The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

Meeting the Faces of Depression

Taylor Barry

Posted on October 28, 2019 16:31

1 user

*Minor spoilers* BoJack Horseman returns with its most self-aware look at mental health and our ability to 'fail up'. It's multi-faceted approach delves into the complicated nature of living with depression.

The first half of the final season of the outstanding Netflix series, BoJack Horseman, dropped on October 25th and it is nothing short of phenomenal. A perfect balance of dark comedy and heart-wrenching storylines, season 6 perfectly dives into each character's continued stagnation and growth in light of their own insecurities and personal motivations.  

One of the standout storylines revolves around Mr. Peanutbutter accepting the role as the 'Face of Depression' for a national mental health awareness campaign in episode seven. A blatant parody of depression medication ads and meme culture, the dog finds himself at the center of the campaign trying to rebuild his reputation as part of a PR blitz. A viral 'sad dog' meme and PSA's littered with stereotypes and overplayed imagery, it's easy to laugh along with the chipper lead looking for depression in a stormy field.

Subsequent conversations between Mr. Peanutbutter and his partners continue to satirize society's lack of understanding of the complex nature of mental illness. Mr. Peanutbutter admits he doesn't think he is depressed, only knowing what he read in a pamphlet. Blissfully ignorant, it emphasizes the irony of his role as the single face of depression.

The misnomer of depression is there is a single set of symptoms and treatments that each diagnosis needs to follow. BoJack Horseman has become a cherished show in the manner it breaks down the complex nature of mental illness without standardizing it. Each character's depression manifests itself in a different self destructive behavior and scale across a spectrum.

BoJack's addiction and inability to manage stable relationships stems from his emotionally abusive childhood. Mr. Peanutbutter masks an underlying nihilistic view of the world and insatiable need for unconditional love with a smile and charm. Diane retreats into her own physical home hiding from insecurities in her profession and diagnosis. We see Gina, a ground-up #metoo story, develop antagonistic defense mechanisms from trauma she cannot speak of. 

Each character wrestles with how to manage the pain; are people capable of change or are they born with a surface value that conceals the nothingness below? An overarching theme each season raises questions about our ability to create our own happiness and what self-actualization demands. And over the course of this season we realize there is no single answer.

Today's society has given a larger platform to mental illness while simultaneously stigmatizing it. Invisibility diverts a certain amount of sympathy from what isn't easily understood. In an underplayed scene from this episode, Diane makes an off-screen decision to take anti-depressants. Carefully handled by the writers, the minimal attention works to normalize medication when it's not necessarily a readily accepted choice.

"We see you found solace in our show." A meta analysis of our heroes' cyclical journeys through struggle and growth, the episode ends with glimpses of hope. Beautifully set to "Take Me Down Easy" by James Henry Jr., subtle vulnerabilities reveal themselves in touching moments of strength and perseverance.

Taylor Barry

Posted on October 28, 2019 16:31

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
1

According to Variety , BoJack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and producers Kate Purdy, Noel Bright, and Steven...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest