In 2014, the first season of Bojack Horseman was released. Since being added to Netflix in 2019, the show has become a hit because of the relatability that the characters exude, especially Bojack. When this show was first recommended to me, I never thought it would touch me in the way that it did. The reality of how mental illness was portrayed throughout the show was the first time I’ve ever felt truly seen and understood by a character. Because the different mental illnesses represented in the show aren’t glorified or romanticized, viewers are able to connect with the characters on a deeper level, hence the success of the sitcom.
Bojack himself depicts many different symptoms of mental illness, addiction, and self-destruction that were shown surprisingly accurately. I’ve struggled with mental illness my entire life, and as someone who’s diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), I can sympathize with Bojack’s emotions. Although it’s pretty clear that Bojack struggles with at least depression throughout the show, there’s no clear evidence that he has BPD besides the symptoms he exhibits that correlate with the disorder. But, even if there’s no official statement from the writers stating that Bojack does or does not have BPD, his character still shows a lot of the major signs of having BPD, such as a fear of abandonment, manipulation, low self-esteem, narcissism, and impulsivity. Watching a TV show and seeing a character visualize the same symptoms and thought processes that I have been dealing with all my life honestly helped me feel less alone. It’s like a breath of fresh air when a piece of media finally characterizes mental illness correctly, especially in this day and age when Hollywood doesn’t understand the extent of how devastating dealing with mental illness can be and tries to make it quirky.
The complexity of Bojack Horseman’s character provides perspectives into mental health challenges and makes people feel a little less alone. The authenticity that the characters emit is rare to see in the media and incredibly refreshing.