Stunning new BoJack Horseman intro hints at real change on the horizon

Photo: BoJack Horseman.. Image Courtesy Netflix
Photo: BoJack Horseman.. Image Courtesy Netflix /

While the revamped BoJack Horseman intro may seem dark and troubling at first, the changes actually indicate that healing and hope are possible.

For the first five seasons of BoJack Horseman, the iconic intro sequence remained relatively unchanged. Sure, there were a few tweaks here and there, inspired by the narrative of each season, but generally the through-line was the same. At the start of each episode, we followed anti-hero BoJack as he opened his eyes, shuffled through his day – fueled by coffee and whiskey – and then promptly passed out, surrounded by onlookers including Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter.

Yet, for the final season of BoJack Horseman, the intro sequence has taken an interesting turn. Instead of disconnecting from literally everything that’s going on around him in his present life, BoJack is finally engaging in a meaningful way. And not only is he engaging, he’s engaging with core traumatic memories from his past. Check out the sequence below.

Longtime fans are obviously familiar with these memories. In fact, we’ve lived many of them right alongside BoJack himself. As we peek into BoJack’s memories, we get a glimpse of his old friend Herb Kazazz. He’s healthy and well on the set of Horsin’ Around, and then *poof* we’re standing in Herb’s bedroom, and he’s at death’s door. Flashes of locales that weigh heavily on BoJack’s conscience follow. We fly through a few more memories, briefly stopping in New Mexico, then a crackhouse, and then we revisit his lonely underwater sojourn.

While BoJack’s childhood and his fraught relationship with his mother populate a large percentage of the remainder of his memories, it’s clear that, at present moment, BoJack is haunted most by Sarah Lynn and the destruction he feels he brought to her young life. In fact, she’s present in the very first stark change in the intro. Instead of a bright blue sky in the opening shot, the chaotic swirl of the planetarium where Sarah Lynn died looms over BoJack’s cliffside mansion. The image of a dark and unknowable universe bookends BoJack’s mental journey, finally providing the catalyst for his backward plunge into the pool at the conclusion of the sequence.

BoJack Horseman intro
Photo: BoJack Horseman.. Image Courtesy Netflix /

But guess what? BoJack isn’t drinking. And he’s also not disengaging from his experience anymore. Instead of staring blankly ahead or scowling at his surroundings, BoJack can be seen peeking at the memories and actually reacting to them with real, deeply felt emotions such as shame, guilt, and surprise. Unlike previous intros that had BoJack stuck dissociating from all aspects of his life in the present moment, his willingness to engage with traumatic memories illustrates a level of insight that he’s never demonstrated before. And that’s progress. As a therapist, I do love to see it.

I’ve been a therapist specializing in addiction for over thirteen years now. And I can confidently say that BoJack Horseman is one of the very best shows on TV when it comes to the depiction of addiction and relapse. Throughout the past five and a half seasons, the series has beautifully illustrated that addictive behaviors are a symptom, not a cause of deeper issues. Contrary to popular belief, people (or, um, horses?) like BoJack can’t just “use willpower” to get sober. No. That’s unrealistic. Because addictive behaviors are almost always an indication that something else is wrong. And that “something” is usually unresolved trauma.

The new intro serves as a beacon of hope, indicating that BoJack is finally willing to confront the painful layers of trauma and guilt that have perpetuated his use of maladaptive coping skills such as substance use, avoidance, and lying. Addressing the past is certainly hard, but being able to not only identify but also engage with painful memories is a key part of the healing process. Just by opening himself up to the past, BoJack has indicated that he’s willing to try to learn from his history, and that’s the most important step of all.

Addiction is never just addiction, and BoJack Horseman is excellent at pulling that stereotypical falsehood aside for a peek at the damaged soul within. As much as the previous five seasons chronicled BoJack’s path of destruction, we’ve also seen quiet moments of regret, shame, and attempts at atonement. Now, as the series begins to draw to a close, it’s becoming clear that the show has treated BoJack’s cumulative experience as a path of options not taken. BoJack has so often chafed against altering his status quo, but now, after experiencing – and causing – so much chaos, he might finally be ready for meaningful change.

Can BoJack be redeemed? That probably depends on the eye of the beholder. He’s done some pretty heinous things. But does he deserve a shot at redemption? If the new intro is any indication, I’d argue that the series is advocating for patience, understanding, and hope for a better tomorrow. Who knows? We might just get a happy ending after all.

BoJack Horseman Season 6A is available for streaming on Netflix. The final episodes will drop on January 31st, 2020.