Now that Bojack is relevant again, he finds dating more tedious than ever – even with the promise of sex. Everywhere he goes he is recognised by strangers who feel awkwardly intimate with him, given the success of his tell-all book. Bojack retreats to the Valley, where he meets Wanda Pierce (Lisa Kudrow) – a TV-executive who has conveniently been in a coma for the last 30 years. Bojack is instantly smitten. The two start dating and Bojack enjoys the simplicity of their relationship. Everything seems to be looking up until Wanda happens to meet a man who also has been in a coma for the last 30 years. The only catch is that he is a KGB sleeper agent from the Cold War. Bojack becomes jealous and begins the well worn process of pushing Wanda away. In other news, Todd opens a new theme park called “Disneyland” (not to be confused with “Diisneyland”) and Diane begins to wonder whether her life has grown stagnant.
Yesterdayland takes us back to a few familiar places: Disneyland, the 80s and Bojack’s inability to form and maintain real connections with other people. Sadly, in relation to the latter, it felt slightly repetitive. From what we gleamed in season 1, Bojack’s adult life is spent forcibly forging friendships, only to enter into a cycle of destroying and desperately rebuilding them. He tries so hard that he can’t relax in his relationships, and ends up self-destructing. It’s the classic Bojack back and forth. But I don’t think Yesterdayland added anything new to this schtick, and yes, at this point it is a bit of a trope. I understand that, as director, Kelsey Jannings (Maria Bamford), pointed out, Bojack essentially has the emotional intelligence of a 20 year old. So, to get technical, it does make sense to have Bojack facing these problems over and over again. What felt old was the in your face explanation of it. We don’t need Princess Carolyn to play the exposition character. And we didn’t need Bojack to repeat what she said verbatim 10 minutes later. The concept of the emotionally-unavailable-man-child-who-is-grappling-with-the-idea-of-a-healthy-relationship is not an abstract concept anymore. We get it. However, I do have to admit that maybe Bojack did display the teensiest bit of character development this episode. He does admit his flaws to Wanda in a rational manner, instead of ending their relationship in a fiery blaze. But again, Wanda is another form of Bojack’s repression. Try as he might, Bojack’s fame and cultural significance is an important part of who he is. He has let it be. How will Wanda understand his depression, his relationship with Diane and the importance of Secretariat without context? Maybe Bojack isn’t like all the other celebrities. But he isn’t above the effect of fame.
I doubt Bojack truly believes in the concept of “the one”, but Diane is probably close to it. She is one of the few people in Hollywoo who can be empathetic to Bojack but is still down to earth. Princess Carolyn is another one, but Princess Carolyn realised that Bojack will never get his shit together long ago. So now we are back – with Bojack making a monumental decision (moving in with Wanda), which I am sure he will come to regret, the same way we are slowly watching Diane regret hers (marrying Mr. Peanutbutter).
Yesterdayland proposes that Diane has become stagnant like Bojack. It seems fair, but to be honest, I’m not sure we even know enough about Diane to make a judgment on this. The audience is led to believe that her marriage to Mr. Peanutbutter is one of convenience rather than romance. But to be fair, we’ve only ever seen her relationship in the context of Bojack – who hates Mr. Peanutbutter and loves/loved Diane. As well as this, Diane’s career currently seems unfulfilling. But, we know that Diane will be able to join Sebastian St. Clair (Keegan-Michael Key) on his humanitarian travels soon. As a cynical and intelligent woman, it is very likely that Diane is falling into the trap of overthinking her life. I disagree with Diane’s doubts. I don’t think Diane as a person has grown stagnant. Diane as a character has grown stagnant. Granted, we are only in episode 2 of the new season, but Diane has served as little more than a shell of a girl who can play the role of a sarcastic realist AND somewhat-concerned friend. Look at that – two whole things! I want Diane to grow into something more than just Bojack’s sounding board or a vessel to feed witty lines through. Here’s hoping.
On a lighter note, Todd’s completely ridiculous construction of Disneyland was great. I always enjoy watching what happens at the intersection of total stupidity and ingenuity. There was also a distinct lack of hashtag jokes! Success! On a final note, I have a feeling that Vincent Adultman may be entering puberty – what with his braces and new-found angst. Maybe one day Vincent Adultman will actually be an adultman…
Basically, Yesterdayland provided the laughs but overlooked authentic character development. Most of the “deep” moments were rehashing old turf. It feels like at its roots, this episode was formulaic. Start with absurdist humour. Add Bojack angst. Don’t forget to include a dash of Diane. Season with wordplay. This works well if it is done in balance. Yesterdayland just tried a little too hard.
Bojack Horseman S02E02: 6/10
Don’t look back…except for these:
1. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
2. Everything’s coming up Pinky Penguin
3. Bojack New-Age-Man
4. Vincent Adultman starts to become a Real Adultman
5. Wanda finally gets a reference
6. Like Halley’s comet…
7. That’ll show those pesky capitalist pigs (…and horses and owls and people)