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Is there a feminist slant to crude comedy Bojack Horseman?

This past summer, I sat bored in my mother’s apartment, with all my friends all around the country. So, like most other teenagers, I turned to Netflix to be my companion in the early hours of morning. I came across a really strange show. Bojack Horseman. Among my friends and family, I am known for liking off-beat, kind of weird shows and movies, so I started watching Bojack Horseman and enjoyed its crude humor. However, as a student of Literature, I have been trained to never watch or read anything idly. Combined with my feminist beliefs, I began to watch the show through a feminist lens. I quickly came to realize that although the show is not at all politically correct, it does make some very strong feminist arguments and observations through one of the central characters; Diane Nygue.

I relate to Diane in a few ways. She is a writer who lives in Los Angeles and wants to make the world a better place for all. She is the voice of feminism throughout the show, pointing out many interesting aspects and calling out parts of our modern day culture. Diane comes from an Asian background, allowing her feminism to be more inclusive, and able to reach a wider audience. Diane is the object of affection for the main character, Bojack Horseman for whom she is writing a memoir. Rather than many other female characters seen on TV, she does not develop romantic feelings for him nor does she allow him to get away with being rude to her. Rather, she calls out Bojack when he does something unacceptable and makes it very clear to him that she is not interested in pursuing a romance, as she becomes engaged to her boyfriend. In addition, she does not let her boyfriend push her around. Rather, she works with him as a partner and eventually tells him she wants to do charity work and do good for the world.

One very interesting point Diane makes, which inspired this article, was a discussion she and Bojack had during one of their interviews. One of the characters on the show, Sarah Lynn, worked with Bojack on a television program in the 90s and is now an adult, living a very exciting and slightly dangerous lifestyle. Rather than shaming Sarah Lynn, Diane makes a very interesting observation about her, the entertainment industry, and our society as a whole. She points out that yes, Sarah Lynn embraces her sexuality, but she questions the motives as to why. She even questions society as a whole and the patriarchal structure of society, and questions whether it is truly possible to break down what has been engrained into our culture for so long. Is it possible to reclaim sexuality from the male gaze, or is that catering exactly to what the male gaze wants? Is it possible to break free from patriarchal chains, or are we always, in a way, going to be enslaved to the patriarchy? Diane’s questioning is in and of itself progressive feminism because she thinks for herself and does not let the opinions of others sway her. Even when her family teases her for being a woman and about her career, she still maintains a sense of self.

I believe that, as a feminist, you need to have a sense of yourself. You need to know who you are, where you come from, what you have, and how you can help give back to the world around you. I believe that Diane Nyguen perfectly embodies the modern day, thinking feminist who we should all aspire to be. We should all question what we are told and find the answers for ourselves. We should all stand up for what we believe in and chase our dreams even if they turn out to not be what we initially wanted.

[Images Via Netflix]

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Written by Katherine Rendon

Katherine Rendon is a second year student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, pursuing a degree in English and Environmental Studies. When not arguing with people at parties over the importance of feminism and/ or veganism, she can be found reading, binge watching Netflix, at a concert, or tweeting long rants. She doesn't go anywhere without a reusable water bottle and firmly believes that selfies are important.

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