BoJack Horseman Review: “Prickly-Muffin”

(Episode 1.03)

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<i>BoJack Horseman</i> Review: &#8220;Prickly-Muffin&#8221;

Were Lindsay Lohan a cartoon, she’d be the spitting image of Sarah Lynn. 

Sarah— an avatar of child actors’ tendencies to rapidly deteriorate— is at the center of BoJack Horseman’s third episode. A former co-star on BoJack’s 90s sitcom Horsin’ Around, Sarah (voiced by Kristen Schaal) has experienced first-hand the perils of growing up in Hollywood: she has endured DWIs and unflattering paparazzi snapshots, auto-tuned pop songs and a messy breakup with Andrew Garfield. 

The genesis of Sarah’s misconduct, we learn, is BoJack. During a telling a flashback to the set of Horsin’ Around, BoJack projects his own insecurity onto an impressionable Sarah, sowing the seeds for future impropriety. “Without [your fans], you’re nothing. You gotta give the people what they want… you don’t stop dancing,” he exhorts.

And when a weary, drug-addled Sarah appears on BoJack’s doorstep 24 years later, so begins “Prickly-Muffin,” a half-hour tale of botched atonement at the hands (hooves?) of BoJack.

Sarah quickly identifies BoJack as an easily-manipulated host. BoJack, without much protest, accepts her imposition. His motivation is complex: it’s part-guilt for fueling her corruption, part-desire to relive their 90s fame, and part-attraction to her bawdy charm.

Predictably, the two enter a downward spiral in tandem, a plot device that serves as the episode’s second act, and yields some funny moments, too. But the episode’s capstone joke nearly flies under the radar: Todd mistakenly treads on a needle during a drunken bash, accidentally kicking off a heroin addiction. 

Before the conclusion, BoJack and Sarah consummate their toxic relationship on the living room floor, with Todd playing the part of horrified spectator. Rather than wrapping up the half-hour neatly, however, we learn a few avian paparazzi have snapped photos of the fling. It’s intrigue that promises to bleed into the next episode—as BoJack aptly says, “If this got out, I would get flayed.” 

Schaal sparkles as Sarah throughout “Prickly-Muffin,” lending a manic performance. Whether guzzling prescription pills or intentionally wounding herself with a bayonet, her voice acting is a treat.

The episode also presents a handful of witty gags, including digs at hipsters, Adam Levine and The New Yorker. But a few otherwise witty jokes deflate when the writers underestimate viewers’ intelligence. Sarah’s old paramour Andrew Garfield, for example, loves lasagna and hates Mondays—a clever jape if delivered subtly. But instead, Todd bludgeons home the punchline: “Andrew Garfield loves lasagna,” he stresses, superfluously. Give us some credit, BoJack.

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