Hello and welcome, fellow Bojackers! Today’s episode is Hank After Dark, and wow. It’s a doozy. I’m going to say right at the top that I think this is the best episode of the season so far. We have some very timely commentary about our society that is biting and often hilarious. After the death of Bojack’s co-star on the last episode, he and Diane decide to go on a book tour to promote the paperback release of the book she wrote on him, One Trick Pony. But during a q&a, she goes off script and jeopardizes the book tour and Mr. Peanutbutter’s new show. Meanwhile, Todd find himself wrapped up in the international politics of Cordovia.
This episode wasn’t that funny. It wasn’t really trying to be. There are some very serious things being talked about in this episode, and while there are some laughs, the bulk of the story was our heroes dealing with some dark stuff. I’ll get into some of that, and also some stray observations that I found interesting or funny. I don’t want to slog us down too much. But I am feeling pretty bummed after watching that.
Oh, look! Here comes the article!
1. Hank Hippopopulous is Bill Cosby
At least that seems very clear on my end. A beloved TV star of the past is accused of sexual misconduct after years of no one talking about it because they’re afraid of his power. It could be a reference to David Letterman, or even Louis C.K. But it seems clear that the main target is Cosby. This episode was really great about taking to task the entrenched sexism in entertainment culture. At one point during the episode, Diane is talking to the editor of Manatee Fair (A Vanity Fair stand-in, except for manatees) who wants to publish a piece about her accusations against Hank. She says “Our culture is more concerned with protecting the reputation of a beloved figure than we are with protecting his victims.” The anger that comes through in this episode is most sharply focused through the lens of Diane, who almost accidentally pulls a Hannibal Buress while listing celebrities worse than Bojack. She mentions Hank and his allegations, thinking everyone knew about them, and instead sets off a media firestorm. The main difference here is that Diane is a woman. And I’ll get into that later.
2. This week in the misadventures of Todd…
The prince of Cordovia, a fictional war-torn country that is presumably somewhere in Eastern Europe, has come to visit LA while his country is in chaos. It just so happens that the prince looks almost exactly like Todd. So in sub-plot that is a complete send-up of Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America, the prince takes the identity of Todd while Todd himself is spirited off to Cordovia to run the country, assumedly. It was fun to see Mr. Peanutbutter really just not get any of the major hints that this guy wasn’t Todd. And it was good to get a little reprieve from the bleakness of the main plot of this episode. By the way, Aaron Paul’s commitment to that horrendous accent is just further proof of what a gem he is. But leave it to Bojack, we get a wrap around at the end of the episode that attempts to make us look a little harder at that story.
3. Todd makes a great point about our priorities
At the end of the episode, Todd finds Bojack and Diane. He’s in a tattered undershirt and what look like soiled underwear, a crazed look in his eyes. He starts telling them about the horrible circumstances in Cordovia, hadn’t they heard about it? No, they said. Diane and Hank had been ruling the news cycle for the past 24 hours. This drives Todd crazy. A genocide may have been committed in his name. The stakes are so high in Cordovia, but no one is paying attention. This does a good job of saying that yes, it’s important that our celebrities are held accountable for doing horrific things. But we also need to keep our eye on the bigger picture. Genocides are happening and no one cares. Boy, I’m starting to get a little preachy. How about a nice comment?
4. The writing is so good, you guys
Seriously, Kelly Galuska and Raphael Bob-Waksberg (the show creator) really did a stupendous job this time around. Even discounting the shrewd dialogue and keen awareness of important issues, this show had a great format (Bojack and Diane traveling city to city on the book tour) and great groundwork (starting the episode in ’94). But the word play. Oh, my friends the wordplay. I can’t even write any of it here, it went too quickly. There are so many instances of creating sentences full of ironic assonance and alliteration, creating monster tongue twisters without skipping a beat. I know, my nerd is showing. But god damn, I love me some good writing.
5. That banner is hilarious
We spend a lot of time throughout the episode going back to MSNBSea, apparently the network of record on this show. There’s a scrolling banner running the entire time, including one that said “Work at MSNBSea, they said. You can write your novel on weekends, they said.” Here’s an example.
Go watch the episode and look for it. There are many jokes to be had.
6. Another week starting with a flashback
This is the second episode in three weeks that starts with the characters in the past. This time, it was to establish that Hank was a hero of Mr. Peanutbutter’s and that meeting him was one of the greatest moments of his life. This is reinforced later when Mr. Peanutbutter’s show is scheduled to air right after Hanks show, Hey! I think You Can Dance! and Mr. PB is allowed to fawn over his hero a little bit. It was interesting because there seemed to be a lot of groundwork being laid for Mr. Peanutbutter to have a crisis of conscience. His wife is leading the attack against his hero, after all. But that never really came to fruition. In fact, the arc of Mr. PB this episode was basically telling Diane to stop doing what she’s doing. Not because of Hank, but because of the crazy amount of death threats she had been getting. Hopefully, we’ll get to see him struggle with this a little later in the season.
7. Okay, maybe there’s a little more Letterman in there than I thought
8. Bojack Horseman addresses the disgusting sexism of Hollywoo
As I mentioned earlier, the main reason Diane gets shouted down for trying to bring Hank to justice is because she’s a woman. This is reiterated time and time again as strangers call her a bitch and an “uppity cooze.” Even the editor of Manatee Fair, herself a woman, at first applauds Diane for “talking out of turn about a man,” but then retracts her support when her parent company pressures her. And the last shot of the episode is Diane sitting in the airport, waiting for her plane to Cordovia, when a man turns to her and says, “Smile.” Cut to credits. This is something I’ve never experienced as a man. I’ve never had somebody demand that I smile. And it’s a perfect little button at the end of the episode to drive the point home: Diane has less power because she’s a woman. It’s an uncomfortable fact in an episode filled to the brim with uncomfortable facts. God bless Bojack Horseman for having the gall to tackle them.
9. “We don’t torture. That’s called one of the amendments.”
Not a lot to this one. Mr. Peanutbuter says it off-handedly to the Todd imposter. It just made me laugh. Although there is some veiled commentary there about how Americans are not very good about being aware of civics. But I’ve done plenty of deep talk today. Let’s just laugh at how dumb Mr. Peanutbutter is.
10. What’s next?
After an episode so mic-droppingly awesome as this one, what could be next? Are they going to double down and continue this story line? Or was this more of a stand alone episode? Like one of those “Very Special Episodes” of sitcoms past that focused on a specific issue for a week, then moved on. I sure hope not. There’s a lot to mine in this story. I’m excited to see if they follow through.
Catch up on previous thoughts on Bojack Horseman below!
10 Thoughts on Bojack Horseman – Higher Love
10 Thoughts on Bojack Horseman – Chickens
10 Thoughts on Bojack Horseman – After The Party
10 Thoughts on Bojack Horseman – Still Broken
10 Thoughts on Bojack Horseman – Brand New Couch & Yesterdayland
Tags: Aaron Paul, amy sedaris, BoJack Horseman, Will Arnett