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Recap / Bojack Horseman S 1 E 01 The BoJack Horseman Story, Chapter One

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Also known as: Pilot.

Written by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Directed by: Joel Moser

Bojack Horseman, a former TV show star is being interviewed for The Charlie Rose Show. A brief introduction made by the interviewer and host, Charlie Rose, details Bojack's career, especially his work on the Full House-esque Sitcom Horsin' Around, dismissed by critics as a Cliché Storm but beloved by audiences in The '90s. Bojack finally arrives at the studio late, drunk and having parked in a handicap space, which greatly upsets Charlie. As the meeting proceeds, Charlie tries to keep the questions grounded while Bojack can barely make a coherent answer:

Charlie: To what do you attribute the show's wide appeal?
Bojack: Charlie, listen, you know, I know that it's very hip these days to shit all over Horsin' Around, but at the time, I can tell you—-Is it okay to say "shit"?
Charlie: Please don't.
Bojack: 'Cause I I think the show's actually pretty solid for what it is. It's not Ibsen, sure, but look, for a lot of people, life is just one long, hard kick in the urethra, and sometimes when you get home from a long day of getting kicked in the urethra, you just want to watch a show about good, likable people who love each other, where, you know, no matter what happens, at the end of 30 minutes, everything's gonna turn out okay. You know, because in real life—-Did I already say the thing about the urethra?
Charlie: Well, let's talk about real life. What have you been doing since the show's cancellation?
Bojack: That's a great question, Charlie. I, uh, uh, I, Um....
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Bojack has been given a year and a half to write a tell-all memoir, but so far all he's done is spend his advance. He spends his days sitting around the house, watching old episode of Horsin' Around with his stoner roommate Todd and avoiding his agent/on-off girlfriend Princess Carolyn's phone calls. His publisher, Pinky Penguin, gets so fed up by Bojack's procrastination that he decides to hire a ghostwriter (Diane Nguyen) for him.

Intimidated by the prospect of meeting Diane and having her see him for what he really is, he puts that off, too, until Todd throws a party at his place and invites Diane. The kicker? She's dating Bojack's rival, Mr. Peanutbutter. This...does not go over well.


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"The BoJack Horseman Story, Chapter One" contains examples of:

  • Bait-and-Switch
    • In one scene, Bojack thinks that he's dying, only for Todd to reassure him that he isn't. Cut to him flatlining, and the doctors saying that they did everything that they could. Only we see his TV children waiting outside heartbroken, and it's revealed that this is just the Horsin' Around Grand Finale, which Bojack is watching in the hospital.
    • Earlier, Todd is giving Bojack a pep talk as the latter is making himself a smoothie. He cuts Todd off by turning his blender on, presumably to drown him out, but a cut to Todd reveals that he was just patiently waiting for Bojack to finish blending to keep talking.
  • Big Eater: BoJack, who finishes off nine baskets of bread in a sitting, and later eats an entire pizza without noticing it.
  • Black Comedy: The finale of Horsin' Around, with the Horse dying and the kids (now grown adults) being taken away by Social Services, is purely this. BoJack lampshades it:
    BoJack: We might have gone too dark on that series finale.
  • The Cartel: Todd is shown to have been caught on the wrong side of a Mexican drug cartel, which is what leads him to propose throwing a party (it's the only way he can make it up to the cartel).
  • Catchphrase: Mr. Peanutbutter's "What is this, a crossover episode?" Bojack is very, very sick of it.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Princess Carolyn alludes to the time that she caught Bojack masturbating to old pictures of himself. He insists that he was masturbating to what it represented.
  • Cutaway Gag: A rarity for this show (chalk it up to Early Installment Weirdness). The episode even features not one, but two cutaway gags within a first cutaway.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Princess Carolyn, absolutely. Also goes with Cats Are Snarkers. BoJack as well, in a more aggressive, condescending and weary way.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: "But do you get it, though? Because "nay" means no, but it's also a thing that horses say. It works on every level!"
  • Double Think: During her Establishing Character Moments in the episode, Princess Carolyn spouts two different opinions about Bojack:
    • As his agent, she believes he's still a profitable star who's just misunderstood and is willing to play along bits of the Yes-Man when talking to Bojack herself.
    • As his ex-girlfriend, she's a first-hand witness to how screwed, decayed and insufferable the former sitcom star is and doesn't have a high opinion of him.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In general, the first episode is a lot more lighthearted than the pitch-black comedy the show would eventually become. This is partially why the initially critical response initially wrote it off as just another Family Guy wannabe.
    • For one thing, there's an abundance of cutaway gags, something that would quickly be phased out in the middle of the first season.
    • Bojack and Princess Carolyn are still dating. They break up halfway through the season and it's only occasionally alluded to in future episodes to emphasize their growing isolation from one another.
    • Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane are not part of the main group yet, with the former making a brief appearance during Bojack and Princess Carolyn's first of many break-ups and at the end when he attends the party at Bojack's and reveals himself to be Diane's boyfriend; and the latter appearing near the end of the episode.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Everyone of the main cast (and even some of the recurring characters) get this:
    • Bojack's first actions on screen after being announced on The Charlie Rose Show, as established above, pretty much tell you all you need to know about him. To elaborate, he enters the studio drunk and not giving a shit, reflecting his failure stance; then, begins talking about the show only to come around back to him, showing his narcissism and finally procedes to try to pretend he's doing a good job at the interview, showing his insecurities and need for acceptance. Finally, when Charlie asks him what has he been doing since the show ended, Bojack fails to come up with an answer, proving that he's stuck in his past and hasn't moved forward, and as the series progresses, how much is he at a loss of how to do it.
    • Princess Carolyn's first onscreen appearance is on a Flashback, wanting to break with Bojack while he's completely not paying attention, portraying them as incompatible, with Princess Carolyn putting in most of the work, showing her as a pretty devoted, but uncorresponded romantic partner. Later, when they do break up, Princess Carolyn call him in a friendly tone as his agent, despite the rude treatment Bojack shove her way, showing her as professional and pragmatic. Then, it turns out Bojack's one of her less remunerative clients, again confusing love with work.
    • Diane's first onscreen apparance is almost unstated, with her coming out behind Bojack during the party, showing her as ''different'' to the rest of Hollywood. The distance and brief talk between her and Bojack show them becoming pretty intimate with each other, with Bojack being able to open up a little. Then we discover that she's Mr. Peanutbutter's girlfriend, highlighting her odd choice of men and becoming the unobtainable for Bojack. Yet, despite hearing Bojack insult Mr. Peanutbutter, she never once calls him out, proving her to be very patient. Plus, she Wrote the Book about Secretariat, Bojack's childhood hero.
    • Mr. Peanutbutter doesn't have many appearances in this episode, but enough to to get shades of his character: He interrupts Bojack and Princess Carolyn's breakup by saluting them and then, trying to bond with Bojack and failing because of the latter's despise of the former, while remaining a friendly figure. Then, we find out that he starred in a similar Sitcom at the same time and with the same premise as Bojack, despite looking younger. And he's Diane's boyfriend. Talk about Opposites Attract.
    • Todd doesn't do much besides hanging around Bojack's house and mooching off, yet has a high opinion of Bojack and clearly loves him, despite Bojack's dismissal of him. He seems perfectly content with who he is, while being the butt of the joke at every turn.
    • Lenny Turtletaub first appears in the restaurant where Princess Carolyn and Bojack are dining with two women, as his status as a top producer becomes evident and his attitude of showing off his wealth. Princess Carolyn mentions him, as they know each other.
  • Establishing Series Moment: Bojack walking into an interview drunk, while giving barely coherent excuses and embarrasing himself by proving to be a sad sack and mean washout, much to Charlie Rose's discomfort? Funny, disturbing, pathetic, cringe-worthy and quite sad, once you get past the humor and absurdity of the scene. Quite fitting for the first scene of this series.
  • Faux Horrific: Bojack has this reaction when he discovers his ghostwriter, Diane and his rival, Mr. Peanutbutter, are dating.
  • Gilligan Cut: One of the darkest ever done. Just as Todd is trying to reassure BoJack that he's not going to die, the scene cuts to BoJack apparently spazzing and dying in a hospital bed, as the doctors proceed to go outside to tell the familiars. Then, see Bait-and-Switch above.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Well, panic attack, which would explain the effusiveness and the use of this trope. Bojack ends up suffering one when talking about the ghostwriter who'll write his memoirs, because of anxiety. He later suffers another when reminded of it while at the hospital.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Bojack claims that he never explicitly said that he "doesn't respect [Princess Carolyn] enough to have a baby with her". The flashback proves that he did say it in those exact words.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Once Bojack finds out Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter are dating, he starts asking them personal questions to wrap that idea around his head. To get a full glimpse of the questions asked, look below on Overly Long Gag.
  • Moment Killer: Mr. Peanutbutter walks into Elefante the minute Bojack and Princess Carolyn are breaking up. To make matters worse, he doesn't even realize it and ends up chatting with the cat while Bojack (briefly) sulks uncomfortably.
  • Overly Long Gag: BoJack after discovering that Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter are dating.
    Bojack: You two are dating?
    Mr. Peanutbutter: Yeah!
    Bojack: (to Diane) You're dating him?
    Diane: Yes.
    Bojack: This is your boyfriend.
    Mr. Peanutbutter: That is correct.
    Diane: Uh huh.
    Bojack: You (Diane) are going out with you (Mr. Peanutbutter).
    Diane: Uh huh.
    Bojack: But in a sexual way, not just as friends.
    Mr. Peanutbutter: That's right.
    Bojack: You have seen her naked.
    Mr. Peanutbutter: Many times, yes.
    Bojack: You are attracted to this (Mr. Peanutbutter).
    Diane: Yes.
    Bojack: This penis has been inside this vagina.
    Mr. Peanutbutter: Yep!
    Bojack: But in a sexual way?
    Mr. Peanutbutter: Oh yes!
    Bojack: Huh.
    • Followed immediately by another of BoJack puking cotton candy over his balcony for a good minute.
    • There's also a minor one, where Princess Caroline berates BoJack for not respecting her enough to have a baby with her. Cut to a scene where BoJack attempts to flee for thirty solid seconds after Caroline mentions a cute baby.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: BoJack and Princess Carolyn.
  • Ridiculous Procrastinator: BoJack has been given a year and a half to complete his book, and all he's done is spend the advance.
  • Show, Don't Tell: When Bojack and Princess Carolyn are breaking up, one of the reason she gives him for it is that he doesn't respect her enough to start a family. When he denies it, there's a Flashback Cut in which after Princess Carolyn mentions a passerby with a baby, Bojack does everything to crush that expectative short of saying he doesn't want to have any, at least until he outright says to a police officer within earshot of Carolyn, the mother and the baby.
  • The Stoner: Todd is introduced as this.
  • The Unpronounceable: Downplayed—"Nguyen" isn't that difficult to pronounce, as Mr. Peanutbutter demonstrates, but Bojack finds it challenging all the same.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: See Overly Long Gag above.
  • Younger Than They Look: One of the wishes BoJack asks for Todd to do after he dies when he thinks he's having a heart attack is for his epitaph to say he was born in 1975 rather than 1965. Todd is having none of it:
    Todd: No one is gonna believe that!
    BoJack: (visibly angry) Damn it, can't you respect a dying man's wish?

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