Bojack Horseman: 5:03 Planned Obsolescence
So far in season five, we’ve just about caught up with what’s been going on with our favourite furry and non-furry friends. Bojack is working on a new series (and a new Bojack), Princess Carolyn is trying to adopt a child, while Diane and Mr Peanutbutter are embarking on different directions post-divorce. Which leaves us with Todd.
In a sense, Planned Obsolescence is Todd’s first episode of season five. The main story-line follows Todd and Yolanda (Todd’s asexual axolotl girlfriend, voiced by Natalie Morales) as Todd meets her parents for the first time. The catch? Yolanda’s parents don’t know she’s asexual. The second catch? Her parents are super erotic - her father is the best selling author of novels such as Depth and Girth, her mother is an adult film star and her sister is a sex advice columnist.
Yolanda begs Todd to pretend that they are a sexually active couple, to avoid questioning from her parents. Inevitably this doesn’t end well, and Yolanda constructs a plan which Todd is just about following ("I think I can handle exactly this amount of complication, as long as things don’t become one bit more complicated").
I’ve only got one word written in my notes for what happens next: lube. Lots of lube. In what is a weird twist, even for Bojack Horseman, there is a mishap with a barrel of lubricant and the entire family (including Todd) end up covered in it as the barrel spills all over the house. Again, it's possibly the strangest scene in the show, and that’s saying something (in this season we’ve already seen IT department cockroaches being exterminated at Girl Croosh, or negotiated, which, according to the shows internal logic may be a massacre?)
The entire charade is a slice of hilarious slapstick comedy, but one which ends on an affecting note - very much in line with the way the show has consistently treated Todd’s asexuality. Though it’s silly, it never undermines the way asexuality is presented. It’s never been an issue for Bojack Horseman; rather it’s a part of Todd’s identity that he is constantly learning about and has become a part of him as much as his yellow beanie.
Throughout this escapade, there is some incredibly detailed background work that warrants a second watch - from the sexually posed statues, to the Georgia O’Keefe painting, to Yolanda’s teenage bedroom wall hangings. The detail here is extraordinary, and something that the team clearly got to have a lot of fun with.
In other news, Mr Peanutbutter and Pickles decide to slow things down on the dating front, and instead take a road trip to see the the International Space Station being detonated. The Space Station being destroyed is a really interesting metaphor in itself - anything which has outlived its usefulness is done away with, in spectacular fashion. Everything gets old and redundant at some point - marriages, careers and people in our lives (a point Diane makes, albeit as a joke, on her podcast). On the other hand, the ISS is destroyed to make way for a new and improved ISS, so perhaps this is also indicative of Pickles and Mr Peanutbutter - this is a brand new beginning and has the potential to be better than what came before.
Bojack and Gina have the secondary storyline of the week as Bojack confuses the boundaries of their relationship even more. Presumably trying to win over Gina’s trust and affection, Bojack encourages her to follow her dream of performing musical theatre. He orchestrates Gina singing a number from ‘Corn’ in front of Flip - which she totally bombs. It’s a bit of a filler storyline which doesn’t go anywhere but does remind us that sometimes trying and failing is good enough. Also Stephanie Beatriz is brilliant in this episode, and it’s great that Gina is actually getting her own narrative outside of sleeping with Bojack.
The best line of the episode clearly goes to Princess Carolyn, who is definitely a TV critic in the making. When Bojack reads the stage directions in addition to his lines whilst shooting ‘Philbert’, Princess Carolyn justifies it - "it’s confusing, which means the show is daring and smart". Accurate, funny and I can think of at least three shows it applies to already.