Show Don’t Tell: Bojack Horseman’s Spoken and Unspoken Representation

Image Source: cinemablend

Bojack Horseman is a groundbreaking show. It’s been discussed and analyzed to death–the topic of written dissertations–and none of that is unwarranted. The show truly encompasses how storytelling connects with its audience. It tackles issues like addiction, depression, sexism, miscarriages, and childhood trauma, all while keeping its quick wit and realistically developing the characters over its six seasons. 

One key player in the show is Diane. A fairly polarizing character, Diane goes on a journey of self-discovery through the years. She has a tumultuous marriage, a rocky relationship with the titular character Bojack, struggles to find real friendships for herself, and questions whether her choices have improved her life or led her astray. In the final season, we see things looking up for Diane in a way that comes with its own challenges. 


By the end of the show, Diane is in a good relationship after her divorce, and she finally has the motivation to write the book she’s been putting off for years. The downside is her imposter syndrome. A consistent character trait we see in Diane is that she doesn’t believe she’s good enough. This eventually comes to a head and leads to her falling into depression. In one of the episodes, Diane’s boyfriend Guy is trying to convince her to get some help, and she argues against going on antidepressants. She’d been on them in college, and they came with side effects including gaining weight. While this is said as a negative, it’s also spoken of fairly nonchalantly. Diane doesn’t want to gain weight because it would be another indicator of her being unwell, another life change that she’d have to contend with, rather than something that measures her worth. When she does go on the medication and it makes her gain weight, the show doesn’t bring attention to it. Diane is allowed to simply be and improve on her health struggles while being in a loving relationship. There’s no expectation that she will have to lose weight as soon as possible to look “desirable” for her boyfriend. She’s able to be comfortable on her journey to love who she is while knowing that the people in her life love her as well. 

This was, in my opinion, one of the most subtle but meaningful aspects of the show as they hadn’t really tackled body image issues. The characters were usually depicted as skinny and conventionally attractive (at least by anthropomorphic animal standards) and to have a main character go through a very clear, physical change while she was experiencing a mental health crisis could have easily been depicted in an insensitive way. Instead, they illustrated that it’s okay to look any which way as long as you love who you are and are putting your health first.