Netflix original series BoJack Horseman is coming back for season four tomorrow, September 8, and if you haven't caught up on the show just yet, it's well worth your time. The animated show about a washed-up 90s sitcom actor (who also happens to be a horse) is a little bit Mad Men with some dark Simpsons, plus a heaping dose of existential crisis. Watch it closely though, because a lot of the best jokes are woven deep into the show's design.
Even if you're not a fan of cartoons, it's entertaining and intricately done. Each episode is packed with an Arrested Development-level joke density and therefore the show has great replay value.
The show is set in a Los Angeles just like the one we know, except a lot of its residents are animals that walk and talk like people. The premise also lends itself very well to a lot of puns and animal-related jokes, often written as text in the background of a scene on a billboard or a banner. Plus, I imagine the writers have a lot of fun deciding which animals would play the BoJack Horseman versions of real actors – Jon Hamm's head shot shows up in the background of one scene, and he's (literally) a pig. Just try not to think too hard about the fact that a human woman is in a relationship with a celebrity yellow lab, and you'll be good to go.
Even though the show's background sight gags may look effortless, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to pull it off. Lisa Hanawalt is an illustrator for the show, and in an interview for Laist, she talked about the attention to detail she puts into each scene she works on. She also mentioned her personal favorite sight gag in the show, but again, there are tons of them. If you're watching and you notice words in the background of a scene, hit pause, because I promise you they're spelling out something hilarious. From a Starbucks menu to a movie theater marquee, nothing is overlooked in the making of this show.
Though technically a comedy, this bright-colored cartoon centers around some deeply unhappy people (and animals) and tackles some weighty storylines. It's also my favorite thing on TV right now, and it has way deeper emotional depth than you think it's going to at (horse) face value.
Check out season four starting September 8 on Netflix.