Over the last decade, Netflix has risen from a simple streaming service for studio films and syndicated shows to a bona fide entertainment powerhouse. From House of Cards to Stranger Things, the company has received accolades for works across genres. Bojack Horseman, its critically acclaimed adult animated comedy–drama, has recieved critical acclaim, but it has yet to be recognized by TV's most prestigious awards body—the Emmys.
Featuring Will Arnett as the voice of the titular horse–man, Bojack Horseman is set in a world where anthropomorphic animals and humans coexist in a society similar to our own. Bojack, an aging former ‘90’s sitcom star living in Los Angeles, serves as the focal point while surrounded by characters such as roommate Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul), biographer Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie), agent Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), and acting peer Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), each with their own fascinating personalities and plotlines.
Five seasons in, Bojack has been lauded for its humor and commentary on subjects such as mental illness, addiction, sexism, self–discovery, and life fulfillment. The Washington Post’s Bethonie Butler opened her Season 4 review by wondering how “a story about a depressed, alcoholic horse [became] one of the most human shows on TV.” Some have even deemed it one of the best shows on air: after Season 2, Vox reviewer Emily VanDerWerff wrote that it had “found its footing beautifully in season two, earning the title of not just the streaming service's best show, but of one of television's best shows,” while The A.V. Club writer Danette Chavez said that Season 3 exemplified that “Netflix has taken it upon itself to add Bojack to the line of TV’s famous antiheroes.”
However, despite receiving approval ratings above 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic aggregate scores above 87 since its second season, the show had received just a single Emmy nomination, for "Outstanding Character Voice–Over Performance" by voice actor Kristen Schaal during its third season. That number doubled when it received a nod for "Best Animated Program" this year for the episode “Free Churro.”
“Free Churro” is one in a long line of standout episodes from each season since the second, from “Escape from L.A.” to “Fish Out of Water” to “Time’s Arrow.” In "Escape from L.A.," Bojack runs from his movie set to a friend’s place in New Mexico, only to cause shocking trauma throughout her family and reinforce his personal misery of refusing to change for the better. “Fish Out of Water” is particularly unique as it's set underwater and almost entirely without dialogue, allowing the animators to create a visual masterpiece that captures emotions through body language alone. "Time's Arrow" takes a full dive into Bojack’s mother’s past trauma as she experiences a dementia–driven hallucination. It is beautifully poignant, giving insight into the environment that led to Bojack’s own personal issues. Similarly, “Free Churro” takes the viewer out of the hustle and bustle of the city and depicts Bojack’s eulogy next to his mother’s casket, giving heartbreaking insight into his tumultuous relationship with his parental figure. It’s well worth the accolades—Arnett has already received an Annie Award for his performance in the episode.
It’s clear that Bojack is overdue for an Emmy—let alone additional nominations—and its creators believe that as well. A few weeks back, the show’s official Twitter page requested its followers to photoshop For Your Consideration billboards to support its candidacy for the award, a playful take on the meta self–awareness of the program. The critics, the fans, and the authors of the work are all clamoring for the premier honor in its television genre. The Emmys should listen.