The first relationship that Princess Carolyn enters into on BoJack Horseman is an obvious farce. Back in Season 1, the titular antihero’s ex-girlfriend and then-agent (voiced by Amy Sedaris) sought respite from one of BoJack’s many selfish schemes by asking a stranger to buy her a drink. When asked for his name, the shadowy figure panicked: “Vincent … Adultman,” he answered. Virtually everyone but Princess Carolyn could see something was amiss: That is, this person was really three children stacked on top of one other, covered by a trench coat. As the gag continued through Season 2, it hinted at some deeper truths: “What does that [joke] say about the lies we tell ourselves to be in a relationship?” the show’s creator, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, said when we spoke last year. Or how can we, when Princess Carolyn and Vincent Adultman break up, “feel a little bad for them even though this whole conceit is very silly?”
Beyond this silly joke, it’s been easy to pity Princess Carolyn during the animated Netflix show’s run. She’s struggled with relationships in general and with BoJack’s hold over her in particular. She’s had a tough time keeping her talent agency afloat, grappling with industry men’s misbehavior, navigating the pitfalls of fertility and, later, adjusting to working motherhood. But now, in the stunning second half of BoJack Horseman’s sixth and final season, Princess Carolyn gets some room to breathe, at last. Among the final episodes’ most satisfying elements is the attention the series pays not just to BoJack (Will Arnett) himself, but also to the two most important women in his life. Princess Carolyn and Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie) each sees her arc bend, tentatively, toward a happy ending. For a series that spent so much of its running time exploring the interiority of one depressed, narcissistic (horse)man, BoJack closes out with a refreshingly broad purview—namely, one that appreciates the show’s leading women as stand-alone characters rather than as mere accessories to the protagonist’s growth.
In this, the series diverges from more classic antihero TV narratives. Where shows such as Breaking Bad, The Newsroom, Mad Men, and The Sopranos ended with shots focused squarely on their tortured male protagonists, BoJack expands the frame—and not only in its final moments. The series, set in Hollywood, has long been self-aware enough to acknowledge the entertainment industry’s tendency to overlook (or insufficiently develop) women characters onscreen. On the ride to Princess Carolyn’s wedding, for example, the preternaturally jovial Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) shares an earnest but comedic confession with BoJack: “I had this breakthrough recently. One day, in therapy, I just blurted out, ‘Is my problem with women any movie directed by Christopher Nolan? Because, yes, women are involved, but it’s never really about the women.’”