Netflix's BoJack Horseman season 1: TV review

Netflix's latest original pokes fun at washed-up celebrities and the media's treatment of them

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The Independent Culture

The goal is to "become HBO faster than HBO can become us," Netflix's CEO declared last year, but with animated series now being produced and a talk show in the works, it seems the streaming service is hoping to encroach on the ground of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, NBC and more too.

Turbo FAST was their first foray into cartoons, but now comes BoJack Horseman, an adult-orientated one that focuses on a washed-up TV star horse frittering away the last of his sitcom money on booze and an increasingly disinterested girlfriend who is a cat (the interpolation of talking animals remains gloriously unexplained).

Pitched somewhere in between Archer, Family Guy and Regular Show, it is in part a commentary on the systematic character assassination of spiralling Hollywood stars a la Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan, with the first season seeing BoJack (Will Arnett) misquoted on a rolling news service, papped in bed with a former co-star and struggling to set the record straight with a tell-all memoir.

It could easily stray into a preachiness about the state of pop culture and the media, but newcomer creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg wisely steers clear of this, with BoJack's self-pity and naval-gazing ultimately being the butt of most jokes.

If there's a problem in the first three episodes that I've seen it's that the show looks down on the cheap jokes of BoJack's 90s sitcom 'Horsin' Around' while relying on a fair few sitcom tropes itself, but there's enough laughs here to keep you ploughing through the first batch of 12 episodes, which unites the holy internet trinity of animals dressed as humans, whiskey and Aaron Paul (who voices Todd).

The voice acting is great, and BoJack's ennui is sure to resonate with a generation driven to anxiety attacks by technology, blinking news feeds and increasingly unromantic romances.

Season one of BoJack Horseman premieres with 12 episodes on Netflix on 22 August.