A Beginner’s Guide to BoJack Horseman

This weekend heralds the return of everyone’s favourite anthropomorphic horse, with Netflix streaming the eagerly awaited fourth season of BoJack Horseman. Since its premiere in 2014, the animated comedy has received much praise from critics – despite an initially frosty reception – with some going as far as to call it the best television series currently airing.

For those who are unfamiliar with BoJack, or have simply forgotten what has happened thus far, The Iris has created this handy summary of the show’s first three seasons as a way of keeping you up to speed before the all-new season debuts.

First, we’ll start with the basics. The series centres around a washed-up comic named BoJack Horseman (voice of Will Arnett), the former star of a family sitcom called Horsin’ Around. In the present day, he lives in his Hollywood Hills apartment with Todd (Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad), a stoner who has been crashing on BoJack’s couch for years.

As the series begins, BoJack is in the process of writing his memoir while simultaneously trying to sustain a relationship with his agent, a pink-furred cat named Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris). Unfortunately, our hero isn’t doing well in either regard – he has only gotten as far as naming the first chapter of his biography, while Princess Carolyn has dumped BoJack yet again.

To speed up the writing of his novel, BoJack’s publisher puts him in touch with Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie), a ghost-writer who authored a biography on BoJack’s idol, Secretariat. Upon meeting Diane, BoJack is aghast to discover that she is in a relationship with Mr. Peanutbutter the Labrador (Paul F. Tompkins) whose own sitcom, Mr. Peanutbutter’s House, is eerily similar to Horsin’ Around.

Spoilers for Seasons 1 to 3 Follow

As the first season progresses, BoJack develops a crush on Diane, leading to added friction between him and Peanutbutter, and again when the latter marries Diane. Afterward, BoJack’s memoir morphs into a biography called “One Trick Pony” which brings him instant acclaim, even earning him a Golden Globe – despite not being a film or television series.

Jump to Season Two, and BoJack has scored the lead role in a biopic about Secretariat, with Diane on-board as a consultant. The role is a difficult one for BoJack – rather than deliver a nuanced performance, he cannot help but read his lines in a cheesy, over-the-top manner, as he did during his Horsin’ Around days.

Also in the second season, Diane flies to the poverty-stricken country of Cordovia to write about the ongoing war; BoJack develops a short-lived romance with Wanda (Lisa Kudrow), an owl who is also a television executive; Princess Carolyn starts up her own talent agency; and Mr. Peanutbutter become the host of his own game show.

By the third season, Secretariat has premiered in theatres to glowing reviews and the delight of audiences. Executives believe BoJack’s performance may win him an Oscar, and so he spends much of his time wooing the Academy. Meanwhile, Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter have successfully started their own ride-sharing business for women, and Princess Carolyn has made Diane her agency’s social media manager.

Towards the season’s end, BoJack fails to secure an Oscar nomination, leading to an epic drug-fuelled bender with his former Horsin’ Around co-star Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal). The cocktail of narcotics proves too much for Sarah Lynn, dying of an overdose and leaving BoJack feeling responsible for her death. By the final episode, he has fled Los Angeles and is driving aimlessly across the desert, hoping to find meaning in his life.

All of this brings us to Season Four, which will see Princess Carolyn in a relationship with a mouse, Ralph Stilton (Raul Esparza); Diane blogging for a feminist website; Todd up to his usual shenanigans; Mr. Peanutbutter running for Governor of California; and a young horse who claims to be BoJack’s daughter.

After the emotional highs and lows of the past three years, it will be interesting to see if BoJack Horseman’s fourth season can improve upon the previous episodes, and what the show will do with its new plotlines. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait much longer to find out.

Season Four of BoJack Horseman premieres Friday, September 8th on Netflix.