When Netflix announced yesterday—via a new trailer, full of all the self-deprecating wit, blatant denial, and mostly-funny ennui that fans have come to expect from television’s best show about a very sad horse—that BoJack Horseman would be ending with its upcoming bifurcated sixth season, the general assumption was that the decision was, if not entirely coming down from the show’s creative team, then, at least, mutual. After all, the show’s fifth season ended on a note of its titular drunken equine asshole maybe finally coming to terms with the hard work of being a slightly better person—even if the trailer showed the rest of the people in his life in various states of freefall. And while BoJack has played that “Getting better?” card before, it still felt like a natural turning point toward some kind of organic ending on the part of the show’s creators, an indication that they were thinking about finding a stopping point for all this Horsin’ Around.
But while that may or may not have been the decision the show’s writers would have reached on their own, it also sounds like it ultimately wasn’t their call to make—at least according to a tweet posted yesterday by series star and executive producer Aaron Paul. In the tweet, Paul doesn’t seem to necessarily begrudge his El Camino partners for giving this very strange, wonderful show a home for six years, but he’s also pretty unequivocal about the fact that there was “Nothing we could do about it” when Netflix made the call. According to Paul, this was a one-sided decision: Netflix canceled BoJack. Meanwhile, no one else on the show’s producing team—including series star Will Arnett, and creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg—has commented on where the decision to end the series came from. (Aaron Long, one of the show’s directors, tweeted yesterday “Don’t worry, it’s the last season on purpose!”)
Netflix has picked up a, let’s say, reputation in recent years for its willingness to be a bit heavy-handed when it hands out cancellation orders—including the decision to kill off BoJack designer Lisa Hanawalt’s delightful Tuca & Bertie after only a single season on the air. BoJack itself is something of an outlier in that regard; as the fourth original series the streaming service ever debuted (after Hemlock Grove, House Of Cards, and Orange Is The New Black), it’s now Netflix’s longest running extant series, and will remain such until it posts its final batch of eight episodes next January (after debuting the first eight of the season next month). That being said, there is a weird additional business side to all this; BoJack arrived on Netflix back before the streamer realized how key exclusivity was to maintaining its hold on people’s entertainment dollars, and its contracts reflected that; that’s how it became the only series to ever break out of the service and into syndication (on Comedy Central), and while this is all just speculation, we can’t imagine someone at the company wasn’t at least a little happy to patch that hole.
Anyway, given how well the show’s newest trailer laid down a sense of conclusions being approached—if not actually reached—we’re optimistic that, regardless of whoever made it, the decision to end BoJack doesn’t seem to have caught Bob-Waksberg and his team off-guard. (Despite the notoriously long lead times required by animation.) Ending or not, BoJack is one of Netflix’s most critically beloved, Emmy-nominated shows, and it’s hard to imagine that the streaming service would get in its own self-sabotaging way by screwing up its efforts to stick the landing. After all, what kind of stupid piece of shit would do that?