Among the nearly 1,000 original programs that Netflix has produced and distributed in the past five years, Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s animated dramedy BoJack Horseman reigns (and reins) supreme. This largely due to amazing lengths that Bob-Waksberg and his writer’s room will go to craft such heartfelt stories about things like depression, addiction and grief that, again, are set in a cartoon world where people coexist with anthropomorphic talking animals. Of course, that’s not to say that BoJack Horseman hasn’t been plagued by its own problems. This is especially evident in the show’s constant fight for renewal, for despite being a critical hit, Netflix always seems to wait until the last minute to order another season. Bob-Waksberg spoke to Metro about this, as well as whether or not he’s up for a BoJack Horseman season 6.
Raphael Bob-Waksberg talks new season, possible Bojack Horseman season 6
BoJack Horseman is celebrated by fans and critics alike for its balance of humor and darker subjects, but some audiences have been turned off by the latter.
I’m in favor of people liking the show in any way they want to. We have fans who love the comedy and are less interested in the drama, while others prefer the dark melancholy center of it all to the goofy animal jokes. Some fans like different characters. I’d say if you like the show, then it’s working, and I’m not going to tell you you’re enjoying it wrong. I’m all for people getting whatever they get out of it in any way that’s positive.
How do you and everyone else in the writer’s room approach the show’s bigger themes? For example, this season really digs into stories about addiction and grief.
It usually comes from the stories we’ve told so far and where they’ve left us, and asking ourselves, “Where do we go from here?” Every season starts from a certain place. What is BoJack doing? Where has he been? Where is he going? We had suggested a certain trajectory of growth in the last four seasons, but it’s not always in the correct direction. We’ve been inching toward a desire for redemption, for a kind of inner peace.
If we’re really telling that story, or trying to be responsible with that story, and he’s not there yet, then there are steps we need to take to help him get there. In other words, if we want to go lighter, then first we have to go darker. We’re not out of the woods yet. It would be disingenuous to pretend that we were. There were more rock bottoms to hit before this character could really make the correct effort to start climbing out of the pit he had dug for himself.
BoJack definitely digs himself into some pretty deep pits this season. Then again, the show at large does that, too. I’m thinking especially of the long eulogy scene.
I was really glad to have that opportunity, to take time with the character. That’s what I love about that episode, is that we can kind of shovel away a lot of the distractions and just focus on this one character. We can hone in on what he’s going through and the nuance of all that. Finding the comedy in that, as well as the drama, and really exploring all of the different levels that he’s feeling in that moment… It was a great opportunity for us.
I’m no TV writer, but balancing the sheer amount of comedy and drama BoJack exudes, all while doing it for an animated series, feels like quite the challenge.
I think every writer brings something different to the table, which is what’s nice about having a whole room. That’s something that was very important to me from the beginning. I didn’t just want writers who did what I do. For five seasons, we’ve had a really great staff from diverse backgrounds, all of them very different people with very different approaches to comedy and drama. That has been really helpful for writing all these characters, which helps “BoJack” be a very well-rounded show. It’s never the same voice, over and over again.
Now that season five is coming out, what are your plans for the future? Can we expect BoJack Horseman season 6? Will you keep doing BoJack as long as Netflix and its fans want more of it?
I’m always sure that every season is going to be the season that everyone turns on us, the season that we finally screw it up. Every year that doesn’t happen, it only increases the pressure for the following year. Someday, I’ll probably crack and walk away from the show because it’s killing me, but maybe I’ll wait until we get that eventual backlash. Though really, I’m going to keep making the show as long as I can.
I won’t say as long as Netflix allows me to, because I don’t know where I’m going be, or what I’m going to be going, in the future. But as long as I feel like the show has promise, and Netflix allows us to, it’s a world that’s still worth expanding. Our audience is still growing and I’m still excited by it. There might come a time when the show doesn’t excite me anymore, but there are still lots of stories and relationships to explore. It hasn’t gotten boring yet. There’s a danger of it becoming boring for an audience, maybe before it becomes boring for me, but as long as they still enjoy it, and I still enjoy it, I’m going to keep making it.
There’s always the Key & Peele route, too. That is, deciding to end a thing when it’s still riding high and the audience is still clamoring for it.
Right, but again, there is still a lot of promise in BoJack for me. I’m still excited by it. If it ever got boring, I would walk away, especially if it felt like I was spinning my wheels. But it’s a great setup, and I really love the people I work with. I don’t know that I’m ever going to make a show like this again. This is my one opportunity to tell these kinds of stories and make these kinds jokes. Plus, it’s a very large canvas. We’ve shown that we can tell all sorts of stories with all kinds of characters from different parts of society, and I would like to continue expanding it.
But we’ll see what happens. You could be talking to me in six months, and I’ll say, “Nope, it’s done. Goodbye!” I don’t know. We’ll see. Though I do feel comfortable saying that I don’t think the fifth season is the last. I hope there are more, but we’ll see.
BoJack Horseman season six streams Friday on Netflix. As for BoJackHorseman season 6, we’ll have to wait and see.