15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘BoJack Horseman’
BoJack Horseman achieved the unthinkable, for there has never been another animated sitcom that saw so many viewers discuss a deeply troubled anthropomorphic horse with their therapists. The critically acclaimed dark comedy that ran from 2014 to 2020 was groundbreaking and featured some of the strangest looking and most delightful animated characters Netflix has ever put out. The show had as many truth bombs as it had absurd situations, and its depiction of serious issues like addiction and depression was lauded by many as not only an accurate representation but quite touching without losing its humor.
We rounded up trivia tidbits about the show that inadvertently took the old “Why the long face” joke and created an entire series out of it...
The Similarities Between BoJack and Don Draper from ‘Mad Men’
In an interview with Slate, creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg ran down the movies and shows that had the most significant impact on him and the series. They included Arrested Development, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Simpsons — “they were able to tell sometimes sad stories in ways that didn’t sacrifice comedy” — and, funnily enough, Mad Men. “You might say BoJack is kind of Don Draper-y,” Bob-Waksberg explained. “And there’s a specific thing that Mad Men made me feel, which is that it crawled inside of me and kind of wormed inside of me in ways that I did not understand. And it felt like magic.”
The Episode That’s Based on a ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Spec Script
BoJack writer Peter Knight wrote a spec script for Curb Your Enthusiasm that saw Larry David appearing on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? alongside Ron Howard. Howard tells David that he doesn’t know who he is. In turn, Larry pretends like he doesn’t know Howard either and proceeds to blow up his own game on purpose. This is pretty much the exact plot we see play out in the episode “Let’s Find Out,” featuring Daniel Radcliffe.
The Show Was Inspired By the Creator’s First Apartment in L.A.
When Bob-Waksberg first moved to Los Angeles, he lived in a tiny room in a huge house that made him feel some things. “I would say the beginnings of BoJack actually came from when I first moved to L.A., and I was staying in a house that was, like, a friend of a friend’s, up in the Hollywood Hills,” he remembers. “It was, like, $400 for this tiny, tiny room in this beautiful house that actually looked a lot like BoJack’s does. And I remember looking out over the city and feeling simultaneously on top of the world and also never more isolated or alone.”
The Drummer of The Black Keys Wrote the Theme Song
The Black Keys’ drummer, Patrick Carney, composed the opening theme and got his Uncle Ralph to collaborate on the piece. It’s also been pointed out that the BoJack Horseman theme is reminiscent of the opening RJD2 composition of Mad Men.
Ben Stiller Inspired BoJack
In 2011, Bob-Waksberg emailed his high school friend and cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt with an idea about a talking horse who is also depressed. “And I was, like, ‘Oh, that sounds cool! Sounds a little depressing,” Hanawalt has remembered. “Kind of reminds me of Ben Stiller’s character in Greenberg.’ He was, like, ‘Yeah! That’s exactly what I was thinking, totally an inspiration.’” The cartoonist said that she was hesitant about the project, especially the depression angle, but her friend persisted, and she eventually caved.
At One Point, the Show Was Going to Be a Sports Comedy
While hashing out the concept of the show with the producers, it was suggested that, instead of BoJack being a has-been actor, he should perhaps be a former sports pro. “The question was: ‘Could it be sports? Instead of a former sitcom actor, could he be a former racehorse? And what would that look like?’” Bob-Waksberg told Vulture in the site’s oral history of the show. “I had some pitches for that, and how the story would change, but I said, ‘I really like the show-business angle, and here’s why…’”
Todd Originally Looked Somewhat Different
While there were some minor changes made to the characters between the pilot presentation and the show’s first episode, Todd was the one who had the biggest overhaul because the producers and even the cartoonist thought he looked “weird” and “ugly.”
The Homage to Animator Don Hertzfeldt
In listing yet some more animated movies and shows that contributed to the creation of his Netflix series — including Archer, Daria, Animaniacs, South Park and Futurama — Bob-Waksberg singled out animator Don Hertzfeldt whose work once featured in The Simpsons in the form of that surreal couch gag.
Bob-Waksberg specifically referenced Hertzfeldt’s short, Rejected, as a major influence:
The BoJack Horseman creator explained that BoJack’s first drug trip took a lot from the Hertzfeldt short. “There’s some stuff where (BoJack) falls apart and gets erased, and the paper gets crinkly, which is very much from that short,” Bob-Waksberg told Rolling Stone. “And (Hertzfeldt) is such a cool guy who’s working outside the realms of most professional animators, just doing his own thing, not selling it to studios and not watering it down. He’s so good.”
Margo Martindale’s Character Got Mistook for Her Real Life
On BoJack, character actress Margo Martindale is, quite frankly, criminally insane and ends up serving time in the Hollywood Hills Supermax Prison. The real Martindale (who also voices the role) said that her husband once looked at her Wikipedia page, only to discover that someone had added, “Margo spent the last year in prison for armed robbery.”
Why Will Arnett Took the Part
The actor who voices the famous washed-up thoroughbred told the New York Times that he was drawn to BoJack because the horse man is such a jerk. “I love a flawed character more than anything,” he admitted.
Arnett also spoke out about the inherent soul-crushing nature of Hollywood: “The brass ring here is so shiny and so big, and the possibilities endless. So people come here because they want to be a star, whatever that means — that is the pinnacle. So when it doesn’t happen, bad things tend to happen.”
Why a Horse?
Hanawalt has been drawing animal cartoons (especially anthropomorphic ones) since she was young and harbors a deep affection for horses. She told the New Yorker that horses make her feel good but admitted that she also finds them dangerous and unpredictable. Hanawalt relayed a story about once riding a horse that got totally freaked out when it met a bucket in its path. That, she says, is relatable because she describes herself as a “super-anxious person” who has to deal with “personal scary buckets.”
How Rian Johnson Ended Up on the Show
The Knives Out director was a big fan from the get-go. “When we first aired, I got an email from Rian Johnson saying, ‘I just finished BoJack Horseman Season One for the second time, and I had no idea that I would cry so much watching a cartoon on television,” Aaron Paul (who voices Todd) revealed. “And then we actually ended up getting him a role on the show (as Brian, an improv troupe member). He just had to be a part of it.”
Princess Carolyn and Her Tongue Twisters
During a discussion about Season Four, the topic of Princess Carolyn (played by Amy Sedaris) and her delicious tongue twisters came up. When asked how Sedaris felt about all the tricky dialogue she had for the season, Bob-Waksberg told Yahoo!: “She hates them, which is why we give her so many. … She also is good at it. She really has a way of stringing them together in these very funny ways, so it is a joy. Yeah, this season, we drew a new character who was named specifically to give Amy more tongue twisters to say.”
The Fifth Season Was Inspired By Mel Gibson (And Hollywood)
Bob-Waksberg told The New York Times that the events in Hollywood at the time informed much of what we saw in Season Five and its overall theme of disgraced celebrities. “One of the things we responded to, or at least I personally was responding to, was the fact that my agency had signed Mel Gibson as a client, which I found really repugnant,” he explained. “I complained about it, and I wanted to explore that. What is the proper amount of time before we, as a community, decide to forgive a person? What hoops do they have to jump through — which is a very cynical way of putting it — for us to forgive them? I found myself, in this particular case, really unwilling to forgive. But also, I am someone who does believe in the power of forgiveness, generally.”
What Makes Bob-Waksberg Proudest of the Show
Asked by Slash Film, the creator said: “When I am proudest of my show, which has happened a couple of times, is when people have told me, ‘I talk about your show with my therapist to describe how I am feeling. Your show gives me language to identify the way that I see the world that before now I was unable to articulate.’ That is not necessarily our mission when we write every episode because I don’t think that’s a good way to write television if that’s what you’re aiming at. But the fact that that is a result does make me very proud, and it is something that makes me feel good about the show that I’m making when other times I don’t necessarily feel good.”