I started watching the Netflix cartoon Bojack Horseman. I can't say why I jumped on the bandwagon exactly, but once I got on I really didn't want to get off again.
Bojack Horseman is the sort of show I have trouble pinning down. Is it a ridiculous, idiotic comedy that relies on sex jokes and absurdity to get a couple of giggles, or is it an insightful critique of modern society? I can't tell!
The show stars a horse. Who is a man. I mean, he has the body of a middle aged human male, with a horse's head. The rest of the world is populated by a mixture of relatively normal humans and humans with animal heads. That would be pretty weird just on its own, but the animals do impossible yet thematically appropriate things. The ones with bird heads can flap their arms and fly around... but they are flapping entirely normal human arms.
Also three main characters are Bojack Horseman, a horse/man, Princess Carolyn (not actually a princess), a cat/woman, and Mr. Peanut Butter (not actually composed of peanut butter), a dog/man. Did somebody get a four year old to name these characters? Are their names supposed to be clever and ironic somehow?
I have a lot of respect for writing that makes me stare at the screen while stroking my beard and wondering if the writers are incredibly clever or incredibly dumb.
The thing is, the characters oscillate rapidly between preposterous comedy and interesting interaction that showcases real dilemmas and challenging situations. Bojack sets up a giant autoerotic asphyxiation structure in his bedroom just to try to figure out if his girlfriend will tell him not to use it, because this will reveal if she loves him or not. On the other hand once that comedy gold is mined thoroughly they actually have a real conversation that is kind of touching and it feels like how real people might deal with complicated conflict.
There is an episode largely about the ethical conflicts of eating meat, and it makes interesting points by having chicken/people farming other chicken/people to supply chicken as a food to other humans and human hybrids. Of course it includes a car driving through a barn as part of a caper to rescue the food chickens from the chicken farmers (who are themselves chickens) so you can't take it too seriously.
But maybe the hijinks involved are just there so the writers can send a message about how humans wall off some creatures as being worth saving while others are okay to torture and consume, and make those divisions based on random and indefensible criteria. If you add comedy, you don't sound quite so preachy, see?
I just don't know. Is it mindless crap, just filling my days, or is it brilliant satire? I don't know.
I do know that it makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis and I care about the characters even though they are silly and surreal. Maybe that is all I need to know to decide that I should watch the next episode, so the writers have succeeded in that, at least.