You don’t need to cry at Shindler’s List to be sophisticated anymore, you can cry at BoJack Horseman, and I PROMISE you, your emotions are valid.

In my recent memory, there is only one film I’ve seen that has made me so emotional, that I ugly cried. And that film was Raise Your Voice starring Hilary Duff, when her and her brother get in a car accident on the way home from the Three Days Grace concert, and she survives and her brother does not — devastating.

I have ADHD, so my attention span for intense things is approximately negative 1000. It’s not that I don’t have the ability to become emotional over an epic film, it’s that I literally cannot sit through it, and therefore I don’t get to the emotional apex (and honestly even if I did, the chances of me actually paying attention up until that point, and therefore appreciating the apex, are also negative 1000ish). I wish I could tell you that I got emotional at something legit, like Terms of Endearment or heck, even Titanic. But NEIGH (and I think you’ll see that NEIGH was purposely spelled incorrectly in order to be used as a literary clue of things to come in this sure to be riveting article, about the emotion one is capable of feeling when watching a cartoon horse and his comrades try and navigate life in the mythical land of Hollywoo!)

I first started watching BoJack Horseman as a way to simply watch TV (I’m not kidding when I say I’m literally not capable of watching anything. Like, I couldn’t watch Stranger Things, I couldn’t watch Making A Murderer; I missed basically every pop culture reference spawned by Netflix in the last 3 years). I love cartoons, because they’re stupid, quick, have big colours, etc. Initially, when I pressed play on S.1, EP. 1 of BoJack Horseman, it was a seemingly meaningless action. I had no idea that I had metaphorically strapped in for the emotional ride of my life.

Cartoons in general are a great way to portray things you cannot easily portray in real life: ie, when Peter Griffin gets in a 20 minute fight with a human sized chicken in Family Guy, or when Homer Simpson reaches behind his TV cabinet and accesses an alternate dimension. Usually, the tool of the surreal is used for comical purposes, like in the aforementioned examples. But in BoJack Horseman, the tool is used to effectively express the complexities of depression, abuse, trauma, addiction, nostalgia, and dealing with your past.

For those of you who have never seen the show, BoJack Horseman depicts a literal Horse-Man (not to be confused with his last name, which is ironically, Horseman), in a satirical Hollywood (called Hollywoo), where he lives his life as a C-List actor, who was famous in the 90’s after being on a Full House-type show, and is now trying to get his life and career back on track. You quickly learn that he is a selfish, abusive alcoholic/drug addict, who has no real friends, unhealthy ties to his family, and seemingly demolishes every relationship that comes into his life.

The show holds nothing back, from BoJack indirectly killing his only friend by enabling her drug use, to BoJack trying to apologize to another friend who’s on his death bed with terminal cancer – who, instead of accepting his apology, tells BoJack he has to “live with the shitty thing he did” – to his only friend and confidant unable to tell him that he is a “good person” after BoJack blatantly asks if he is.

This is all done while explaining his past trauma, his relationship with his family, his mother’s neglect, and his grandmother’s neglect of his mother. The second episode of Season 4 uses the cartoon thing I was talking about earlier, to show generation after generation in his old family home, simultaneously standing in the same spots, as each demonstrates neglect in their own timeline, perfectly illustrating how trauma is inherited. The combination creates a complex relationship between BoJack and the viewer. He is the protagonist, so you know you’re supposed to like him, but he does so many selfish and truly shitty things that you sometimes can’t. But then on the other hand, his past explains why he’s like that, so you also kind of empathize. Can we say complex?

Why I like this, is that I often find when shows are trying to be “real”, they glaze over the point in the name of being “raw” and “relatable”. A good example of this is Girls on HBO. Lena Dunham is like, always taking naked baths with her friends. And if they’re not doing that, they’re having a threesome. Or they’re randomly deciding to try cocaine on a whim? It’s Brooklyn! It’s raw! But kind of unrealistic? Like, being a girl in the city doesn’t mean you do those things, just because they’re jarring or hard core.

Appropriately, BoJack Horseman doesn’t take the easy way of being shocking by introducing shock value. Instead, it’s real in that it is unresolved in many ways, which is realistic without being shocking or introducing something the audience doesn’t recognize. Keeping with this theme, the show has not, until the season four finale, had a happy ending. In fact, the season finale for each season has been one of the most depressing, relatable, and raw episodes of television I have ever seen.

Basically, what I’m saying is, I think this show cured me of my ADHD. Because while telling the story of BoJack is depressing, you also have to focus on the brilliant writing – the writing that makes every piece of dialogue a clever one liner (this is the funniest show I’ve ever seen), that references current events in the world with seemingly no filter (episodes on abortion and women and guns that fearlessly take a stand on both issues), all the while, wondering how you forgot that this show is a cartoon about animal-people, and why is it making you laugh and cry?

You don’t need to cry at Shindler’s List to be sophisticated anymore, you can cry at BoJack Horseman, and I PROMISE you, your emotions are valid.