Follow TV Tropes


Just For Fun / Horsin' Around

Go To
Three little orphans — one, two, three.
Without a home or a family tree.
Until this horse said, "Live with me,"
And now they've got a new family!
— The theme song

Horsin' Around is a Sitcom created by Herb Kazzaz and starring BoJack Horseman, Joelle Clarke, Bradley Hitler-Smith, and Sarah Lynn. It ran from 1987 to 1996.

The premise was simple: Horse (played by BoJack Horseman) decides to adopt three orphans, Olivia (Joelle Clarke), Ethan (Bradley Hitler-Smith), and Sabrina (Sarah Lynn) and has to balance being a father with his job and his love life. Olivia was the sensible oldest daughter, Ethan was the nerdy middle son, and Sabrina was the adorable youngest daughter. Rounding out the cast was Goober, the obnoxious neighbor and potential love interest for Olivia.

Despite its commercial success, the show was never popular with critics, who thought it was an unintelligent, overly-saccharine Cliché Storm. Nonetheless, it was universally praised by audiences (and lasted nine seasons) and is overall remembered fondly by fans, particularly those who grew up in The '90s.

The show is also widely cited as Sarah Lynn's first serious acting role, and the one that first launched her into the stardom she would later accumulate in her teens.

BoJack Horseman and Bradley Hitler-Smith would later try to create a Sequel Series titled Ethan Around, but Horseman allegedly walked off the project during the production of the pilot and never picked it back up.

As of 2020, allegations against BoJack Horseman that include grooming young women and the unintentional assist in Sarah Lynn's overdose have put a damper on the show's reputation, and the show is not as widely praised as it once was by those who used to watch it. A heavily edited version of the show — titled "Around" — is set to be released, which will be roughly 8 minutes in length and center on the child characters living alone without any adult supervision.

Horsin' Around contains examples of

  • All Just a Dream: All of season 3, where Horse became President of the United States, was declared All Just a Dream in season 4. To be fair, the plotline was crazy enough that there wasn't any real way to get back from it without succumbing to Seasonal Rot.
  • And Starring: The show's theme song famously ends with "and starring BoJack Horseman as the Horse".
  • Baseball Episode: "Goober Goes Home" had Goober play softball.
  • Birthday Episode:
    • In one episode, Sabrina tries to cook the horse spaghetti for his birthday, but just makes a mess in the kitchen.
    • Another episode about the horse's birthday has all the kids forget to get him a present.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three orphans. Olivia was the popular blonde, Sabrina was the Brainy Brunette, and Ethan was the more cerebral redhead.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor, poor Ethan. He was often used as the butt of jokes in earlier seasons, though the introduction of Goober seemed to make him the target of such comedy less.
  • Cast Incest: A disturbing example. In 2020, BoJack Horseman accidentally admitted to sleeping with former co-star Sarah Lynn on live television. Though she was allegedly an adult when the encounter took place, the fact that Sarah Lynn was six when the pair met and played Horseman's pre-pubescent daughter adds an undeniable moral ambiguity on the situation.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Ethan: "Yowza, yowza, bo-bowza!"
    • Sabrina: "That's too much, man!"
    • Mad Libs Catchphrase: Horse's was the stock phrase "I've heard of (x), but this is ridiculous!"
  • Christmas Episode: Nine Christmas episodes, one for each season the show was on air.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: As Season 6 reveals, Olivia's birth mother is alive and abandoned her due to being a drug addict and actually tries to take her back after getting clean. Unfortunately, she relapses.
  • Drop-In Character: Goober, whose purpose merely seemed to be serving as the new Butt-Monkey once Ethan's character got more fleshed out.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Horseman's character's name was literally just Horse.
  • Duelling Shows: With Mr. Peanutbutter's House, a show with a similar premise that started running on a rival network shortly after Horsin' Around came to prominence.
  • Egg Sitting: In one episode, Olivia has to take care of an egg.
  • Expository Theme Tune: See the page quote.
  • Expy: Ethan was clearly based on Alex P. Keaton, an unusually young hardline conservative.
  • Former Child Star: While Joelle Clark and Bradley Hitler-Smith grew up relatively normal after the end of Horsin Around (Clark moved to the UK and went into theatre acting, while Bradley retired from show business and opened up a hardware store) the tragic case of Sarah Lynn is all too well-known. Despite successfully moving into a music career, Sarah Lynns life was plagued with reports of drug and alcohol abuse, culminating in her fatal overdose on the same night as her Oscar award for The Nazi Who Played Yahtzee was announced. This trope has only gotten more tragic after her former co-star Horseman's involvement in her death was revealed in 2020.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: A mild example of this with precocious Sabrina (Smart) and feminine Olivia (pretty), although this plotline was more or less scrapped once Olivia was Demoted to Extra.
  • Happily Adopted: Olivia, Ethan, and Sabrina upon being adopted by the Horse, who — despite a few misunderstandings — genuinely tries to be a good dad.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: The three kids are orphans and depicted as very lovable, especially the cute little Sabrina.
  • Interspecies Adoption: It's the whole premise of the show, as three human children are adopted by a horse.
  • No Name Given: For some strange reason, Horseman's character was never given an actual name. He was only ever referred to as "the Horse".
  • Orphanage of Fear: Downplayed (as it is a sitcom) but the orphans never celebrated Christmas prior to living with the Horse. There are also scattered references to Sabrina and the others being forced to share all their belongings in order to get by.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: A few episodes delved into the orphans missing their birth parents. In "Sabrina's Christmas Wish," Sabrina gets upset that Santa can't bring back her parents for Christmas, and in a later episode she tries to use DNA testing to locate her parents. In a two-part episode, Olivia meets her birth mother and wants to live with her, but her mom ends up relapsing, leaving Olivia to hitchhike a ride home.
  • Orphaned Series: Fitting the trope name, the would-be sequel Ethan Around was well in production before Horseman reportedly ran out on the project. Neither star has commented on the matter since.
  • Orwellian Retcon: What the new Around version of the series will be, with all mentions of The Horse removed. The network had earlier done this with The Cosby Show, which was re-released in even more heavily edited form as The Show.
  • Out of Focus: Even though they were never dropped, both Olivia and Ethan got increasingly less focus as the series went on, due to the popularity of Sabrina during the later years.
  • Phrase Catcher: Goober's was "Go home, Goober," said whenever he was annoying the cast.
  • Pop-Culture Pun Episode Title: Season 2, Episode 12 is titled "I'm Ready For My Close-Up, Mr. Dementia" as a pun on the Signature Line from Sunset Boulevard.
  • Pun-Based Title: The show title, obviously. There's also the episode "Goober Goes Home" in which Goober plays softball (home in this context referring to home plate).
  • Santa's Existence Clause: In the Christmas special, Horse tries to get Sabrina to believe in Santa Claus, telling her that he'll bring her anything she wants. Unfortunately, what Sabrina wants is her dead parents back. Horse struggles to let her down easily without destroying her belief in Christmas. On Christmas morning, Sabrina finds a letter under the tree supposedly written by her parents, but this isn't enough for her. After she storms off, Horse is forced to tell her that Santa isn't real, but what Santa represents is still something worth believing in. At the end of the episode, Horse reveals that he didn't write the letter and neither did the other kids. The special ends with a familiar jolly laugh.
  • Seasonal Rot: Depends. Many fans hold strong opinions as to whether the earlier seasons (directed by now-beloved Herb Kazzaz) or the later ones (by Danny Bananas) were of a better quality.
  • Shower of Awkward: In one fairly creepy scene, the Horse walked in on Olivia while she was in the shower.
  • Special Guest: Several, including Cindy Crawfish, Mr. T, ALF and the cast of Stomp.
  • Spiritual Successor: Most people consider Mr. Peanutbutter's House one for Horsin' Around. It helps that Mr. Peanutbutter and Horseman appear to be close in real life.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: For such a lighthearted show, it ends with one of these, where Horse dies and child services takes away the children.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: The Creepy Cute neighbor kid, Goober, who appeared to spent more time at the Horse's house than his own.
  • Title Drop: Done in the last line of the pilot, and then semi-regularly ever since (to the point of nearly being a Running Gag).
  • Troubled Production: The happy family-friendly show was apparently not so happy behind the scenes, especially if the allegations hat came to light in Horseman's disastrous 2020 interview are to be believed. Even before that, the downfall of the show's original showrunner, Herb Kazazz, is well documented.
  • Very Special Episode: A few, as was natural for sitcoms of the time. Season 2 has "I'm Ready For My Close-Up, Mr. Dementia" in which Ethan befriends an elderly man with dementia. In other episodes, Sabrina befriends a black girl her age, and Olivia goes to a frat party and struggles with peer pressure to drink alcohol.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Apparently, Mr. Peanutbutter of Mr. Peanutbutter's House was interested in having a crossover episode with Horsin' Around. However the show ran its course before the idea could come to fruition.
    • Herb Kazzaz wanted a treasure hunt episode, but the network rejected it as too "edgy."
    • One episode was going to be about Sabrina sneaking into the horse's office through his suitcase, but Sarah Lynn was sick and had to leave set, so the scenes were rewritten to be about her not visiting his office.