TV

My Favorite Scene: ‘BoJack Horseman’ Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg on the Episode That Made Netflix Nervous

by Stacy Lambe 6:30 AM PDT, July 19, 2016
Photo: Netflix

No one loves a great scene more than the person who first dreamed it up -- the writer. We're asking iconic shows' creators and writers to tell ET all about getting to see their most cherished moment on their series make it from script to screen.

Ahead of the return of BoJack Horseman, season three of which premieres on Friday, July 22, on Netflix, creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg opens up about the final moments with Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) in episode 7, “Say Anything,” of season one. (“This is a favorite scene,” Bob-Waksberg clarifies.)

In the episode, Princess Carolyn suffers a day of personal and professional failure as Vigor, the agency where she works and represents BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett), merges with a competing agency run by her rival Vanessa Gekko (Kristin Chenoweth). And on her 40th birthday, she realizes how many of her own dreams she’s sacrificed for BoJack, who remains oblivious to her emotions.

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There have been a few, I guess you'd call them “elevator moments” of the show, where it feels we're kind of shifting into a new gear. This is a big moment for us. This is our first of many downer endings on the show, where we don't end with a laugh. The idea of “Happy Birthday, you are 40” is a joke, but it's a very dark, sad joke. I think this is the moment we as the audience said, “Wait a second. There's more going on here than I thought.”

The whole episode is kind of special in that way, that we're doing this story about Princess Carolyn. It’s the first time we haven’t done an episode from BoJack’s perspective. And it’s the first of many experimental episodes where we try to do different kinds of storytelling. It really kind of launched us off in a much wider idea of what this show could be, or the kind of things the show could do.

What was nice about it is that the show is called BoJack Horseman and ultimately, it's always about BoJack. What’s presented here is a new way to tell a story about BoJack and see his effect on other people. It is Princess Carolyn’s story, but a big chunk of it is about how dedicated and devoted she is to BoJack and how little he appreciates her.

Netflix was originally hesitant about that. There was some debate about how dark this show is. You know, what can this show be? Is it just a comedy? Is it just about BoJack? Originally, there was less of BoJack in it, and one way to sway Netflix is we went back in and we made it much more about BoJack. And we made sure every act ends on a BoJack beat.

Then, we also had this idea that BoJack brings in this cardboard version of himself into Princess Carolyn's office. That was like our subliminal way to make BoJack feel more present in the episode. Even when he wasn't there, there'd be this cardboard cutout of him. It's like a tongue-in-cheek way to attack a note, but it actually does help. I think it does feel like a BoJack episode because BoJack is there in the background saying a Jerry Maguire quote whenever anyone walks by.

But there was also this idea about sadness. Now we're going to take BoJack’s actions seriously and we're going to see how he really hurts Princess Carolyn. Then the question is, “Do we want to do that with our protagonist and show that he's not this fun a**hole that can get away with anything?” People are really rooting for him, and then he f**ks them over and doesn't really appreciate them. Do we want to throw our main character under the bus like that? And I think this show is much better because we decided, “Yes, we do.” This episode holds a special place in my heart for that reason.

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