BoJack depression (A 5 point guide)

In this article, we will talk about BoJack depression. BoJack Horseman is an American adult animated tragicomedy sitcom created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg. We will do a psychological dissection of his character to understand his peculiarities and to know if he was in depression. 

Was BoJack Horseman in depression?

Yes. In fact, the show was lauded for its realistic representation of mental illness in the show through BoJack and other characters. 

Who is BoJack Horseman?

BoJack F. Horseman is a rather fashionable, brown-coloured humanoid horse, who spends much of his time in sadness, self-loathing and drinking intoxicating drink. He mentions that he also is a narcissist and often has anxiety. The show which is named after him was created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and aired by Netflix. The voice-over cast comprised of Will Arnett as BoJack and Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Paul Tompkins and Aaron Paul as other characters. 

If you get to watch the show, you will land up in an alternate hypothetical world where humans and anthropomorphic animals coexist. BoJack’s acting career was at its best when he starred in the 90s sitcom Horsin’ Around, which was about a young horse who adopted three orphaned children and raised them. 

Currently, BoJack plans a big comeback into his celebrity life with an autobiography to be written by a ghostwriter named Diane Nguyen. Amidst all this, he is battling an addiction to intoxicating drink and drugs and also depression which has its own set of hurdles to cross. 

BoJack also has a complicated relationship with a girl named Princess Carolyn, a difficult freeloading roommate named Todd Chavez, and his former rival Mr Peanutbutter.  

The writers of the show eventually tried their best to portray the mental health challenges faced by the other characters in the show as part of their everyday lives. This gave a more comprehensive understanding of how people deal with their own struggles and also attempt to engage with people who have different kinds of struggles. Princess Carolyn also has high functioning depression and self esteem issues. Another character named Diane from the series also suffers from anxiety and depression. Mr. Peanutbutter probably has narcissistic tendencies but becomes ‘The Face of Depression’ after he has an infidelity scandal. Todd can be considered as a case of Attention Deficit Disorder because of his forgetfulness and inability to stick to a job. 

Early life of BoJack Horseman

BoJack belong to a privileged family in terms of wealth but he grew up in an unhealthy and dysfunctional family environment. His mother,  Beatrice, currently a housewife, grew up in a wealthy family and was the heiress to a huge empire. While his father, Butterscotch, was a failed novelist and belonged to a working-class background. 

 There were instances where his father would verbally and physically abuse little BoJack. His mom believed that before BoJack’s birth she was beautiful. His parents would have loud arguments about their son in front of him. His father was a womanizer and had many instances of adultery outside the marriage. He would do everything possible to not be around his wife and child. Both his parents would drink intoxicating drink frequently and smoke heavily.   

Fans relatability with the show and the character

Fans of the show across the globe appreciated the show for its wholesome depiction of existential crisis and depression in comparison to other shows with sub-par or misguided depiction. 

People were reported saying that their depression felt understood. It depicts how mental illness cannot be overcome just by the willpower of the person or a magical life-changing moment from when the illness simply ceases to exist. The show also throws light on how money, fame, material success aren’t the primary influencers for a person’s depression.

 For people who know people with depression, it provides insights on how their loved one/acquaintance feels as they battle extreme sadness and how they can offer support.

The show also made a difference in how the viewers perceive themselves, more reflection on the self and their negative self-talk.  

Psychological dissection of the character: BoJack Horseman

Constant feelings of sadness

BoJack was often found self- loathing, displeased with his own self and engaging in negative self talk. People have a voice in their head which directs them to feel a certain way and take actions accordingly. BoJack spent much of his time feeling bad about himself and calling himself “stupid” .  He would feel inferior to others. To avoid feeling inferior, depressed people often fall back on substance use which is what BoJack did. He also had tendencies of acting out his anger and recurring thoughts of ending his life.

Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and guilt

BoJack has a tough time figuring out life and often feels he is incapable of doing anything substantially good. He feels all his efforts towards becoming popular again are going in vain and it is almost impossible to achieve back the stardom he once had. 

Having critical parents all through his life, he grew up to be overly critically of his self. He would often feel let by his own self because his expectations were unrealistic. 

Negative view of life.i.e pessimism. 

BoJack, metaphorically, often viewed life from a gray set of glasses. He was rather pessimistic about people, their intentions and how life would unfold for him. This again, can have much to do with the early life experiences he had in the dysfunctional home where he was barely ever appreciated or rejoiced in the victories of little things in life. 

He rejects responsibility all his life, including taking up the responsibility for his own happiness. 

BoJack also faced existential crisis. Existential nihilism asks the question if life is essentially meaningless then how is one supposed to deal with it? BoJack often fell in the trap of this kind of thinking, failing to appreciate the gift of life. 

Decreased interest in daily activities, including sex

After his success in his sitcom long back, BoJack has not been able to do substantial work professionally. He finds it difficult to focus on one task often shifting focus from what he really wants in his life. Even when he decides what he wants he puts bare minimum efforts to make his dream a reality. 

Though BoJack has quite a few scenes of sexual intercourse, it felt like more of a coping mechanism for him against his loneliness than a genuine interest to have sex.  

Difficulty maintaining long term relationships because of the psychological concerns

Having come from a troubled family atmosphere, BoJack developed mistrust quite early in his life. This had a snowballed effect on him as an adult as well. He finds it difficult to trust people including people he considered as his friends. He would doubt people’s intentions and would feel he is at a disadvantage. 


What can be done if you are dealing with depression as BoJack is

Understand that there is no shame in having a mental illness or disorder 

Be like BoJack. In great despair, BoJack frequently talks in a self-loathing manner but that also means that he is aware and accepts his mental health chaos and struggle with intoxicating-drink addiction.  The social stigma attached to mental health is what prohibits people from seeking help at the right time. There is no shame in having a mental illness, it can happen to anyone, at any age, with or without any triggering situation. 

Talk openly about your struggles

Again, be like BoJack. He was quite frank about his life struggles with his romantic interests and friends. Some of his dialogues clearly state the state of mind he was in. For examples, “I’ve had a lot of what I thought were rock bottoms, only to discover another, rockier bottom” and “Sometimes I think I was born with a leak, and any goodness I started with just slowly spilled out of me and now it’s all gone. And I’ll never get it back in me”. 

It is essential to talk to people about what you are going through because they can probably guide you towards a better life. 

Seek social support by joining a support group 

BoJack seeks help from support groups for his addiction. Similarly, support groups exist for a number of causes like depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. support groups are beneficial for people because the feeling of belongingness and oneness in suffering boosts the confidence in recovery. People seek inspiration from other survivors and people in the same boat. 

Consult a psychiatrist 

A psychiatrist can prescribe medication, for example, antidepressants based on the severity of the condition of the person. Antidepressants are an important part of recovery and going to a professional should not be delayed. 

Seek mental health therapy 

Consulting a counsellor/ psychotherapist is essential in mental health issues. This, most often, goes hand in hand with medication based on the severity of depression. 

A counsellor can bring in newer ways of perception, help the person to emote better while engaging in healthy boundary-making. The counsellor can also help the person eradicate irrational thoughts and beliefs that inhibit the person’s well-being. The counsellor and the client, together, also work on and construct healthier coping mechanisms against stressors for the client. 

Improve lifestyle choices and work towards good health

Health is a concept with many interlinkages and it is also all-encompassing. One can’t expect to have good mental health if their physical health is deteriorating and vice-versa. Exercising, healthy eating habits, good sound sleep and practising mindfulness, along with any medication/therapy if need be, can help attain victory over any condition, including depression. 


In this article, we talked about BoJack depression. BoJack the Humanoid Horse from the Netflix show BoJack Horseman battles with addiction and depression. We did a psychological dissection of his character to understand his peculiarities and to know if he was in depression. We also looked at what can one do in case they relate quite well with BoJack with regard to his depression symptoms. 

Frequently asked questions:  BoJack depression.

Is the show BoJack Horseman depressing?

The genre of the show is a tragicomedy, meaning that the tragedies of life are woven in with hysteria. The show in itself, overall, is not depressing. But, if you relate too well with the characters it could seem depressing. It could be a sign that you relate well because you are in the same situation. In that case, do not avoid or run away from seeking help. 

Is BoJack Horseman for adults?

Yes, the show is meant for adult viewing. 

Who is BoJack Horseman based on?

BoJack Horseman is the creation of writer Raphael Bob-Waksberg and cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt. Many of the stories and sets are inspired by the real-life experiences of the writer as he moved to a big city and experienced life-altering changes. 

References :

  1. Parashar, Poorva. (2020). Bojack Horseman and Mental Health : An Academic Exploration of Existentialist Themes. 10.13140/RG.2.2.22763.16162. 

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