“Bojack Horseman”: The Psychology of Consequences

Rita Russo


August 25, 2021

No TV show I’ve ever seen has caused me to go from laughing out loud to collapsing into tears in the same 20 minute episode except for Bojack Horseman, all the while contemplating my own life choices.

Bojack Horseman, created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (who also created The Simpsons), explores themes including mental illness, addiction, relationships, sexuality, family, death to highlight the life lessons we acquire from the consequences of our actions, especially the choices we make that stem from the spiraling self destructive phases we go through in our darkest times.

The depth and complexity of each character adds to the unique plot that goes down paths and connects with one another in ways that viewers rarely expect. Every main character has their own deeply complicated lives in which the viewer becomes truly invested, wanting them to succeed and make the right choices, and feeling their regret when they don’t. It’s a love-hate relationship with most of the characters; we bond and empathize with them, we feel for them as they make terrible mistakes. We feel their shame, but we feel the strength of their personalities when they admit they’re wrong even more so. Their character development grows when they learn from their mistakes, and each character changes drastically with every life- altering decision that leads them down a deep pool of consequences—and every time ending with an epiphany about life that causes us to step back and look at our own.

A vital life lesson I took away from the show was that sometimes we are the toxic person.

We watch the main character of a show we are supposed to love make awful decisions and ruin his own life. But are we supposed to love him? Or are we supposed to learn from his mistakes by recognizing the toxicity of his actions? In Bojack Horseman our relationship with Bojack grows deeper as we live through the raw consequences of his choices.

Another life lesson Bojack teaches us is his idea that, “The universe has a way of looking out for us if we just stop fighting it.” We see Bojack make many awful decisions throughout the show. We see the repercussions he faces such as ending relationships, losing his job, public backlash, going to prison, and more. In order to move forward from our mistakes we must be able to look past our ego and let go of toxic cycles— and trust the universe has our back through the lessons that come after such mistakes.

Another major lesson I think we could all learn from Bojack is that it’s okay to remove toxic people from your life. This lesson is displayed the clearest through the main characters Todd and Diane. They are the two people Bojack considers his best friends, and when they eventually make the choice to distance themselves from Bojack after many years of dealing with his spiraling life choices that has left them feeling hurt and betrayed time and time again, we realize this hard choice is something not talked about enough. They finally realize that Bojack was not their responsibility to fix— Bojack had to learn from his mistakes on his own, and both Todd and Diane knew they did not deserve to feel any more pain as a result of Bojack’s actions.

Diane said in the very last episode (spoilers!), “I think there are people that help you become the person that you end up being, and you can be grateful for them… even if they were never meant to be in your life forever.” This life lesson is prevalent throughout the entire show. We hold on to what is familiar; as humans, we don’t want to let go, or admit things change and are out of our control. But the lesson that not everyone has our best interest at heart – we ourselves are the only ones we can depend on to do that – teaches us that the relationships we grow and change from are what truly make us who we are, and it’s up to us to decide where that will go.

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With immense gratitude, the Promly Team.

Rita Russo

Rita Russo is a junior at Loyola Marymount University studying psychology, philosophy and English. In her free time she enjoys reading and writing, playing guitar, skiing, reading tarot cards and hiking. Rita plans on pursuing a career involving writing and editing.