is looking into adopting following her trauma of trying to get pregnant last series (here’s to hoping her and Ralph reunite this series) and Todd manages to get himself hired as head of Ad Sales at the WhatTimeIsItRightNow Network, despite interviewing for a cleaning job. I have a feeling Todd’s arc is going to be wonderful this season, and I’m very much here for it.
The Lightbulb Scene is closely focused on Bojack, but we see a glimpse of Mr Peanutbutter and Diane at the very end as they sign their divorce papers. It’s a short scene, but one with a great deal of emotion considering their back story together and if we know Bojack Horseman, this won’t be the last we see of these two together.
It’s a great first episode to start of season five - zeitgeisty, poignant and hilarious - in all the ways that we have grown to love Bojack Horseman for being.