Bojack Horseman: 5.02 The Dog Days Are Over

The Dog Days Are Over picks up directly from Diane and Mr Peanutbutter signing off on their divorce, and the lead up to this. In a bid to to find herself post marriage, Diane spontaneously travels to Vietnam to try and get in touch with her roots. The episode is structured as a listicle (in line with Diane’s work at the Buzzfeed-esque Girlcroosh) as Diane outlines the 10 Reasons To Go To Vietnam.

The Dog Days Are Over does throw the casting of Alison Brie (a white woman) as the Vietnamese-American Diane Nguyen. Showrunner Bob-Waksberg has recently addressed this again, but the nature of the episode brings the casting into the spotlight.  Casting a white woman to voice an Asian woman who is going through a crisis in her identity doesn’t sit too well - particularly as the episode literally explores the difficulty growing up mixed race and having few connections to your own culture and heritage. It’s likely that Bob-Waksberg wrote this episode as a nod to the casting decision - Diane is even more isolated from her history as she is played by a white woman - but I’m not entirely convinced that this translates that well in the episode.

Due to the nature of the listicle, the episode delves into Diane’s deep-seated emotional issues surrounding her identity and her divorce but through a whimsical lens. It pokes fun at American tourists, about the nature of travelling and the inherently flawed idea of finding oneself. Presented out of chronological order, The Dog Days Are Over flits between Diane’s disappointing experiences in Hanoi, the reality of living alone in a terrible apartment after the events of What Time Is It Anyway in Season 4, and Bojack being a less than adequate friend throughout the entire thing.

As always, there are some excellent moments - a particular highlight was between Diane and an American film crew member filming in Hanoi. He assumes Diane doesn’t speak English, and she doesn’t correct him - both of them pretending to be someone else in each others presence. A mishap with a studio light and Diane’s subsequent vocal reaction bring a close to this pretence, with a fantastic closing line from Diane when he becomes frustrated at her lie - “you got to have your Miss Saigon cosplay, so let’s call it a draw”.

Diane’s heartbreak over Mr Peanutbutter also leads to an odd but expected moment between herself and Bojack. In a drunken stupor, the two realise that they are finally both single at the same time and could, technically, hook up ("we could... not that I want to... I'm just saying we could... gross"). This scenario has been a long time coming, but typically does not play out in the way we would expect. Instead of diving in, the two end up blind drunk and pass out, which feels oddly reminiscent of Season 3, when Diane lived with Bojack whilst pretending to be in Cordovia (speaking of which - anyone else noticed Todd's time clock in his new office?).

The Dog Days Are Over does deliver an crushing emotional blow towards the end - the type of blow that makes you wonder why you watch this show anyway - Diane discovers Mr Peanutbutter is already seeing someone else. Diane’s voice-over allows us to understand that, although she wanted the divorce, seeing Mr Peanutbutter with someone else is heartbreaking all over again. Here we cycle back to the beginning of the episode, and Diane’s initial gut wrenching sobbing is finally explained - and the reason why she left to go to Vietnam in the first place.

Bonus background detail that you may have missed: the departure board as Diane is buying her ticket to Vietnam reads "Istanbul, Turkey - Stuffed".

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