Netflix has now released the final season of BoJack Horseman. On Jan. 31, 2020, the story of the troubled-horse-turned-sitcom-actor came to a close. While the series finale was touching, nuanced, sad, and funny–like almost every episode of the show–one thing stuck out to us: the lack of the character of Hollyhock. [Spoiler alert for the Bojack Horseman series finale below].
Who is the ‘Bojack Horseman’ character Hollyhock, and why is she important?
Hollyhock (with the several last names) is Bojack Horseman’s half-sister. The actor who voices her is a comedian and actor named Aparna Nancherla.
When Hollyhock is first introduced to the series, she is soft-spoken but brave, a high-school-age horse who believes Bojack is her dad. However, DNA testing proves that in fact, they both share the same father. While Bojack is no role model, once he finds out Hollyhock is his little sister, he takes on the role of big brother as best he can. However, the series finale left us a little wanting in terms of Hollyhock’s storyline.
As we found out in the very final moments of season 6’s midpoint, Hollyhock learned about Bojack’s dark secret. It’s entirely possible–and understandable–that she simply doesn’t want to engage with Bojack Horseman anymore.
The finale of the Netflix animated series left many questions unanswered
But, we simply don’t know. Many recaps and reviews of the final episode don’t even mention Hollyhock. The AV Club lists her storyline as one of “plenty of things still on the table … left unresolved.” The review acknowledges that “plot threads like what Hollyhock said in her letter, unresolved fan theories like whether or not Sarah Lynn’s stepdad abused her, the lost hope of one last Vincent Adultman appearance,” never get tied up.
However, out of all of those topics, Hollyhock’s storyline was the most significant to the narrative of Bojack Horseman. She was a character who truly changed Bojack, and for the better. He wanted to be a good person for his younger half-sister.
How the cartoon dramedy deals with its own version of #MeToo and ‘cancel culture’
Bojack Horseman has always been a show that deals with topical, tricky issues. And the final season is no exception; season 6 takes on the idea of “cancel culture.” Over the course of the series, Bojack Horseman has done and said things that offend others, leading to brief periods of being “canceled.” However, it doesn’t really stick until these last few episodes. People in public glare at him, flip him off, and throw milkshakes at his windshield.
In the series finale, it seems that Bojack is finally facing consequences for his actions. He goes to prison, for example. But, instead of letting it ruin him, Bojack takes on the task of directing an inmate play–with gusto. He asks Princess Carolyn to find him agency representation once he gets out. Bojack Horseman is looking towards the future, a rare activity for the character. And, given the forgiving nature of Hollywoob (as it’s now called), it seems like Bojack will no doubt make it back on screen. (Even The Horny Unicorn is killing it)!
And maybe that’s the point the show is trying to make: the idea of cancel culture is kind of BS. (Even in the real-life Hollywood, mere months after #MeToo, Louis C.K. was back on tour, and Matt Lauer was rumored to come back to television, to name a few examples).
‘Bojack Horseman’ asks the question: what do we do with friends that make bad decisions?
Most of Bojack’s friends accept him back, too. Mr. Peanut Butter can never be mad at him (or anyone, apparently). Princess Carolyn rejects the idea that Bojack “wasted” her best years. Even Diane and Bojack Horseman have a heart-to-heart, and more or less come to terms in the final episode.
As Princess Carolyn explains, people have short memories. The public will move on quickly from your misdeeds, and maybe even your friends: but it might not be true for everyone you love. It appears that Hollyhock has canceled Bojack Horseman from her life.
Given that in the past, Hollyhock has trusted and looked up to Bojack Horseman, it’s easy to imagine how devastated she would be about her older half-brother’s dark secret.
Where was Bojack Horseman’s sister in the finale episode of season 6?
We supposed that we can assume Hollyhock’s letter was a sort of good-bye to Bojack. Although we never hear or see a word of it, we do watch Bojack Horseman’s reaction. He walks into a college frat house, sits on the couch in a stupor, and then, after months of sobriety: he opens a beer.
Considering Bojack had been successfully clean for a long time, the news in the letter would have had to be heart-wrenching enough for him to feel like he needed to start drinking again.
Still, it’s somewhat of a missed opportunity not to see Hollyhock’s perspective on Bojack’s allegations (as well as his public apology). In the final season, we got to see the world from the point of view of Princess Carolyn, Diane, and other characters. But we only saw Hollyhock through the eyes of Bojack.
Maybe, at the time that the series ended, Hollyhock just needed some space. Perhaps in the world of Bojack Horseman, the two half-siblings will eventually come to terms with each other and re-establish a relationship.
The character of Bojack Horseman and how the concept of the anti-hero played out among the six seasons
This is not to say that just because Bojack Horseman is the show’s protagonist, we have to feel bad for him. He is in no way obligated to Hollyhock’s friendship.
But what’s so incredible about this show is the way it presents a sort of Hollywood, horse version of an anti-hero. Bojack messes up a lot. While he’s sympathetic for many reasons (his painful childhood, his addiction, the disease that is fame), there are many points in the series where he is simply wrong. Bojack Horseman is mean, abusive, and behaves terribly. The nature of television, and storytelling as a whole, is that we identify, and therefore empathize with the main character. But Bojack Horseman shouldn’t be the only target of our empathy.
It’s totally reasonable if Hollyhock never wants to speak to Bojack again. It would also be understandable if she takes some time, and reaches out when she’s ready. Whatever Hollyhock’s decision, we wish Bojack Horseman would have let us see it. Such a loveable and opinionated character deserves to have a voice in the series finale.
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