Stop “Horsin’ Around”

For adult cartoons, I’m already an adult inside. Is this ripping off another article? If so, my bad. Be it from the crude themes to the satirical input on society’s seemingly innumerable flaws, adult animation (no, not that kind of “animation”) entertains older people, unlike cartoons targeted at the young. As amusing as watching a sponge fight ancient ghosts with his starfish sidekick proves to be, kid cartoons lack a philosophical depth that can captivate an older audience. Few cartoons have been able to find a dedicated following, though some, like Adventure Time and My Little Pony, have received cult-like adoration. These cartoons are, however, a minority in the sea of animation. For most shows, the lack of fans can largely be attributed to their lack of greater meaning, a lack of signficance beyond the amusement.

Adult animation differs from conventional cartoons not only through its target audience, but also through the themes explored within its show. Adult cartoons are often satirical reflections of society and give viewers a new focus when tackling their nine-to-five. Sure, these cartoons can come off as silly, infantile, or downright ridiculous, but bouts of emotion make these shows worth watching. Though the shows may not be as intense or enlightening as The Newsroom‘s speech on the United States’ position as the world’s greatest country, they can genuinely tug at the heart and dig deep into their audience’s minds. At least, much more so than expected from an obese yellow man with an unhealthy donut problem.

The latest gem in this underrated genre is Bojack Horseman. Bojack Horseman features A-List actors, such as Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, Fast and Furious), Alison Brie (Community, The Lego Movie), and Will Arnett (Arrested Development, The Lego Movie), among many others. The casting budget is enormous and for good reason: the characters work with an on-screen fluidity and comfort only beat by South Park’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Netflix, the show’s producer, not only equipped the show with an awe-inspiring cast, but also hired The Black Keys’s Patrick Carney to write Bojack Horseman’s theme song and the chart-topping alternative rockers Grouplove to perform its outro. The show tells the story of a washed-up actor named Bojack Horseman (Arnett) who suffers from ennui as he struggles to regain America’s love after the cancellation of his 90’s sitcom “Horsin’ Around.”

What makes Bojack Horseman special is not the anthropomorphic characters or its talented cast, but rather its profound statements about popular culture. The show tackles multifarious issues, ranging from the reason behind child-celebrities’ delayed self-destructive behavior to more polemic topics, such as whether or not all military personnel who have served overseas should be automatically promoted to hero-status. Aside from how Bojack Horseman delves deeper into controversies than most other adult animation, excluding South Park, it also stands out for its masterful writing, especially that of Raphael Bob-Waksburg.

Adult animation tends to be a hit or a miss, and among so many misses like Robot Chicken or Squidbillies, Bojack Horseman is notable. Although it may not be the best in its genre, Bojack Horseman offers a level of entertainment and insight few other adult cartoons have demonstrated. Considering the show is still in the first season, it has room to grow with each coming episode and, it is hoped, mature more than its eccentric protagonist has thus far.