Raphael Bob-Waksberg, creator of the Netflix exclusive animated series “BoJack Horseman,” admits his title character, an anthropomorphic horse who is also a washed-up 90s sitcom actor, isn’t someone he’d like to spend any time with if given the opportunity.
“I don’t think the two of us would get along very well,” Waksberg, 30, said. “He’d be a real pill to be around. I don’t think he would make for a very good friend.”
BoJack is voiced by actor Will Arnett (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”). Other main characters on the show are Princess Carolyn (voiced by Amy Sedaris), an anthropomorphic Persian cat, Mr. Peanutbutter (voiced by Paul F. Tompkins), an anthropomorphic Labrador Retriever, and Todd Chavez (voiced by Aaron Paul), an unemployed slacker who lives with BoJack and does absolutely nothing.
“BoJack Horseman” was released on Netflix on Aug. 22. Soon after, it was picked up for a second season. During our interview, Waksberg talked to me about why he considers his show nontraditional storytelling for an animated series and why it’s nothing like one of his favorite 90s sitcoms “Full House.”
What were you thinking when Netflix let you know they already wanted a second season of the show?
It was great. I love that we’re going to be able to keep doing what we love doing. We’re already writing Season 2 and coming up with ideas. We really didn’t have to wait at all. (Laughs) We finished Season 1 and now we’re back to work!
What gap in the world of adult animated series do you think a show like “BoJack Horseman” is filling that Fox and Adult Swim are not?
It’s all about the binge-watching model. All the episodes are released at once. It allows us to tell more long-form stories than we could on a show that aired on a weekly basis. With Netflix, everyone watches the show in order. You can only accidentally tune into Episode 6. You can tell a whole story in 12 episodes and not have to worry that in Episode 7, you have to reintroduce all the characters so the audience knows who they are. We have stories that we set up in Episode 4 that pay off in Episode 9. We can tell longer stories in this series than people aren’t used to seeing in animation. Traditionally in animation, there is a hard reset after every episode. We work against that in a fun way. If a piece of furniture gets burned in Episode 3, that piece of furniture is going to be burned all season. You see a lot more of the consequences of characters’ actions. I think that’s a fresh take for animation.
Are you a proponent of binge watching shows? You can knock out the whole first season of “BoJack” in one weekend, sure, but you’re going to have to wait quite a while for new episodes.
Well, everyone can watch on their own schedules. I’m not going to tell anyone they have to watch all 12 right away. You can watch one a week if you want. You can watch six now and wait a few weeks and watch the other six. I’ve been reading tweets from fans that say they’ve watched the show seven times already, which is kind of crazy, but great! So, yeah, there are a lot of jokes people will get in the second or third or fourth time through. So, if you watch them all now and don’t want to have to wait a year for the second season, watch them again! If a year passes and you’ve forgotten everything that happened in Season 1, watch it again before you watch Season 2. I think it’ll hold up.
Are you like BoJack in any way? Is there something in your past that you like to relive over and over again?
(Laughs) I think I’m like BoJack in certain ways. I don’t think I have that one thing like he has with his show that’s like my glory days. I’m very weary of nostalgia in my own life. I try not to be too precious about my past. I like to look forward and keep moving forward. BoJack is trying to look forward but is very much stuck in the past. There are other similarities I have to BoJack that are maybe not so flattering to myself.
Speaking of nostalgia, you made it pretty clear in an interview you gave Rolling Stone recently that “Full House” is your favorite sitcom of all time. If I remember correctly, they asked you to name the 10 best sitcom characters of all time and you named 8 or 9 characters from “Full House.” I’m sure you were being a little facetious when you answered that question, but I still want to know: what is your favorite episode of that show?
(Laughs) Yeah, it was tongue and cheek. What is my favorite episode of “Full House?” That is a good question. Off the top of my head, I would say it’s the episode where D.J. goes to audition for a cereal commercial and Stephanie ends up getting the part instead even though she was just sitting in the waiting room. I really like the dynamic of the sister characters. I had two sisters growing up, so I definitely felt that push and pull of trying to be your own person, but also competing with the people you love.
You never thought about ending every “BoJack Horseman” episode with all the characters learning a life lesson like in “Full House?”
(Laughs) Yeah, “BoJack” is definitely not one of those shows. “Horsin’ Around” is by design. In “BoJack,” you don’t get those lessons or that closure. I think we’re sort of trained by TV that if we do what’s right then good things will happen and everything will work out by the end of a 30 minute show. Well, the truth is, it’s not always what happens. “BoJack” is a show that really resists the idea of endings. There are no such things as happy or sad endings because life just keeps going. You can’t just say, “Alright! I’ve figured it out! Things are fine now!” Things keep going.
You had some amazing voice work for the first season – Stephen Colbert, Olivia Wilde, Anjelica Huston, just to name a few. Are you looking to top that for the next season?
You know, Linda Lamontagne is our casting director and she’s incredible. She always knows who is looking to work with us and who we can ask. We had an amazing murder’s row in Season 1, so hopefully we’ll keep that going for Season 2. I’m always surprised when I write a script and someone goes, “Well, what about Anjelica Huston?” It’s pretty cool. It’s a fun show to work on. There is a fun energy on the set. I think for a lot of these big actors it feels like a treat.