I’m jumping ahead a bit in terms of episode reviews, but I recently saw this new episode, and it may be one of my favorites this season.
“Fledgling Day” is another version of Mother’s Day and like most holidays, it takes over in this episode. Parent birds celebrate by spitting into their children’s mouths, just like real birds. Bertie is spending the day with her mom, which makes her nervous. She and her mom aren’t super close, so Bertie plans it all out. They’re going for dinner and getting their nails done. Bertie is anxious about what they’ll talk about and if they’ll have enough to say.
She decides that they’ll bond over a weird neighbor that Bertie’s mom, Anna, can’t stand.
Because this is television, and perhaps because art imitates life, all of Bertie’s plans and conversation topics fall flat. Dinner is awkward as they watch a close mother and daughter act cutesy together. The mother and daughter are ducks, of course. It turns out that the annoying neighbor and her mom are friends now. All attempts at conversation turn into a puddle of awkward. Bertie’s mom thinks that Bertie should have her own bakery by now and not work under someone. Any attempt Bertie makes to show her mom Winter’s pastries in the shop that Bertie came up with the ideas for fails. it doesn’t help that Bertie considers Winter a mother figure. Anna keeps making passive aggressive remarks about how Bertie could do better. Top it off, the nail place is actually a spa.
Luckily, Bertie and her mom start to bond at the spa. This sort of reminds me of the Gilmore Girls episode where Lorelai and her mother, Emily, go to the spa and bond reluctantly.
I like how in this case, they bond after they stop trying to make conversation. It feels like that’s how it always happens in real life too. They let their guards down as they chill in the spa and enjoy the a relaxing experience together. Then, when one of the women asks if Bertie is having kids, Bertie tells her mom that she doesn’t want kids. Bertie’s mom, Anna, bursts into tears, but not for the reason you expect.
Anna cries because she’s happy that her daughter knows what she wants in life. She confides that her ex invited her for dinner and that she isn’t happy with Bertie’s dad or the life she’s in now. It was nice that Anna was chill with Bertie not wanting kids. I wonder if Anna saw her daughter sand saw her own potential and puts some of her hopes for herself onto Bertie. She wants Bertie to do her best and doesn’t want Bertie to feel like she’s living under someone else’s shadow because she feels stuck herself. She also feels like her husband doesn’t make her feel special and their married life is kind of dull, at least lately.
Maybe that’s why she was so hard on Bertie earlier, she wanted her daughter to succeed. I don’t think it was right for her to be so harsh on Bertie, but I’m glad she seemed to come to realize she needed to love her daughter where she is now. In this case, Anna’s former flame is a bit, over the top, and Bertie spits into her mom’s mouth. So, they do the fledgling day tradition, but this time, a daughter cares for her mother. I don’t know if Anna’s marriage is going to improve or not, they kind of kept that vague, but she did go back to Bertie’s dad in the end. I hope they are able to work it out. I wouldn’t mind seeing Anna more. She was hurt earlier when Bertie said her mentor Winter was a mother-figure, but I feel like she needed to hear that so that she could realize her daughter needs her.
Berties mom tried their best, but doesn’t always understand her and why she acts as how she does. Bertie’s mom wasn’t there for her when she was younger, but it seems like maybe she could get better. It seems like they are starting to understand each other more.
The episode was also pretty cool about nudity. The birds at the nude spa are blurred out (probably because of regulations on Adult Swim’s end), and the space scene definitely includes nude characters. I like how the show is pretty body positive. Body image isn’t a storyline and no one makes comments on each other’s bodies. People exist as they are in different body types. It is nice to see, and watch women encouraging each other, like when Bertie encouraged her mom to be comfortable in her skin at the spa.
I also liked how Anna supported Bertie when Bertie said that she didn’t want kids. I’m not sure I want kids myself, and I appreciate that Tuca and Bertie shows a couple (Bertie and Speckle) who are happy without kids.
For our B plot, we learned in the last episode Speckle was laid off from his job as architect (after he made a big scene at work), and now he has no clue what to do with his life. Speckle also doesn’t really know who he is outside of architecture, so he is having a crisis. The show is pretty over the top over Speckle getting fired/quitting the job, and I was honestly surprised when it happened. Now he has to rebuild and start over.
Speckle definitely overreacted or at least reacted poorly (although the people that he worked with were terrible, greedy people). If it wasn’t a comedy, I’m not sure how we’d feel about this scene, but I can relate to having to start over and figure out what the next step in your life is. I wish we’d gotten some self-reflection on his end, but hopefully we will get that later. I really hope we get more Speckle screen time, because his character is obviously going through a lot. He needs time to learn that he doesn’t need to always be the perfect/good guy, and he also needs to get out of denial and confide in Bertie about how he’s feeling.
Speckle has been having a crisis throughout the entire season, but I’m not sure Tuca is the best one to help him. In this episode, Tuca decides to teach him how to be lazy. She tell him to wear messy clothes, lay around and eat chips, and pressures him to spend money on a bunch of hobbies. At first, this sounds pretty harmless. Speckle buys a skateboard, a book to learn Spanish, a guitar, and a skateboard. All of this sounds like fun. Maybe he can enjoy a new hobby so that he doesn’t define himself on his job alone. And maybe he can find a new job or a way of approaching work that excites him.
I wouldn’t mind trying a new hobby myself, so I’m excited for Speckle, but then Tuca tells him that he should never try any of the hobbies he buys! According to Tuca, this is part of the process, spending a ton of money on hobbies you never try. Speckle is sad that Tuca won’t even let him play guitar. I’m getting disappointed with how Tuca keeps dunking on Speckle. Let the man enjoy his guitar. In the end, he goes to play guitar in town and sings Spanish on a skateboard. It was pretty funny to watch, and Speckle is pretty talented even if the people around him disagree. Tuca seems happy for him in the end though. I feel like Speckle and Tuca are friends that sort of mess with each other. Speckle is definitely going through a hard time. Tuca doesn’t really get how to support him, but she is trying.
Overall, I enjoyed this episode. I might review some older episodes, but I’m not sure if I will or not yet. I’ll definitely look at the season 3 finale that premiered. Tuca and Bertie is definitely an unusual show. It has absurd humor and the characters are totally over the top, but underneath all of that, and perhaps within the chaos, there is a heart. I love watching these characters and their relationships, and I’m excited to see what happens next.
Have you seen this episode of Tuca and Bertie? What do you think of this season so far? Let me know down in the comments below!
In this episode, we pick up where we left off where Tuca and Bertie adjusting to the events of the previous episode. Tuca talks to Bertie about how she and Figgy have made some rules about his drinking. No home-brewing–it is gross apparently. Figgy follows up with one rule of his own–don’t tell him to stop drinking. Tuca is concerned, but she is excited about their next date.
Side note: Tuca and Figgy have this conversation when they went hunting. Bertie is surprised at what they are doing, but hunting seems like a popular activity in this world. In the Tuca and Bertie universe, hunting is essentially paintball game between two teams. No one dies, and all animals are safe. One paintball team just happens to include a deer. This is sounds more fun than actual hunting. Tuca can also climb up Figgy’s branches to get a better shot. I have no idea how the writers come up with these things.
Their date goes surprisingly well. Figgy doesn’t drink all afternoon, despite an offer of free wine, and it isn’t until dinner that he tries a drink that the waiter promotes as intellectual and special. The drink fits Figgy’s aesthetic, and Tuca says he can have a drink this time. She herself could never have just one drink without going overboard, but Figgy does okay. He has several drinks, but he doesn’t lose control or act differently. He and Tuca have fun together for the rest of the date, and she tells Bertie that it went well.
Bertie’s Self Perception and Her Snake
Meanwhile, Bertie is anxious about her new job. I’m still a bit confused about what is going on with Bertie. Did she quit her old job? There was no mention of her quitting before, but I assume she must have quit. There is no way she can hold a day job and go to the bakery during the day. She probably quit her old job offscreen when she decided to start her own bakery.
Bertie’s boss, Winter Garcia, wants her to present an idea to her for a new desert. Bertie spends all night racking her brain for ideas to lofi music, much to Speckle’s concern. We even get a clip of Bertie sitting at her desk by the windows jotting down ideas while lofi music plays. There is a cat at the window. I love the little reference there.
Also, someone needs to make a playlist with Bertie at the window. The writers are begging us to notice the lofi creation opportunity. If no one does, I’m about to seriously consider it. This series is starting to remind me of BoJack Horseman with all the references and gags, and I love it. I also like how this show features fairly relatable characters and talks about normal life stuff. If this show keeps going in this direction, it will be good.
This episode dives deeper into Bertie’s psyche and how her insecurities come to light throughout the day. She is frustrated with how she is viewed by other people. On the bus, people see her as cute and fairly helpless. Strangers see her as a pushover, as a man starts talking to her on the bus when she wants to be left alone and a woman hands her baby to Bertie to watch. Even when the man is clearly annoying her and the baby throws up on Bertie’s work clothes, no one cares.
Instead, these strangers feel entitled to her attention and her help, and neither of them even asked her before barging into her space.
The mom’s excuse is that she feels like she as a mom deserves a break, and she sees Bertie as a temporary caregiver. She thinks that her baby is everyone else’s job to care for as well as hers. Her child is her (and the father/her partner, or anyone who is raising the child with’s responsibility) alone. The man feels like he is interesting enough to deserve a woman’s attention. Bertie tries to defend herself and tell these people to leave her alone, but no one listens.
When she presents a her idea for Bug Bundt cakes, her boss isn’t impressed. The Bug Bunt cakes are super cute–all the bugs have different personalities and color schemes. (I want the recipe now.) But Winter finds them boring.
Why? The only reason I can think of why she’d disapprove is that bugs aren’t necessarily appetizing, but that’s not even valid. Bertie and Winter are both birds–they eat bugs, so the cakes should look delicious. Winter does approve Bertie’s male coworker’s lame idea–triangle shaped cookies.
It hurts when Bertie’s ideas are not chosen and when her boss refuses to take her seriously. Her boss sees her is the same way that the people on the bus see her. Winter looks at Bertie’s appearance, and she doesn’t listen to her ideas. For Bertie’ her self-image and confidence is determined by her physical appearance and how people view her. People see her as cute and timid, and thus, easy to trample all over. And Bertie has to battle people’s perceptions of her before she even begins to speak. Then, once she acts shy and like a people pleaser and confirms their biases, people treat her that way.
Bertie longs for a world where people will respect her and listen to her, and earning that respect isn’t easy.
Of course, this show has to include some wacky shenanigan to address Bertie’s appearance, so Bertie is eaten by a snake. When she is inside the snake, she can go about her day normally, but her appearance is hidden, and she has a little snake sitting at her feet that occasionally demands her attention.
Her doctor tells her that she will have to wait, and in a few days the snake will poop her out.
Bertie is initially terrified about what her boss will think, because apparently being swallowed by a snake is not contagious or harmful to those around you. So, she has to go to work, even if she’s looking a little green.
After, Tuca compliments Bertie and says that she looks great, and Bertie decides to embrace the snake. After all, people will see her differently now. They won’t see the cute, shy bird that they normally see when they look at her. This predicament could be life changing.
Bertie gets on the bus and everyone’s perception of her is altered. The talkative guy on the bus won’t sit anywhere near her, and the woman with a baby stays away. Bertie even stands up for herself and gets the talkative guy to leave another poor, unsuspecting girl on the bus alone.
When she gets to work, she suggests a new idea: desert salads. Her boss loves the salad idea and compliments her. She goes home to Speckle and she feels more confident when they are together. No longer focused on how he perceives her, she can focus on enjoying herself–snake and all.
Meanwhile, Tuca is insistent that she won’t get eaten by a snake during her date. Other people in town are getting eaten by snakes too, after a bunch of baby snakes were released from the bus. Figgy just listens to her and doesn’t comment. But when she is eaten at dinner, she tells Figgy not to say anything about it. Tuca decides to embrace the snake skin as well.
Not everyone will agree with me, but I liked the snake shenanigans, they were quite amusing to watch, and I love learning about all the different ailments in this universe. This world is quite unusual, and the interspecies relationships aren’t exactly clear. I like learning about this world that Hanawalt has created. As long as the shenanigans don’t impede character development, I don’t mind them. In this case, I felt like character development and worldbuilding worked together. I would like to see more of this.
When the snake poops Bertie out, the other snakes follow its lead, and Tuca is free as well.
Life returns to normal, as Bertie tries desperately to stay inside the snake before presenting her idea to her boss. The snake refuses to let her stay in the suit, and Bertie is left to resume her presentation in her own skin.
Bertie fails to impress her boss for a second time when she tries to promote her bundt cakes again. Her boss likes the idea of salad deserts. But, don’t salad deserts already exist? And if you replicated a salad exactly, what would you use for lettuce? The salad would likely be very thin. Would you use candy? That sounds kind of gross personally.
Winter says that you could sneak a desert salad to work to give the appearance that you are being healthy to your coworkers. Um, why would anyone do that? I mean, maybe? I feel like people would notice it was a desert, but maybe not. I once tried a desert that strongly resembled grilled cheese, so I guess I get the appeal–kind of. Bertie’s idea is still better, but it doesn’t matter because she works for someone and doesn’t have her own business where she can make the rules.
She goes back to being her normal self, and she learns that her appearance does impact how people view her. After questioning whether or not it was the snake that made people take Bertie so seriously or if Bertie the confidence all along. Tuca says:
“It was the snake.”
Bertie doesn’t find confidence easily, nor do the biases people have of her change. This scene felt realistic, and although Bertie doesn’t get a perfect solution, she does have the support of her boyfriend and friends.
Bertie comes home and complains about her baking troubles to Speckle, and he says that she had a great idea and loves her as she is. Bertie feels better and lets hope her boss starts to listen to her ideas in the future.
Her boyfriend, Speckle is sweet as usual in this episode, but I am a bit worried about him. He mentioned a “predatory loan” at work, but he seems to be putting his own needs aside for Bertie’s. Hopefully, Speckle gets some screen time, and Bertie can be there to support him. Speckle always seems chaotic and silly, but I wonder if he uses this to cover up for anxiety sometimes, either anxiety about work or with just life in general. He definitely has more to him that what meets the eye.
Tuca and Figgy: The Aftermath
Tuca also faces reality when Figgy tells her to leave him alone after their date. He wants some time to himself after their date. Tuca is a bit worried and decides to check up on him, and when she does, she walks into a dark room. The color contrasts with the show’s bright and colored scenery. Dead leaves and bottles are scattered on the floor, and Figgy sits in a chair with his roots in a tub of alcohol.
I didn’t expect the end of this episode to hurt so much. Figgy doesn’t drink like Tuca did, at parties. He was waiting to be alone to drink.
I don’t quite know what will happen to them next. Tuca broke up with him, but I’m not sure if he’s going to remember that she told him. He was pretty out of it at the time. I do know that his storyline can’t end, not yet. Even if he and Tuca are done for good, I am way too invested for the writers to give up on his character now.
I’m also not sure Tuca has entirely processed why her relationship with Kara was so unhealthy either. She might stay in another unhealthy relationship all over again with Figgy. I really hope not. I want her to be happy: either with Figgy, someone new, or single.
Have you seen episode 3 yet? What did you think? Let me know down in the comments below.
Trigger Warning: this book discusses self-harm, suicide, depression, and alcoholism.
Features a hilarious and intriguing main character
Eleanor keeps her individuality while learning to love others and care for their needs and her own
Keeps the reader hooked, even in slower plotlines
Lovable side characters
Good message of love and human connectivity
Well written take on introverts, trauma, mental health (depression, alcoholism), and the effects of self-isolation
I didn’t see many cons
Makeover scene: the message seemed to promote spending money for looks
Overemphasis on social rituals
Over the summer, I read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I was looking at the book as an Easter gift my mom bought for me to read at the beach. I actually started reading before I went to the beach, which is surprising. I’m an English major, so usually after finals, the last thing I want to do is stare at paper for hours and absorb words. I usually feel hesitant to read again after finals, but the cover drew me in.
My copy of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine has an eye-catching bright blue and orange design, and it features our heroine with her arms crossed over her. She’s almost insisting to us that she is completely fine after all. I read the back and was intrigued too. What sort of character is this? Then I read that Reese Witherspoon recommended this book, so I was encouraged. I have never read a Reese Witherspoon-approved novel before, but I trust her taste. I was right to do so.
Eleanor Oliphant is a nearly thirty-year-old woman who has never been particularly social. She works in an office, she does crossword puzzles, and she lives a rather boring life. But when I read her perspective, I found that I was not, for even a second, bored.
Getting inside Eleanor’s head was going through a funhouse, you never know what you will see next and everything you see comes out of nowhere and is intensely amusing. I hardly put the book down. Eleanor’s wit is often unintentional but fantastic.
She has no idea how funny and unusual she is because she grew up isolated from most people. After her mother went away, Eleanor was shuffled between foster homes. She never had stability or comfort and her abusive mother regularly calls her every single Wednesday to insult her. This mother is terrifying. Every phone call is emotionally abusive. I never met a woman like this and I never hope to. Eleanor did not have friends growing up either, so she is very unskilled regarding understanding and following social norms. For example, in one scene she goes to a dance. Eleanor is trying to learn how to dance and interact with people at a party, but she has never danced before.
She describes the world the way someone unfamiliar with it would. Rather than being cast off as an odd recluse or weirdo, her differences make her unique and lovable. Her perspective is honest and looks at human life in ways I haven’t considered before. The social rituals that we go through make little sense on the outside, and she can see the beauty and humor in them.
Eleanor’s keen sense of humor keeps the book interesting, even though there are often scenes where not much happens. The simple experience of shopping at a grocery store is wonderful and hilarious to witness. There was also very little filler. All the scenes, big and small, impact the plot. Part of Eleanor’s journey is her goal to meet a man she has seen once in person. To Eleanor, he is intellectually fascinating, extremely handsome, and a genuine person. He is also a semi-famous musician. She is ambitious, so I will give her that.
If we look at side characters, almost everyone is equally lovely. Eleanor runs into particular trouble when she and the IT guy, Raymond, end up saving a stranger’s life together. The unexpected event leads them on an adventure that neither expected.
Raymond is such a delightful character. He is not someone Eleanor would ever choose to associate with, his wardrobe consists of graphic tees and jogging shoes, which Eleanor remarks are primarily worn by people who never set foot in a gym. He spends most weekends playing video games until dawn, and he lacks table manners. Eleanor grew up learning to imitate high society and about the importance of putting a fork in the right place at all times. They make quite the pair.
The man that they save, Sammy, is also delightful. He is a kind man who introduces them to his family. The story is one of found families. Family is foraged from love, rather than blood. Though blood and love often coexist. Raymond’s mother also makes an appearance, and she is lovely.
The novel tells us that the meaning of life and reason to live is human connection. The relationships that Eleanor develops encourage and help her when she is miserable. I found this message to be both uplifting and a little lacking.
The show also mentions human rituals as a meaningful aspect of life, and Eleanor gushes over her makeover and gets her nails done. These rituals require a deal of wealth and material success; Eleanor can easily afford to get her hair, nails, and toes done because she can afford to drop over a hundred dollars. Her experiences at the hair and nail salons felt a little romanticized. I enjoy getting my nails done and my hair cut as much as the next person, but they do not feel like the meaningful rituals that connect me and create an intimacy between myself and the people who perform them for me. If these are are a primary way to happiness, only those with the money can afford these luxuries. The novel also ignores that the people who do her hairdo work to eat and provide for themselves. They may be tired after a long day and just want to go home. It is an act of service, I suppose, but it feels a little shallow. The nail stylist does not necessarily want to interact with Eleanor or help her look good or whatever. The novel shows that the people don’t always care, but Eleanor’s romanticization makes it feel like we should agree with her.
Outside of material good, the novel does mention the beauty of nature a little. There is one particular scene where Eleanor and Raymond are walking outdoors, and they look at the beauty of the sunset. That moment is fleeting but beautiful. A case for the good in nature rather than hair products is probably preferable if we seek a moral center.
The message seems to be a humanist one. Humanism is a philosophy that affirms human importance rather than the importance of the divine. The novel does not offer religion or spirituality as a way to find meaning, grace, or purpose. Eleanor doesn’t believe, nor does anyone else.
A humanist method of seeing the world can have problems. I loved this book, but it is also interesting to pay attention to the views it promotes. Otherwise, honestly, I don’t have a lot of critiques for this book. It was well written, and the humor and scenes of connection between people were beyond beautiful.
However, there are other aspects to life than human beings: the appreciation of nature, a desire to learn about religion, and care for animals. Eleanor does get a pet cat, so she does connect with animals and a being other than humans. The cat was adorable. I was a bit skeptical at a couple of parts of the novel, though. Human connection is also not so perfect and pure at times. The novel is not open to religion or other ideas as an aid or solution, so the cure relies on humans and our ability to care for each other.
I will say the novel felt a little idealistic at times. Her coworkers, for instance, who disliked her before, throw a party for her. It feels a bit off. It was nice to see the people she works with putting her needs before their prejudices. They saw that she was struggling and were empathetic, even if she was a little odd. We must look out and care for each other. W.H. Auden says that “we must love one another or die.” That is brutal, but it is the reality of both life and this book. Without love for each other, life is simply worth living.
Look, Eleanor has her hobbies. She does her crossword puzzles and her daily rituals. Eleanor completes many tasks that the CDC would recommend for a healthy life: seeing people at work five days a week, going outside on walks, reading regularly, eating regular meals, and a well-balanced diet. Eleanor is also a professional success; she is a good employee, she works hard, and keeps her job. She doesn’t take sick days, she returns back from the weekends with her stress forgotten; she never lets her personal life affect the job. She attended university, and she keeps her brain active with puzzles…I could go on. But even if she didn’t live with trauma and depression, I don’t think Eleanor would be happy and satified with this alone.
I think the point is that none of us should be. Gail Honeyman said of the book:
“Eleanor Oliphant isn’t me, or anyone I know [but] of course I’ve felt loneliness-everyone does.”
The novel addresses the loneliness inside us and that everyone needs somebody. We need others and we need to be there for others when they are around and when they are alive. After all, we don’t live forever. The novel reminds us of that. I think this novel could show life as absolutely perfect if not for the fact that it ends.
The sections about death were tragic. Eleanor has no hope for an afterlife or anything beyond. It is sad, but the novel shows that death is part of life for all of us. Eleanor accepts death as a fact of life and still celebrates all the joys of living. Eleanor Oliphant’s world is filled with life. There are people on the bus and friends all around, there are parties and dancing and going to coffee with friends–those moments make life worth living for Eleanor. Her friendships and interactions with others are well-written and funny. To get on a less morbid topic, let’s talk about makeovers.
One of Eleanor’s decisions to get her crush, the musician, to like her is to get a makeover. I rarely like makeover scenes in movies, because they usually start with a protagonist who is happy with their appearance and then changes so that a love interest finds them attractive and so they can fit in with the popular kids. Eleanor’s makeover also made it seem like she had to change to be accepted by her coworkers. She keeps her sense of humor, but why does she have to get a makeover? This feels like a Disney movie. Eleanor is an adult, she shouldn’t have to change her appearance, which was nice. She took care of her appearance, so it is not like she was careless and sloppy or anything.
I also wish she’d stayed in touch with Sammy, the man whose life she saved’s family more. I would have liked to see her and Laura become friends, it seemed like a no-brainer. To pair a person who is more focused on appearances with a friend who doesn’t care at all could be entertaining. It would have been nice to have two close friends. Both could learn from each other, and Laura seemed pretty chill from what we know about her. They could learn from each other and support each other; after all, they both knew Sammy.
Otherwise, I found the novel uplifting. The message is that when you feel down and lonely, spending time with others is of great benefit. Eleanor learns this and also builds a friendship with Raymond. She doesn’t have to do life alone. She has a friend, and she also starts going to a counselor. The positive portrayal of seeking help was nice. Sometimes you need help in a professional setting as well.
It was also nice to watch Eleanor remain true to herself. She still likes crossword puzzles and has her quirky sense of humor, and no one expects or demands her to change. She also learns to accept others for who they are and to reserve judgment before knowing someone.
I cannot say enough how much I loved Raymond and their relationship. He is incredibly sweet and caring. His outgoing dorkiness and kindness are a perfect match for her blunt and nerdy eccentricity.
When I first read the description, I was expecting a romance between Eleanor and the IT guy (Raymond) to be the main plot, and I was pleasantly surprised when it was not the case. So many stories show the socially isolated and damaged characters finding a love interest that shows them how to live life to the fullest. Realistically, it is probably Eleanor needs time to work on herself and then start dating someone. Unfortunately, this is rarely true in a ton of books I see.
Like those romance covers that talk about a “bad boy” with a troubled past who finds a woman to love, and then she fixes him, and everything is okay, that is stupid. Eleanor thinks finding a guy will help her and she chases the hottest one she can find, but he is a terrible person. He also doesn’t care about a stranger he’s never met. He is a selfish idiot. I don’t get why any other results could have occurred if we look at the situation realistically.
Confession: I have never read one of these bad-boy romance books, but I feel like I see them everywhere.
Honeyman’s decision to focus on Eleanor’s growth as a character is truly refreshing. There is a hint that something romantic might happen with them in the end, but it feels right. They have become friends first. Maybe dating could work out for them, maybe it wouldn’t, but the book gives us hope that their friendship will continue no matter what. She has a solid friendship and learns that isolation is not the answer.
Eleanor initially believes she is strong for being alone. She is independent, she doesn’t need anybody.
“Some people, weak people, fear solitude. What they fail to understand is that you don’t need anyone, you can take care of yourself.”
Is there a case that sometimes we need to be alone? Absolutely. Learning to enjoy quiet and solitude is an important life skill. It is a good thing to be able to spend a Friday night alone without plans and enjoy spending time by yourself. Friends sometimes have plans, and sometimes people are busy when you are free. You can learn from spending part of your day alone, but should we do this all the time? Absolutely not. After all, we do live in a community; life wasn’t meant to be lived alone. Humans are social creatures.
So, thinking of our need for others, I ask is Eleanor Completely Fine? The answer is no. No one is fine; nobody is perfectly happy alone. We all need alone time. Some need alone time more than others. That is why many introverts relate to this book; it is about being alone and how we like being alone, just not all the time. We all need other humans and to live in a community with each other. When we’re struggling, staying by ourselves isn’t always the answer.
It wasn’t the answer for Eleanor. Spending time with others gets us out of our heads, we can see how others live, how they experience life, and we can learn from them and care about them as they do for us. We need friends, and sometimes we need professional help to sort ourselves out.
Eleanor is a character who rejects using socially acceptable language. She is blunt and doesn’t think to stop and think before speaking. The word filter has probably never crossed her mind. Falsities are not Eleanor Oliphant, but she does tell one lie in particular. Eleanor is a woman with a giant vocabulary. Eleanor possesses extensive knowledge of words and language, but this one social norm cannot escape her, as it does for most of us. It is in conversation, under a burden of pain, that Eleanor grasps for one of the most overused expressions in the English language. When people ask how she is doing Eleanor Oliphant replies: “I am fine.”
To say this broke my heart would be an understatement. I want to reach out to Eleanor and, luckily, she has someone who does, and says to her. To quote Five Seconds of Summer, Eleanor, you are not fine; you’re really not fine at all, and that is okay. You don’t have to be, right now. You are not alone.
Have you read or heard of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or have you read any novels with an odd protagonist and a human-centered message? I have a feeling there are more Eleanors to come, and I’m curious to see what they look like. There is also a movie coming out, which I am both excited and nervous about. As always, let me know down in the comments below.
I feel like I’ve been watching a reality show for the past 6 years. Life is dramatic and outlandish. The news feels like something from a sci-fi movie or from a teen dystopia. Reality TV is unrealistic; it asks why any rational person would act or believe the things they do. I question the notion that people really want to know the truth when I see how certain reality tv actors are; they believe their story is correct, no matter how many times the rest of the cast proves that they are wrong. What people really want is a truth that benefits their self-interest. The answer to that question is that people are inherently irrational. Our irrationality has been with us long before the pandemic and long before the movies.
I’ve heard quite often that 2021 wasn’t the best year, though I wonder, when did we have a good year? Our world has always had irrational people and people have been satirizing life forever. The drama of the satire is pointing out the vices and flaws of society and the best satire, in my opinion, points out flaws that we can find not just in the higher-ups, but in ourselves. The best satire can call out the people who need to be called out, as well as ourselves and our complicity.
The movie Don’t Look Up begins when Ph.D. student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers a meteor in a telescope that will crash to Earth in six months. All human life will end when the meteor hits. This is guaranteed. She and her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), head to Washington DC to tell the President about this incoming doom. The midterm elections are coming soon, and let’s just say–this will not be good.
Are you hooked yet? For this review, I am going to talk about both reasons to watch Don’t Look Up and some reasons the movie might not be for you.
Reasons to Watch
Relevant Political Satire
Don’t Look Up takes place in America and addresses the current political climate using dark humor. Don’t Look Up portrays the press, tv news, and big tech companies as utterly selfish and shallow. Light and fluffy sells, and drama make a fascinating story as long as it does not personally hurt us or challenge the comfortable ideologies and lifestyles we have settled into. We want shallowness and to feel placated, and this film shies away from nothing. The movie criticizes our selfishness, and it doesn’t just blame one group of people. The US government, owners of corporations, and media are responsible for the most damage, and they are called out rightfully. However, as the film depicts, all of America is afflicted by ignorance and self-interest, not just the higher-ups.
The film’s president (played by Meryl Streep) is a self-centered politician who cares more about maintaining her position of power over public needs. Trump is never referenced outright, but she shares obvious similarities with him. The movie also jokes about how immoral politicians try to incorporate God, human values, and love in speeches all the while having affairs and lying out of self-interest. The film mixes exaggeration with realism well. For instance, the president wears a hat that says “Don’t Look Up” and stands behind a giant American flag. They also go to great lengths to downplay the numbers of the meteor. The president requests the scientists if she can tell the public the percentage that the meteor will hit the earth is 70% rather than nearly 100%. Lower numbers will not alarm the public before the midterm election. These jokes are based on Trump’s MAGA hat and his use of the phrase ‘” alternative facts.” It is one of those comedies where I didn’t laugh out loud a ton, but I appreciated the humor.
The movie idea existed before the pandemic, but it bears many similarities. The movie is meant to be a metaphor for climate change, and it feels relevant to both issues. In general, science is treated the same way about both issues.
2. Realistic Portrayal of Scientists and Human Nature
I read a few reviews online, and scientists have applauded this movie for its portrayal of their experiences. They share Randall and Kate’s frustration with the public, politicians, and media when they ignore, belittle, and undermine the research they have carefully compiled to present to them. Scientists try to tell people about climate change and vaccines, but their words are politicized, minimized, and altered in favor of answers that don’t disrupt or challenge their way of living. When a challenging but clear answer is in front of people, they take any opportunity to avoid it.
The movie also shows how people are intuitively self-seeking. Everyone is more focused on their image over the impending end of all life. We also see tech leaders claiming the values of science, to improve life for humans and all forms of life while ignoring real scientists.
The film also addresses human failures and accepts that some events are beyond our control. It also shows how power corrupts and we try to control the wrong things. The movie is also unapologetically tragic. Death is not romanticized and it is interesting watching what the characters choose to do on their final days.
3. Good Acting
Many of the characters represent ideologies, but they are people first. Kate and Randall are not perfect people, but I can empathize with them easily. They have been through the unthinkable. Meryl Streep plays an awful, self-serving president of the United States. Jonah Hill plays Jason Orlean, the president’s son: an annoying, shockingly accurate, and hilarious example of privilege and nepotism in politics.
Some of the celebrities feel like they are randomly thrown in the film for no reason, but they were all good. Ariana Grande plays a celebrity much like herself and she adds some much-needed comic relief. She makes fun of herself and the media coverage of her, which I found fantastic. Apparently, she ad-libbed some lines too. Timothee Chalamet ended up in a pretty unexpected role, and he surprisingly adds heart to a terrifying story.
4. Surprising Inclusion of a Christian Characterand a Positive Portrayal of Faith
I wasn’t sure how this movie would address religion, if at all, and I was surprised to find an Evangelical Christian character. Sure, they are not completely traditional, but the engagement was nice. Religion is respected by the main characters, even if they don’t agree. The movie primarily focuses on science and the importance of listening to and understanding the truth scientists discover about life, but Christianity does not always have to conflict with science. It was a small part, but I found it cool to see in a movie like this.
A Few Things to Note
These aren’t exactly cons, but if you’re considering watching this movie, it might be useful to be aware of these issues beforehand.
The film is rated R, so that comes with some things. Don’t Look Up could easily have earned a PG-13 rating if they took out the swearing and the bit of nudity. I do think an R rating makes sense for the catastrophe and satire. The movie explores political themes and social issues in a way that wouldn’t succeed as a family film. I wouldn’t recommend the movie to anyone other than older teens and adults for the following reasons.
Language: The film is rated R and it swears quite a bit. According to IMDB, the word “fuck” is used 42 times. Other swear words are also occasionally used. Much of the swearing takes place when the characters feel intense anger or frustration with their situation. While understandable in the context, the cursing did not do much for the film. Maybe we needed to be yelled at, but it is painful to watch. The message could have been addressed without as much language and it feels redundant at times during a big speech. If you don’t like a lot of swearing, the movie might not be enjoyable.
Nudity: the nudity isn’t graphic and it is very brief. The film includes back nudity and partial frontal nudity. Overall, I wouldn’t say that nudity is necessary to tell the story; it is kind of just thrown in there.
2. One-dimensional portrayal of people who disagree
The public was all oblivious and ignorant to the events of the world around them. Despite the threat of all human life, no one cared except the scientist characters. People only listened when the politicians and celebrities told them to care either in support of or against evidence that the meteor was going to kill them. People who support Trump-like politicians and their policies were utterly one-dimensional. That is to be expected in satire, of course. I do think if the film is trying to convince people of a message, it excludes some people. If this is something that bothers you, I wouldn’t recommend this movie. Most of the focus is on the higher-ups, and the public is merged into one. The movie requires us to know how to laugh at ourselves, and if you don’t mind satire, it shouldn’t be a problem.
I suppose this was the point, but for an event like this, there’s no way other countries would not get involved. There are brief snippets of scenes from other countries, but they don’t really land well. The snippets felt like something the film had to include instead of an attempt at diversity. I was disappointed that the movie did not address the world as a whole, especially since everyone is going to die. Seeing how foreign relations interact with each other and understanding the meteor could have been fascinating. The film is very concerned with the USA, but the message and criticism of political power and media can apply everywhere. The focus on the US isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The movie wanted to focus on satirizing America in particular, and specific satire is better than general. I just wish the rest of the world’s response was included a little more. The United States of America, thankfully, is not responsible for the entire world and it would have felt more real if they said that.
I enjoyed this movie. I wouldn’t call it a powerful piece that will stay with us forever, nor is it the best film I’ve seen this year. It was engaging, but not laugh-out-loud hilarious. The message was a good one, and It tried to mix satire and some inspiration, and it kind of works. I’m glad I watched it. I enjoyed watching actors I like and checking out a genre I don’t typically watch, and it is pretty good. Even with the few things I mentioned, I would recommend this movie and it is not 2+ hours I regret spending on Netflix.
I wouldn’t make it out to be more than it is. It can be enjoyed regardless of political viewpoint. The movie points out the importance of science and calls people out through comedy and slight exaggeration. If you appreciate dark comedy, you should enjoy this film. It is a satire, but it also was pretty heartwarming. The movie made me want to be more aware of the world around me and take steps to help, but it wasn’t something that will change the world. It also isn’t too cynical. Though the movie was sad, I didn’t feel worse about the world than I already do. We are entering a new year. There is time to do good and spread awareness and learn about climate change, injustice, poverty, and find ways to help others. Maybe I’m being idealistic, but the movie seems to inspire hope rather than anything. We can listen, we can learn, and we can do better. We can ask more of our leaders and ourselves.
Don’t Look Up is so similar to the political sphere, but it felt oddly comforting rather than distressing. The film never minimizes the horrors of what is happening to the audience. The humor balances well.
If you like any of the actors, I think you will like this film. The cast plays roles that fit them perfectly. Don’t LookUp is bleak but its satire of celebrities, politicians, and social media help distract us from the tragedy. I would recommend it if you’re in the mood for a dramatic film that addresses the age, we live in. I also found the movie a little long, it is a little less than two and a half hours, and it seemed longer than it needed to be. It is still worth watching. They drag at parts, but so does life. Back during COVID, I remember waiting all afternoon for an email from our college president detailing whether or not we would go home. Sometimes, even in movies, it’s good to show the slowness, the anxiety of waiting and not knowing. Also, the ending is good, so watch the whole thing.
Have you seen or heard of Don’t LookUp? What do you think? Let me know down in the comments below!
Check out my Spoiler Review!
Also, after you’ve watched the movie, check out my spoiler review! I’m going to be discussing criticisms that I didn’t mention here, including surprising things I enjoyed and analyzing the character development and the overall message.
Don’t Look Up. Three words create a giant controversy. If you watch even a few seconds of attention to the news, this is pretty obvious. I will start by saying this movie is satire, it is dangerously true to life. It is also hilarious and true and beautiful. I don’t typically watch movies about political satire, but after these past 2 years, I felt interested. I heard this movie addresses our modern age and includes some famous people and was like, I gotta watch that. You know, sometimes, it’s not that deep. I see Meryl Streep and Timothee Chalamet and I click.
Don’t Look Up begins when Kate Dibasky (Jennifer Lawrence), a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, discovers a comment that will hit the earth and destroy the world. She then must, along with her professor Randall Mindy (Leonardo Decaprio) inform the president of the United States.
The film has got a ton of celebrities: Meryl Street plays the self-interested president. Timothee Chalumet plays a young Evangelical hippie guy and Ariana Grande plays a famous singer nearly identical to herself.
I enjoyed this movie more than I thought. The film was written to address climate change and politics, but the themes of denial and politicization of a threat to human lives fit the pandemic pretty well too. That is partially why the movie is so big. Other than knowing that Don’t Look Down is a satire of American politics and features celebrities, I really didn’t know what to expect.
In this review, I’ll be talking about 5 main ideas I thought of watching this movie. I was pleasantly surprised by what the movie decided to cover. Some characters—Leonardo DiCaprio—are downright unlikeable at times, but somehow, I made it through, partially due to Jennifer Lawrence and Timothee Chalamet.
l. Leonardo DiCaprio is unlikable
It is very hard to like Randall Mindy ( Leonardo Decaprio). Randall is introduced as a camera-shy scientist who views life as a series of facts. We quickly learn, however, that the minute the awkward scientist gets recognition, he falls in with the crowd. He starts off insisting on science and I imagine he’s going to be the voice of reason.
But I, perhaps idealistically, turned out to be wrong about Mindy. Peter Isherwille, the (evil) tech guru understands him. Randall’s fatal flaw is that he is shy and insecure and wants people to like him. Unlike most of the population, he accepts the fact that his life will end in six months. To avoid that horrifying truth, he allows fame to distract him.
“I know what you are, you are a lifestyle idealist. You’re just thrown towards pleasure and away from pain like a field mouse.”
It also seems like Mindy has an anxiety disorder. He mentions that he takes Xanax and Zoloft. The audience isn’t told any specifics, but he gets visibly anxious before going on TV. Overall, medications (and alcohol) are tools that the characters use to numb the pain of the events happening to them. Randall shares his medications with Kate, which is clearly problematic, after they find out about the meteor.
Both characters pursue or at least accept momentary pleasure when it is offered to them, but DeCaprio is the one who annoyed me.
Kate takes medication and gets high with Yule, but she doesn’t harm anyone else.
Randall is a married man, and his wife cares for several teenage sons mostly by herself. One of his sons takes medication, but he is pretty oblivious about how to be a good father. He has responsibilities as a father, husband, and scientist, and he neglects them all.
The haircut is the start of his ruin. Before he goes on the news to talk about the meteor, the studio cuts Randall’s hair and shapes his beard. The news crew won’t listen what he is going to say, even if he is literally telling them the world will end soon, but they do want him to look hot. The media grooms him like a golden retriever and he falls into their trap so easily. Talk show reporter Brie Evantee (Kate Blanchett) flirts with Randall on set, and after a few interviews, he begins an affair with her as his wife struggles to raise their sons alone. In addition to getting with a reporter, Randall personally recieves almost no backlash for his behavior and he is just the pretty face. Randall is dubbed the hottest scientist by the media, and he rides safely in the limousine of privilege as the truth as society crumbles around him.
While the impending damage of the meteor is downplayed in interviews, and Randall is featured on Elmo, Kate is mocked and reduced to a meltdown meme. Randal is her teacher and he is supposed to be supporting her, but he leaves her in the dust. I wonder if the film was making a point about sexism in the media. Kate is horrified by the public’s attempts to downplay the imminent death of the world and she is honest and upset. Everyone should be upset. But the media portrays her as overly emotional and a joke. No one takes her seriously.
People don’t take Randall seriously, but he never suffers the amount of vitriol that Kate receives. Even when he finally breaks down and screams and swears at the public, no one judges him. In a traumatic situation like this, there is no one way to react or process, but Kate is the only one who is insulted for her grief.
In turn, Randall doesn’t protect Kate and slowly allows the media to take the narrative from him. Randall becomes a shallow, morally bankrupt version of his former self. He was once a man who loved science and facts. He saw life as a series of truths and put facts and honesty above all.
He then settles into an extremely shallow relationship with reporter Brie Evantee. From what we know about her, Bre was born into a wealthy family and has been taught to be very shallow. Brie never broaches a conversation topic below the surface. Her banter with her co-star Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry) is marketed as light and fun. They jump from death to celebrity drama with little care.
I almost felt bad for Bre at first but then she turned out to be a terrible person. She is the one to pursue him even though she knows he’s married. She is clearly capable of being blunt too. She is honest with Randall and his wife about the affair. She is capable of honesty on TV, but she only is honest when it can get her what she wants. Their relationship also mirrors Randall’s relationship with the press. He exchanges integrity for sex appeal and a shallow relationship with the media, where he occasionally spits out facts to an uninterested population.
Randall sucks for the affair. I was disappointed there wasn’t more of a downfall to his character. His wife loves him and takes care of their sons. She gets mad at him rightfully, but then she just forgives him–with the excuse that she cheated on him in college. I get that it is the end of the world, but this guy gets so much slack, and it annoys me when shows ignore the results of cheating. They just sort of blow it off with a joke. Instead, I wish she had genuinely forgiven him if she ever wanted to and that the cheating wasn’t trivialized.
I also hated how he let Kate get made fun of while he was a hero. He never apologizes to Kate. He also gets the best lines at the end and is still the good guy, but Kate has been nothing but kind, honest, and considerate. Kate deals with the worst of the press. She is the true star of this film, but this guy gets the closing lines. I get it, he had everything and lost it all. He also gets a great ending. At least Kate gets Timothee Calumet.
As much as I complain, I appreciate his character arch from honest scientist to a shallow famous face.
It is an eternal truth that power and influence corrupt. For that reason, I liked that Mindy was morally grey. The movie could have made the scientists always act with good intentions and exist as paragons of virtue. I’m glad they didn’t. It would feel too preachy.
Everyone is guilty of ignoring pain and seeking pleasure. No one is completely innocent and pure, even if they believe and say the right things. Our values don’t stop us from screwing up. We are all capable of committing the evils we claim to abhor.
2. Don’t Look Up Makes fun of current politics with wonderful accuracy
The president and her son felt like they were genuinely related. She feels like Donald Trump and he feels like one of Trump’s children. The hairstyle and clothing designers knew how to dress the actors for the parts. The nepotism feels so realistic, unfortunately and Jason Orlean is a spoiled brat and Jonah Hill plays that so well and I loved to hate him and president Orlean. The jokes are direct parallels to the real Trump presidency. There is a scene where Jason says his mother is a smoke show or something similar and that he would date her if she was not his mom. That reminds me of what Trump has said about Ivanka.
The scenes showing her supporters and her choice of the cabinet mirrored Trump. Her hat and flag match him to a T. The movie also shows how our media excuses the racist and sexist behavior of others. The old man the president chooses to fly into space makes racist remarks but the media excuses the things he said because he is from “a different time.” This is classic lampshading. No one is held to any moral standard, and the politicians just don’t care because they have power.
The politician’s ignorance of meteor don’t harm themselves, but their supporters. If the president of the United States is telling you that something is true, you should expect honesty. Especially it involves your health or the fact that something could kill you.
Near the beginning, Kate is charged $20 for snacks and water from a member of the staff, only to find out later that food in the White House is free. She wonders why he would scam her like that. Sometimes people do jerky things for kicks and it is so annoying. Political office and power allow humans to do unreasonable things, and I liked the ongoing conversation. In situations where people do bad things, sometimes we remember the simple stuff the most.
3. Engagement with Political Activism/Issues and shallownessof Media
The movie shows how the reporters, politicians, and everyone else preferred a shallow existence to one that recognizes the facts of life. We would rather pretend problems don’t exist and that we live in a perfect world. We’d rather pretend the news doesn’t apply to us and won’t affect us personally. The media we consume caters to our human desire for comfort, safety, and ignorance.
The scene with Ariana Grande still bugs me. She wanted to talk about her charity, saving the manatees, but the press only cares about her breakup. This is one time where a non-scientist wants to do something good for the environment, and no one lets her. She cares about the climate and help others become more aware of the problems around her, but what about Pete Davidson? The apathy of these people was heartbreaking.
Instead, people escape into her relationship drama. Her drama doesn’t affect their lives, but people like the escape into someone else’s false feelings rather than acknowledge their own. They want drama, as long as it doesn’t affect them, and a happy ending is always enjoyable, even if it is fake. It isn’t until she performs a song to look up that fans and the media listen. But by then, there is nothing else they can do.
4.The Film Mocks Big Tech and Its Flirtation with Science
Peter Isherwell plays a good villain, he acts with an awkward certainty that just feels like a powerful tech billionaire. He is supposed to parody Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and all those rich tech people. The dude is so obsessed with wealth. He saw a literal meteor that will kill all people and the first thing the man thinks of was to let it hit the earth and then mine it for gold.
He also uses science and causes like ending world hunger and restoration of biodiversity to justify taking a risk in pursuit of profit. His tech ads are promoted to help people, but they also are supposed to cater to our every desire and need. Science is really an excuse to cater to our individual needs and make money off those needs rather than improve the world around us. We become self-centered and dependent on our devices. We go to them when we are sad and want to be happy. Then they follow an algorithm and give us what we think we need. The tech company BASH argues that phones can predict all.
Technology is also described using religious language. Drones are mankind’s savior. “You’re gonna be a god in the sky,” he says. Technology is a new means of understanding the world. It is religion, it is science, it is philosophy. When he talks about his phone company, Peter says:
“This is evolution, the evolution of the human species.”
Is it? Is it really? Technology is idealized so much. It is supposed to solve all our problems and make our lives perfect apparently. This film laughs at that idea. The media spreads sparky, empty news. Phones distract people and make them happy when they should panic. Technology only serves to dissuade people, rather than encourage them to care about humanity. It is only when people let go of tech and focus on each other that they’re able to be real and have honest conversations. Tech paints a false promise of utopia, but that is wrong. Isherwell calls the age of tech the Golden Age, which was a time of prosperity in Greece, but the characters are their best when they are together, sitting down at a meal with no screens in sight.
“Isherwell calls the age of tech the Golden Age, which was a time of prosperity in Greece, but the characters are their best when they are together, sitting down at a meal with no screens in sight.”
I liked how he was wrong about Randall’s death. Technology can’t control and predict the world; data does not capture an entire person. He didn’t surrender to impulse and momentary pleasure and returned to his wife and sons. He brings his friends along. He chose to invest in the people around him. He didn’t die alone.
I do wonder what will happen next. The tech lord won and I’m not sure his new society will be a better one. Will the naked people be addicted to their phones for happiness? Will they stage a revolt? Hopefully, we never have to find out. Maybe they’ll all die, after all, the scientist guy is the type to start a war. I’m kind of hoping for a sequel.
5. Engagement with Evangelical Christianity
I’ve seen quite a few movies where characters are asked if they believe in God, but this movie portrays Christianity a lot more than many. Timothee Chalemet plays Yule, a young man who was raised by Evangelical parents. He grew up in the countryside and wears a camo baseball hat. He is one of my favorite characters.
Don’t Look Up portrays religion pretty satirically at first. The politicians invoke God and Jesus but only as a means to accomplish their political aims. Their level of pandering is so obvious and hilarious, and this sadly occurs in real life–to people of all groups. Politicians use language to make people think they care about interests greater than themselves. News flash–they don’t. The people who support the president parody Trump supporters. They are one-dimensional charicatures. In a satire, and the film aims to call out politicians. The film accomplishes its message, while stereotypes aren’t ideal, it fits the film’s purpose well. It feels more honest than offensive, and pandering by politicians should be called out way, way more than it currently is.
So, back to Timothee, his parents are Evangelical Christians and he disagrees with what they stand for and says he doesn’t like them. If we look at stereotypes, his parents are likely conservative Evangelical Christians. They likely voted for this president who claimed to support them and their values. He could easily have rejected the faith he grew up in as a nonsense but he doesn’t. He says he figured out how to believe in God in his own way, but it is somewhat unclear at first what he means. Yule is a young guy who is learning about life outside of the one he grew up in for the first time.
I liked how Yule skeptical of the meteor. He doesn’t believe in it initially because he hasn’t heard anything else from his environment, but he’s open to listening to Kate when she tells him the truth. He can listen to others with respect without their words threatening him.
We see Yule pray on the roof with Kate, and his faith feels learned, but genuine. He isn’t repeating a family prayer in a sense of desperation. His faith is real and his own. Is he a perfect person, of course not, but that’s what makes him a good character. For a movie about science that partly mocks Evangelical people, his character could have been a quirky stoner stereotype, but instead, the writes decided to create a Christian character with respect. I would argue he and Kate as well is a moral center to the film. While the people around him worry and are filled with fear, he is a calm presence.
At the end of the most, we see Yule praying for everyone by their request. June and Dr. Randall Mindy are not particularly religious, they have no idea how to pray and only know that saying amen is part of the process. Still, they ask Yule to pray for them because it feels important.
“Dearest Father and Almighty Creator… …we ask for your grace tonight, despite our pride. Your forgiveness, despite our doubt. Most of all, Lord… We ask for Your love to soothe us through these dark times. May we face whatever is to come… …in your divine will with courage and open hearts of acceptance. Amen.”
At this point, everyone has given up any sense of control, they know they will die within minutes. June asked Yule to pray because she was scared. They all are; they fear death and what is to come and are looking for peace and acceptance.
Pride is a big force in this movie. Randall enjoys media attention and does not try to help stop the events around him out of pride. He likes feeling good about himself over fear. Tech billionaire Peter Isherwell denies the need to peer-review his plan to combat the meteor because of pride. He thinks he can fix it himself. The same goes for the president.
At this moment, the characters have a choice. They can fight and they can get angry. They can cry or isolate themselves or go into denial. Instead, they accept their fate. They understand their lack of power and they come together to give their attention to something greater than themselves. Relief doesn’t rely on them alone, and they accept that. Though all the characters are not openly religious, the moment is beautiful and unites all of them. They are accepting what they can’t change and Timothee prays for their fate in God’s hands. They are also holding each other’s hands, they are connected, unified in this terrifying situation, but they are not afraid.
The themes of acceptance and forgiveness are at the heart of this movie. So many characters try to change the world to fit their own perception of reality and hold grudges and false perceptions about others. The reporters try to distort the facts and put on false cheer. The president and tech leader aim for their own success instead of pursuing and accepting the truth. As much as we disagree with Randall’s cheating, he comes back to his wife and asks for forgiveness and she accepts him into her home. She chooses to forgive instead of getting angry and he is honest about his mistake. He doesn’t excuse his behavior or alter the facts.
So much of this movie is full of people altering facts. The ending itself is just beautiful. Timothee’s prayer, acceptance, humility, and connection between the group are powerful. Even though they barely know each other, they face this terrifying event together. That scene redeems the hopeless tragedy that humans have created.
If you’ve seen this movie, what do you think? What do you think of the things I pointed out? Let me know down in the comments below.
Are you sick of Hallmark movies? Is Deck the Halls a little too much? I personally just want a good holiday story where the family isn’t all tinsel and hot chocolate. I love this season, and Christmas, but it just feels like false cheer. Holidays are stressful and awkward and hanging out with your family for days on end isn’t the magical dream that you see in the movies.
Just like The Office isn’t a story about a people working in glamorous careers and meeting equally put-together people, media about real people is so much better than perfect humans. We also see the beauty and awkwardness in relationships between people. Jim and Pam’s story is beautiful because they are so imperfect and awkward. Meanwhile, Hallmark actors are always cheerful, always get along with their friends, and the attractive love interest instantly falls for them. They are awkward at times, it is always charming, and their love never feels real or painful. We know who will end up together, and that no true obstacles will come that a little holiday magic can’t fix.
I’d much prefer seeing normal people just being awkward but look for love in all the wrong places. If there is one person who fits this ideal best, it is Steve Carell. Michael Scott is the most uncomfortably awkward human on television, but he is also one of the most likable. In this movie, luckily, we don’t have to deal with the cringe factor.
If you like Steve Carell being serious, and pining after someone he can’t date, this movie is a good watch. Dan is just living in real life, trying to find love, but turns out life isn’t that easy. Dan in Real Life is available to watch on Disney Plus and Amazon Prime.
Ever dream of meeting the love of your life in a bookstore? Dan in Real Life turns a classic trope on its side when she shows up at their family weekend as his brother’s new girlfriend.
If you’re not quite sold yet, I get it. I saw this movie on Amazon and to be honest I wasn’t sure if it’d be that good. I love Steve Carell in The Office, but I wasn’t sure how he would be as a romantic lead. He’s just so silly to be a pining lover, to my surprise, it worked. He was a great actor in this movie and the romance is really sweet and realistic.
Note: the movie references Emily Dickinson Poetry and Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find. Both authors are fantastic, and Dan picks these books up when he is looking for recommendations for Marie.
It doesn’t hurt that he and Marie (Juliette Binoche) have amazing chemistry. The story begins by establishing Dan as a widow with three daughters. He writes for a newspaper as an advice columnist and lives a pretty normal life. Dan is known for giving great advice to others, but he’s not so great at following it himself. He is a caring dad, but he can be a bit overprotective.
The love in this movie is very dramatic; Dan and Marie are attracted to each other, but Marie likes his brother as well and wants to see where it goes with him. She is also attracted to Dan and wishes they had met under different circumstances. The tension is intense when they are together and often funny.
The problem is they can’t tell anyone. Dan’s brother Mitch was a bit of a player in the past and isn’t the best with words, but he’s not too bad of a guy. He’s one of those gym-goers, and I can understand why the two get together at the beginning. I definitely rooting for Dan over Mitch, but Mitch wasn’t one of those jerks who the sweet lead would never think of interacting with in the first place.
Dan’s daughter Cara (Britt Robertson) is also in love with a boy named Marty. It was funny seeing the contrast between their young love and Dan’s hidden feelings for Marie. His other daughters are pretty funny too. They are sweet and not overly cutesy.
Their relationship with their father is pretty normal, the two oldest daughters are often annoyed with him and his youngest daughter still likes him. The actresses playing his daughters were pretty good. Dan is a good dad too, with Steve Carell, I expected him to be overly awkward or incompetent, but he was actually really sweet. There are some stereotypical family bonding activities like playing football in the backyard and charades, and they are fun, if a little cheesy.
Steve Carell’s acting is amazing in this film, he goes from sweet and romantic to grumpy and heartbroken and he’s never unbelievable. He is understandably heartbroken, but he keeps it to himself mostly. He’s never mad at Marie for no reason and he doesn’t take his anger out on his brother. He’s a decent person, but like all romantic protagonists, he makes a few mistakes. Yes, he pines a bit and is overdramatic, but it’s all part of the fun in a romantic comedy. I laughed out loud and almost shed a tear at the romantic scenes.
The movie shows that sometimes you have to be open to surprises. The timing isn’t always right, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work. I could predict what would happen at the end, but I enjoyed the ride. It works out in the end, but I feel like it could happen in real life. It’s not totally unbelievable. There are no Christmas miracles or anything like that, and for that reason, I would recommend this movie to anyone interested in a heartfelt romance who could use a break from the Hallmark movies.
If you’re curious about the pancakes, there is a reason for them. Hint: its sweet.
A horrible mother, a strong-willed woman, a horrible person, a debutante, and the one who never asked to be a mother– all those phrases describe Beatrice Horseman. BoJack, her son, the only living person to remember her says:
“Beatrice Horseman was born in 1938, and she died in 2018, and I have no idea… what she wanted.”
Beatrice’s big tragedy is that she never got a chance to go after what she wanted. She never even had time to evaluate and figure out where she wanted to go in life. She was raised into a life where no one asked.
Who is Beatrice Horseman and why does she so trapped? It all began when she was a child, and her problems began far before she could fully understand them.
Beatrice had a brother Crackerjack who died in the war. Her mother broke down, and her father lobotomized her mother Honey when Beatrice was a young girl. She warned her daughter to never love others as much as she loved her son because he died. Her father, Joseph Sugarman, was emotionally abusive. Beatrice then turns into an abusive mother.
If we look back, her present behavior comes from her upbringing. We see later that Beatrice is mad at BoJack for what giving birth to him did to her body. Beatrice was a little chubby as a kid, as many kids are, and her father was overly critical of her weight. He even went so much to prevent his daughter from eating ice cream, he said eating sugar and lemon was a better snack for girls.
When she gets Scarlett Fever, her dad says he’s glad that she lost weight from the fever. He’s outlandish, sexist, overly rude, and selfish. He also has no moral backing for his actions. He holds onto gender roles and rejects emotions for no foreseeable reason; he is a two-dimensional character. We can only assume that his father was terrible as well, and he makes a terrifying villain. None of this excuses his actions. However, we don’t understand why he does the things he does. He also blames his wife for not knowing that her daughter has Scarlett Fever and for not protecting her. The role of a woman is to be a good mother, he says, but he is ironically a terrible father. He says weird things like this:
“Now, stop making books your friends. Reading does nothing for young women but build their brains taking valuable resources away from their breasts and hips.”
She also makes the wrong choice, unintentionally, the first chance she has to break away from her parents. She attends a debutante party and chats with party crasher Butterscotch Horseman. He scorns the life she is born into and is different and attractive, and they have a one-night stand. Then she gets pregnant.
Beatrice marries Butterscotch and plans to raise BoJack with him because she thinks they can have a life together. She bases this on a romanticized picture that Butterscotch paints for her. The time her father burned a favorite doll haunts her, so she decides to have and raise the child out of fear and fantasy.
She never thinks about what she really wants out of life. She has passions, but her parents present marriage into a wealthy family as the only option. Therefore, she never gets to consider putting her career or other interests over finding a man. Things seem black and white to Beatrice. There are two groups: the high society that her parents live under and the rebels. She rejects the societal choice: ice cream businessman Corbin Creemerman. Beatrice chooses the rugged Kerouac-loving stallion instead thinking he’ll give her the a viable alternative to her father’s choices. But she is wrong. She learns that Corbin wanted to challenge his father’s ideas and do his business his way. He also had passion and talent. But pregnancy means that things are too late for her. That one night now determined her future. Butterscotch talked the talk, but his words came out horse crap.
The show stresses that we cannot run away from our problems. We have to look for solutions based on what we want. Beatrice is a perfect example. Running away from her emotionally abusive father led her to another abusive man. Butterscotch’s abuse is not Beatice’s fault. The mentality her father ingrained in her kept her from seeing other options as viable.
BoJack Horseman constantly reminds us that we can’t run away from our problems, and Beatrice models that ideal like she’s working for Cosmo. She learns that running away from her emotionally abusive father led her to another abusive man. She gave up her dreams for a man, so when she meets a woman with dreams to become a nurse, she encourages her to choose her career.
When Butterscotch gets the maid pregnant, he begs Beatrice to talk to her.
“Don’t throw away your dreams for this child. Don’t let that man poison your life the way he did mine. You are going to finish your schooling and become a nurse. You’ll meet a man, a good man and you’ll have a family, but please believe me you don’t want this. Please, Henrietta, you have to believe me. Please, don’t do it I did.”
Beatrice went to Columbia College. Her father wanted her to find a husband there. We do not know what Beatrice studied, but we do know she was passionate about civil rights, justice, and lessening economic disparities. She was critical of the social class she grew up in and of her father’s business.
She reminds me a lot of Diane, they both have the same passions, but Beatrice got stuck in a life she never wanted. When she decides to marry Butterscotch, she follows is a romanticized idea of marriage and a family and is thus stuck there.
Time’s Arrow challenges the idea that things happen for a–presumably good–reason. Beatrice and Butterscotch actually wanted different things out of life, but they din’t get a chance to end their relationship. Beatrice accepted the consequences of her choices, and her acceptance of the life she chose limited her for the rest of her life.
Beatrice says that later in life Henrietta will meet a good man and have a family. Is Beatrice projecting here?
She chose not to think about if she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom because Butterscotch told her life would be idyllic and she wanted to believe him. She never made a conscious decision to be a parent, let alone a good one. She didn’t see her child as a living creature who deserved love. She was never taught about loving another person. Instead, she saw BoJack as something that ruined her life. It is fortunate that her son never becomes a father.
At the end of the series, Herb says BoJack is a:
“Husband to no-one, father to no one (that we know of) Standup comedian, actor, crippling alcoholic, a talented charmer, a stupid piece of shit.”
It is joked about that BoJack paid for several women to get abortions. The horse certainly spread his seed, and he could have gotten a woman pregnant who ended up either raising or putting up a child for adoption. It is no surprise when Hollyhock tells him that he might be her daddy. Hollyhock forces BoJack to become responsible for another human, and as we see in Stupid Piece of Sh*t, he uses this to fuel his self-hatred further. He ditches her to get drunk. So, fatherly responsibility isn’t going to fix BoJack.
His lie that the voice in her head goes away would probably come back to haunt her when she realized her father suffered the same way. He is relieved when he realizes that Hollyhock is his sister instead. Once he realizes he has no obligation to be a parent, their relationship actually improves. The show never argues that parenthood makes anyone a better or less selfish person. It is clear BoJack makes a terrible parent. BoJack’s experiences with children are rarely good. He gives four-year-old Sarah Lynn that harrowing speech not to stop dancing. But that doesn’t stop his desires or curiosity about having children.
But he dreams of an alternate world of marrying Charlotte and having a daughter. It is a beautiful image of what could have been. We don’t know if it could’ve been that good. The idealist in me wants to believe that, though it wouldn’t have been all sunshine and rainbows, it would be better for him. If BoJack thought about it and decided to leave LA, he could have been happier. But when he meets Charlotte’s family and real daughter, Penny, he gives her teenage friends alcohol, leaves an overdosed teen at the hospital unaided. He then agrees to and almost has sex with Charlotte’s daughter after Charlotte rejects him. I could go on, but BoJack takes horrible care of himself and even worse care of others.
Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter are other characters who deal with children. Diane has an abortion and the two seem just not to want kids. Their relationship as a couple has been tumultuous, but they also have good times. Oddly enough, I would argue that the episode where Diane has an abortion is the best the two have gotten along and the healthiest day we see of their relationship. We also see that their lack of interest in having kids is completely unrelated to the state of their marriage or their desire for love. They both marry and remarry a couple of times in the show and put effort into their marriage when they’re together. Being in a loving and stable relationship and having a partner to lean on and live life with is important for both of them. Having children is something that neither of them wants out of life. Diane does end up marrying Guy, who has a teenage stepson. It was fun watching them bond. Sonny is a pretty well-adjusted teen, and she doesn’t have to parent him. That is all Guy.
Diane also has a heart for helping kids, and people who are struggling. She cares for a boy in Cordovia only for him to die. She worries about her neglectful parents and wants to use her trauma for good and to help others in similar situations. Diane ends up writing a middle-grade mystery series about a Vietnamese American girl named Ivy Tran because she enjoys it. She says she wishes that she could have read a novel like this growing up. It could have helped her. Although she doesn’t help children through motherhood, Diane helps kids in ways she didn’t expect. BoJack Horseman shows that you don’t have to give up your passions to be happy. She helps others by doing things that she loves rather than sacrificing what she wants. By realizing her passions, Diane can help kids around the world. Kids can look up to her and have hope for the future. Ivy Trans is a gift that keeps giving, she creates a world that she wishes she had as a kid.
Instead, she watched BoJack’s Horsin’ Around as a kid, a show that simplified life’s problems into 30-minute segments. The show put real kids on set for hours a day, performing for an audience of people who do not care about them. A good parent could have helped Sarah Lynn realize her passions and encouraged her in her dream to become an architect. Instead, she was raised by money-driven parents and negligent producers who contributed to her low-self worth and addiction. Sarah Lynn deserved so much better.
This show would be pretty skeptical of all parents if it weren’t for Princess Carolyn. She is the one major character who desperately wants a baby. She famously says:
I compulsively take care of other people because I can’t take care of myself.”
Out of all the characters, surface-level Princess Carolyn would not want kids. Women in fiction who focus on their careers usually lack a desire for children. Work and children are two separate areas of life where one can succeed. A woman chooses one or the other. Princess Carolyn cares about her career more than anyone else. She works long hours, does almost everything for the job.
When we look at Diane, she works hard when she is passionate about something, but she cares much more for the social impact of her work and gets little of her value from the work itself if it is not meaningful. She also spends a considerable portion of her time on her romantic relationships.
For BoJack, the work is the means to an end too. BoJack puts a decent bit of his self-worth into work. He is willing to put effort into work if it makes him feel good about himself, gives his life purpose, and makes him look good, but he gives up if it doesn’t serve him. His work never fully fulfills him, because each project ends and then he has to do something new. He keeps looking for a meaningful role, but he doesn’t find what he’s looking for. Work can’t make him feel better about himself, which is why he also spends a significant amount of his time trying to feel better about himself and numb the pain through drugs, alcohol, and sex. Mr. Peanutbutter and Todd put their effort into wacky hijinks and work seems to just happen to them.
Princess Carolyn, in contrast, spends the majority of her time working. She rarely dates or puts effort into romantic relationships, even though she wants to have a child. She is good at her job, so she puts all her time and energy into work.
It is only when Princess Carolyn leaves an environment that promotes working hard and selling anything that she is challenged. This is when she visits a pregnant woman named Sadie who lives in the same rural town she grew up in. Her hometown was a place where she she started out, and it humbled her even when she doesn’t want to be humbled.
Princess Carolyn tries to impress Sadie, but she learns that outside of Hollywoo, people aren’t flattered easily. Sadie calls Princess Carolyn out. Princess Carolyn insists that Sadie does what she wants and doesn’t decide based on her boyfriend or the baby. Princess Carolyn insists that she knows best, and though she has good intentions. The reality is that Sadie could give her child a good life if she wanted to be a mother. There isn’t a better way of life or one right way to be a parent, but you have to want and choose to care about your kids and put them first.
“I just want to give your baby a better life”
“Better than what. Better than a sky for of stars?”
Princess Carolyn and Sadie
Princess Carolyn has to let go of her ego. She treats taking care of a kid like a business deal, but Sadie doesn’t fall for her tricks, just like a child wouldn’t. Princess Carolyn is called out for her flaws, before adopting a child, and I found this important. Princess Carolyn is one of my favorite characters, and she is certainly tenacious, but I did wonder if she’d be a good mother. She ends up spending a lot of time on her career after adopting Ruthie and she ends up marrying Judah, who is just as job-focused as she is. Her acceptance of Sadie, and realizing that what she wants might not be best for Sadie. She has to understand someone else’s needs and put them first.
I felt hopeful after that scene, if her daughter is different from her if she doesn’t have that work-loving ambition, Princess Carolyn will love her all the same. Unlike her mother, she can accept someone’s dream is not hers. Her child will grow up and become an individual and find purpose in a lifestyle that might be different from her mother.
By recognizing that her child won’t always do what she wants, Princess Carolyn will be a better mother than hers was. I found that role models help. Beatrice Horseman lost everything that she loved, but she had no role model. Princess Carolyn is inspired by Amelia Airheart to pursue her dreams, and she always worked for what she wanted. She knew what she wanted, which can be rare, but she always made the best of a bad situation. It is how she grew up. She will raise Ruthie and pass her values into her. I like to think that Princess Carolyn became a good mother.
Still, her self-reliance is a trademark of her character, she pushes a loving boyfriend away. She’s also been through a lot, she knows that she wants a baby and is willing to go through anything to get there. In the episode Ruthie, Princess Carolyn imagines her great-great-great-granddaughter telling her class about a day in her life. It is revealed in “Ruthie” that she had five miscarriages. She isn’t longing for an idealized fantasy, she wants something and goes after it. She does enjoy the work she does and she names a tv show Philibert after a baby she lost. The show becomes a pseudo child for her. It becomes clear though, that the show isn’t what Princess Carolyn wants. She wants a real child, a real person to love and to carry on her legacy. It is only when her work baby dies–Philbert gets canceled–that Princess Carolyn finally gets her real baby. Princess Carolyn chooses to have a baby because it is what she wants, and she makes sacrifices to get there. Princess Carolyn and her goals are amazing, but the show makes it clear that not everyone should follow her example. When BoJack contemplates his life in a dreamlike state in “The View From Halfway Down” he talks about sacrifice with the important people in his life.
BoJack: “When we grow up in a house that does that we internalize this idea that being happy is a selfish act, but sacrifice doesn’t mean anything.”
Sarah Lynn: “Yes it does.”
BoJack: “Sacrifice? In the service of something greater, maybe, but just in and of itself? What’s the good in that?”
Beatrice was convinced that she was giving up herself, sacrificing her happiness for a husband and child. She feels that marrying Butterscotch and raising BoJack was her sacrifice to life, but this notion limits her. In reality, she does not give anything to BoJack. She emotionally abuses him and makes him feel small and worthless. She clings to the societal convention that people shouldn’t divorce, but there is no heart behind that conviction. Her father burned her doll as a child when she gets sick, and he tells her it is a good thing. Giving up the good things is never the answer. Beatrice made a sacrifice raising BoJack, but she never wanted to be a mother of Butterscotch’s child. He doesn’t want BoJack either, and they are both miserable. Her mentality about sacrifice isn’t good for anyone.
There is never a message that there is a greater cause that makes sacrifice worth it. Beatrice’s father’s misogyny is shallow. He only cares about money and surface-level appearances. Beatrice continues this cycle and remains miserable because it is the only thing she knows. She feels unable to love BoJack because she feels like her ability to love is gone, like her doll in the fire.
If we look at Diane, she never gave up her passion for anything else. She ended her marriage with Mr. Peanutbutter because she didn’t want to live always squinting to see what makes her happy. She wanted to be happy and to be the best version of herself. By following what she is good at (writing) and what she enjoys, Diane helps others in a brilliant but unexpected way. The same is to be said for BoJack. He never becomes a father in the traditional sense, but he helps coach young actors at Wesleyan and later actors in prison. He turns out to be a great coach, and he gives to something bigger than himself. His acting is no longer just something to boost his ego, and he doesn’t have to put hours into something he hates for the sake of doing good. He genuinely loves helping people and uses his experience to his advantage. BoJack also has made the decision to change and do good by the people around him.
When Princess Carolyn finally adopts Ruthie, life becomes busier, but she is in a good place to have a child. Soon afterward, Judah tells her that he loves her and they get married. Before her marriage, her friend Todd also helped her out and babysat. She can handle this and she wants a baby. Although things might not always be the same, Princess Carolyn trusts her past self made the right choice.
Choice doesn’t necessarily make things better in BoJack’s world–people often make terrible ones–but the central message is that you have to both accept and embrace the decisions you make. When Beatrice makes Henrietta give up her daughter, it is easy to see her as cruel. We know Hollyhock was raised by loving parents, but we don’t know if giving up the baby was the right decision. Henrietta wanted her baby more than Beatrice ever did, but she also wanted a baby for perhaps the wrong reasons. She still cared for Butterscotch and hoped he would be a good father and romantic partner. Beatrice knew the truth.
So, when it comes to decisions and sacrifice, the series affirms that thoughtful and careful consideration are important. People who are unable to receive the facts are at a disadvantage. Beatrice is here when she decides to marry Butterscotch. It is important to take what we know and work with it.
We can’t predict the future, but we can learn about our situation now and decide on those factors. At one point, BoJack asks Princess Carolyn why she is an agent and she says that she is good at it. She keeps working and finds she wants to be a manager, a similar role, instead. We should look at what makes us happy, our strengths, and think about what makes us happy in real-life rather than grasping for ideals or our imagination. At the end of the series, BoJack responds to Carolyn’s concern about doubting herself. What if her marriage to Judah doesn’t work out? Well, that’s just life–we make choices and figure things out.
” No, but you’re here because at some point, Princess Carolyn thought this was a really good idea, and I think we oughtta listen to her because she’s the smartest woman I know”
Have you watched BoJack Horseman? What did you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Sad Horses. I can not remember the last time I watched a show with anthropomorphic animals that made me so sad, maybe Charlotte’s Web? I was around eight, and I watched the 1973 version. It always cracked me up when I was having a bad day. Does anyone remember the rat paradise scene? I’d recommend checking it out if you haven’t seen it before. He walks around the fair and eats a bunch of fair food. A mood perhaps. Anyway, I the ending of Charlotte’s Web made me cry the first time I saw it, but Bojack has so much more sadness.
So, why do I keep talking about this? Why is this odd show starring anthropomorphic animals and cartoon humans so good? Look at this picture.
There were loads of pictures and great scenes I could have introduced BoJack with, but this one fits my gut reaction to the show best. BoJack Horseman forces us to see ourselves. The show serves as a mirror to ourselves. It shows the world we live in, the lines on our faces, our mistakes, our biggest regrets. Our days of Horsin Around have ended. Hard times and self-reflection have begun. The days of animal puns, a deep dive into various facets of the human psyche, and all the worst parts about ourselves are just beginning.
Raphael Bob Waksberg is incredibly talented. If you are an optimistic person and have a high view of human nature, buckle up. You will be in for a bumpy ride. Do you see that one with all the potholes? Yes, we are in the right place. We are going to fasten our seatbelts now. If you are in the camp of people who feel stuck a lot of the time and struggle to get better, prepare for more disappointment in humanity and animality. I am not saying the characters are unlikable. Many of them–like Princess Carolyn, Todd, and Diane–are fascinating and deeply imperfect. Others are awful people or random criminal masterminds, like Margo Martindale, and almost everyone is miserable.
There are also moments like this:
The fire department saves this poor cat quickly. Unfortunately, when people get stuck in a bad situation due to their personal choices, we cannot become free from what got us there. A few people, a truck, and a ladder cannot solve their unhealthy patterns. Mistakes come with long-term consequences and sometimes permanent damage to relationships. How we acknowledge and continue to live after our mistakes is a question that the show asks. And if you want more animal puns, BoJack Horseman contains many, many more of them.
So here is a Spoiler-free list of all the reasons to watch Bojack Horseman.
So, why do you watch that weird show with the talking horse? That is a question I heard a few times this summer from family and friends when I told them I watched Bojack Horseman on Netflix. Bojack Horseman, known for sad themes, is often called the Sad Horse show. Bojack Horseman was the type of show I watched a couple of episodes at a time a few days a week. I would never binge the series in a week. Like a fine wine, Bojack works best when you take a sip and let it sit with you for a while. Perhaps I have not convinced you to watch yet, fair enough. I had not watched many adult cartoons before this one, and I was a little skeptical about a talking horse show.
Thankfully, a few scenes popped enough on my youtube recommendations. After witnessing enormous emotional depth and character development packed in a few short clips, I needed to watch BoJack Horseman. When I finished the sixth season, the tall, depressed, anthropomorphic horse actor and his friends won my heart. Despite, or even because the show focused on this fifty-something talking horse rather than some live actor. BoJack Horseman felt more human than anything I have watched in a while. Here are some reasons why you should give BoJack a try.
Excellent Character Development
Many of the characters are unique and have different backstories and goals for life. I recognized myself in several of the characters. BoJack is a washed-up actor trying to find out what will give him purpose.
Princess Carolyn is focused on her career and longs for a baby. Her desire to be a mother and issues conceiving feel very real. She works with BoJack, which is complicated for several reasons, one is his egoism. She often takes care of other people over herself and after all these years, she still isn’t where she wants in life.
Diane is a passionate writer and wants to help others and make a difference. She is a humanitarian and she wants to do good, but she still hasn’t figured out how her ambitions fit with the soullessness of LA. She is dating Mr. Peanutbutter, whose constant optimism clashes with her dissatisfaction with the world.
Todd is a young guy who is oddly successful with his wacky business ideas until they crash and burn. He crashes at BoJack’s and he is trying to find his place in the world. I’m going to add a minor spoiler here.
A part of Todd’s storyline is his discovery of his sexuality. Todd finds out that he is asexual in the fourth season. Asexual people do not experience sexual attraction to anyone. In a world where romance and sex are rampant, I appreciated how much the writers cared about the storyline. They took an established and lovable character, Todd is so sweet and funny, and showed him figuring out that he is ace. This storyline made me love him all the more. Todd meets other asexual people, and we learn about their asexual experiences too. Todd is a great character and represents a group of people (1% of the population) rarely seen on screen.
Overall, everyone is on a unique path to understanding themselves and the world better. Everyone in BoJack Horseman is grappling with life dissatisfaction at the beginning of the series. Everyone is shaped and drawn to certain behaviors for better or worse, but they all have to figure out how to live in this world. Every person or animal must grapple with cycles of bad habits and character flaws as they try to create meaning for their lives.
Their parents and past shows shaped their current selves. How does someone develop and find peace after leaving behind an unhealthy childhood? Most of the characters are stuck in their careers and lifestyles. But does that mean that they are successful and happy? What does it mean to be a success, anyway? And where do we go next if our choices aren’t making us happy? What does happiness mean for us? How do we get there?
Every character has a unique set of passions, goals, and personalities. The road to happiness is not a straight drive, and I root for all of them along the way.
2. Mental Health Representation, Depression,Alcoholism, and Abusive Childhoods
There is not much accurate representation on TV for any of these experiences. Recently, mental health awareness has become more popular and widespread. Representation in media helps people with these experiences feel seen and helps educate others about people who suffer from depression, anxiety, Bipolar disorder, or other mental health issues. BoJack Horseman shows the day-to-day life of a person experiencing depression. Season 4, Episode 6, “Stupid Piece of Sh*t”, is celebrated for portraying the inner monologue of someone dealing with depression and alcoholism. “The Face of Depression” and “Good Damage” give an inside look into depression from another perspective and capture the feelings some people with depression experience. Both characters struggle with depression but they both experience, process, and deal with the symptoms differently.
Bojack Horseman shows how childhood abuse affects self-worth. Get prepared for flashbacks! And bring the tissues and the tomatoes. I disliked quite a few people in the show. I would not boo them off stage, but I want to. I also want to keep watching. The people in this show are sometimes the worst. Most come from complicated lives and have reasons for why they are the way they are.
3. It is honest
Bojack Horseman shows that life is hard; Wacksberg never shies away from critiquing Hollywood, the deep flaws within our culture, and the tragedies that befall people who become famous at a young age. If you heard about the cast of Full House or the case of Britney Spears, famous people are often treated like dirt, by their audiences, by each other, and by the industry itself.
I found myself understanding and empathizing with many characters even though I never experienced fame myself. Everyone in Bojack Horseman is flawed and human. They also have moments where they are funny, kind-hearted, and creative. Shows like the Simpsons and other sitcoms are funny and sometimes heartwarming, but I can never get invested in them. No one truly changes or grows, and few acknowledge existential angst. They are comfortable, sometimes they complain about the monotony of life, sure, but they don’t question their place in the world. They never desperately long for a change but go about it in the wrong ways.
Full House is good if you want to turn your brain off for a few hours. If you are looking for another Fuller House or Friends to watch, I would not recommend watching Bojack Horseman (except maybe season 1). I love Full House, but when each episode ends, you wonder, that is it? They solved this complex issue in thirty minutes. This character never makes the same mistake again, and if they do, they solve it in another 30 minutes? Bojack realized that in real life, with real human beings, reaching such a satisfying conclusion is impossible.
It is a deep show, man. Bojack asks questions like; what type of person should I be? How do I become a better person? Why do I keep failing? Why are the things that I am doing not making me happy? They all bring me back to reality. Often, at the end of an episode, I would feel sad. There is no grand speech or gesture that makes it happy again. In a typical comedy, characters make stupid and occasionally cruel choices and act dumb, but they never really change. Nor do their mistakes have any consequences after the episode has aired. Every action follows the characters of Bojack Horseman. Just watch the opening credits. Every season and even episode changes.
In life, there is not an easy fix or an easy answer. We make decisions. Then we fall and start over. We do good and then screw it up; we have to decide if we should get up and try again.
Life is not clean-cut and easily understood. Every decision in the world of Bojack leads to repercussions and sometimes permanent damage to their relationships with others. There is no reset button with every episode. We do not just forget that our friend betrayed us. There is forgiveness, but forgiveness does not make everything right or make consequences disappear. We have to learn from our mistakes and move forward where we are. Getting better results requires us to act kinder to ourselves and others right now. Every person keeps going, living with choices they made in the episodes before.
In life, there is no easy fix or an easy answer. We make decisions, we fall and start over, we do good and screw it up and have to decide if we should get up and try again. The characters get stuck in unhealthy patterns and screw up in a world where people only care about fame, power, and individual happiness. The decision to do good is often made alone in a world that does not give a damn. The support from others certainly helps, and it does, but we can not fix other people or their unhealthy patterns. The actions one takes and the consequences are something that every character must understand and learn from themselves.
4. Witty animal puns and jokes
This show is so punny. I need to rewatch it to get all the jokes. Bojack Horseman contains countless animal puns and pop culture references; we are in Hollywood, after all. The animals act like actual animals. Mr. Peanutbutter is a happy-go-lucky golden retriever. He gets excited when guests ring the doorbell, stick his head out the window in the car, and hoards tennis balls. Princess Carolyn says she is not catty, but she keeps a scratching post in her office and always lands on her feet. Pretty much everyone gets an animal pun, so lookout. The artwork, background characters, and regulars are full of puns. Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter bring plenty of wacky hijinks that never cease to amaze me.
Like Tuca and Bertie, the humor is self-aware and witty. Though Bojack is a total jerk, Bojack has a great sense of sarcastic horse humor.
5. It provides understanding into the time we live in
When I first started watching Bojack Horseman, to put it bluntly, I saw a cynical show full of miserable people. The show gets darker after each passing episode, but there are many heartwarming moments. If you are making your way through the show right now, I will tell you it gets better. It also gets worse but in a good way.
But why is it so sad?
I would say that the show causes so much distress and sadness is because of its harsh criticism of our culture, past, and present. There is little that the characters of Bojack can hold onto for comfort. Many characters are alone and struggle to communicate with one another. The resolutions are not the happy talks we expect from Full House. I would also argue that the show refuses to sugarcoat what it believes to be true about reality. Life is not all gloom and doom, but the nature of our existence and state as beings in this world, if we really want to live well, according to the creators, requires us to accept some harsh truths.
Bojack Horseman refutes common beliefs about love, family, death, redemption, and friendship. Whether or not you agree with how the show approaches these topics and others, Bojack Horseman is consistent and seldom shallow. Cue cringy pool joke about the opening credits here.
Bojack Horseman carefully considers the characters and their decisions and what the audience takes away from the show. A question I often ask is, what do the writers think of the characters? They, after all, write every decision that the characters make and have to make them likable or redeemable enough to keep people watching. There are some fantastic meta moments later. They might make you question things, or they may not.
Overall, Bojack Horseman is correctly called the Sad Horse show. It made me laugh out loud, I fell in love with the characters, and it made me (awfully) sad sometimes. I found it to be a pretty accurate representation of our culture and (some of) our generation’s view of the past and the human condition. Life is hard and, this show never shies away from, well, anything. Bojack Horseman is layered and well written. The dialogue hits hard, and characters call each other out on their crap. I love watching people get called out. But it is also sad to watch. I would recommend the show to anyone looking for a new show to watch. If you feel in the mood for a chipper, happy-go-lucky, Disney-like comedy, I would not recommend watching the entirety of Bojack Horseman now. It can be sad. You could always watch a few of the best-rated episodes from IMDB. Time’s Arrow is my favorite episode.
One more thing, if you do give it a watch, a final reminder, DO NOT skip the intro! The intro is a total bop, and the background of the credits changes and gives some hints and Easter eggs.
Have you seen Bojack Horseman or any shows that deal with sad themes; what do you like about it? What are some of your favorite shows? Let me know what you think of this review in the comments below.
A spoiler-free review of Tuca and Bertie Season One
If I were to describe the last 2 years, or maybe even the last 5 years in one word, I might go with surreal. Often life just doesn’t make sense. I don’t know why things happen the way they do. A worldwide pandemic is an event that only a movie like Contagion or the Simpsons could predict, and we’re still grappling with all this uncertainty.
Life can just be weird and events sometimes don’t make sense; I often wonder where I fit into it all, but nevertheless, here I am, embracing the absurd parts. Of course, other times, I get so wrapped up in habit and routine that life feels boring and predictable. I want silliness, oddness, and just to laugh again.
From snake busses, purple jaguars, careless plant teenagers, to bouncing boobs on buildings, Tuca and Bertie is a goofy show. If you’ve ever felt a craving for some more oddity, with some adult content, or if you’re just looking for a well-written animated sitcom, Netflix and Adult Swim have something for you.
Tuca and Bertie takes place in a world way more surreal than ours, it’s with a catchy theme song that juxtaposes their names. Tuca and Bertie are zany and bold as they wave their arms wildly to a catchy bop. Their theme song slaps, there, I said it. They’re both dancing around and doing their thing as they navigate the fun, stressful, and just plain absurd parts of life together.
The theme song is really fun, but to tell you the truth, the show gets dark. It’s not too sad, and it’s so good, I promise.
I discovered Tuca and Bertie partially by surprise. I had just completed the last episode of Bojack Horseman and felt completely wrecked. I’ll have more thoughts on this in other reviews, but basically, I simultaneously felt like I both never wanted to see anything that could make me feel things again and to dive into a new show to help me get over Bojack Horseman. I kind of wanted more Bojack too. Netflix kindly displayed a new program that seemed perfect. Tuca and Bertie were written and produced by Lisa Hanawalt, the animator of Bojack Horseman.
I found Tuca and Bertie more fun than Bojack, it deals with difficult topics at times, but Hanawalt’s show is nowhere near as bleak. Their world is bright and colorful and though Tuca and Bertie are so zany, their lives feel grounded and accessible. For me, it’s partially because the show is written from a female perspective. In adult cartoons and television generally, there aren’t a lot of narratives like Tuca and Bertie.
Creator Lisa Hanawalt said in an interview:
“I wasn’t consciously thinking, “How do I make this more relatable to women?” I was just writing stories from my own life, stories from my friends’ lives and things that I specifically haven’t seen in adult animation before. Like, that feeling when a plumber is in your apartment and you don’t know if he’s going to attack you or not. That’s really common for women.”
Tuca and Bertie isn’t a tale of the lives of Hollywood celebrities, they’re real people, well, birds, learning about themselves and their place in the world. In comparison with characters from a lot of adult animation shows, the characters in Tuca and Bertie seem pretty put together on the surface.
Typical of TV best friends, Tuca and Bertie are classic polar opposites. Tuca, played by Tiffany Haddish is fun, free-spirited, resourceful. She’s “friend, hero, connoisseur of snacks, confident but relatable, wearer of short shorts.” She sounds like the cool girl that I’d want to be friends with but would be a bit intimidated to approach her. But once that first conversation started, by her making a snarky comment and me bursting out into uncontrollable laughter, we would know this friendship was going to be one for the long haul.
Once a Tuca is in your life, she and all her belongings become utterly intertwined with your apartment and your heart. Tuca is confident and kind, and as you get to know her, you see she’s got insecurities as well. Tuca begins the show as a recovering alcoholic and fears being alone. She’s given a lot of depth and even if you’ve never been the life of the party, you’ll feel for her as the show goes on.
Bertie, voiced by Ali Wong, is the total opposite, she’s a total introvert who admires Tuca’s ease with talking to people. She’s equally awesome. She’s introduced as a “professional amateur chef, people pleaser, fuss bucket”, which sounds like she could be a little stuffy, but early on, we learn that Bertie’s behaviors stem from her anxiety. Bertie’s kind of living the dream that many of us crave in our twenties, she’s got a nice apartment with a supportive partner, an awesome best friend, and a job as a senior operations analyst for a magazine.
That being said, Bertie’s anxiety often dominates her life. Television is just beginning to show characters with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, and Bertie is one of the few characters that portray anxiety well. She is hardworking and passionate, but her thoughts can spiral, and she makes mistakes and feels isolated and alone at times. She’s also super kind, a total introvert, and a lover of romantic period dramas– I can totally relate to that last part, I could rewatch BBC’s Prude and Prejudice all day, and some of her experiences with anxiety as well.
I’ll say it now, Hanawalt is fantastic at writing self-aware humor. Hanawalt makes jokes in scenes portraying Bertie’s anxiety without mocking or discrediting the character’s or anyone else’s experiences. Bertie is totally hilarious, and the show mocks anxiety itself, because it makes no sense at times. Anxiety isn’t an overreaction or done for attention, in fact, these feelings are often the last way an anxious person wants to feel, but here they are right in the middle of the work, a date, or the grocery store. Luckily, she has friends to be there during the worst moments.
Tuca, Bertie, and Bertie’s lovable boyfriend Speckle (Steven Yuen), have a fun and complex dynamic together. Friendship is weird sometimes, especially as we grow up, relationships shift in some ways and stay the same in others. We put value into our relationships with others while juggling life, work, and for some, romantic relationships that also require our energy and time. Friendship isn’t always dancing and rainbows and the show digs into the complexities of our relationships with one another, the role of a friend, and all the uncertainty and stress we experience as we figure out what we mean to each other.
The background is totally wack, the jokes are unapologetically bawdy at times, but it never felt gross or offensive. The style is fun and Hanawalt uses the drawing style to show some side commentary on the characters and effects.
Needless to say, Tuca and Bertie is a great show that explores complex and dark themes with care and humor. It made me laugh and grow to care for these two silly birds. On days when things felt totally surreal, I’d watch this show and feel a little less alone.
I’d recommend Tuca and Bertie to anyone who doesn’t mind adult humor. The show also references to anxiety, sexual assault, and harassment.
If you’re curious about learning more about the show’s creator Lisa Hanawalt and her perspective writing the show, I found an interview of hers on the first season
The Perusing Muse is a site where I look to culture as a means of understanding life and analyze what it says about living a meaningful one. In less overly philosophical mission terms, I analyze shows, books, movies, and comics that I like and talk about why I love them so much.