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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

BoJack Horseman: “Chickens”

Illustration for article titled BoJack Horseman: “Chickens”
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“We know the chicken crossed the road…the real question is, why?”

Is there anything more madcap than a mission to save a runaway chicken? And is there any better character to go for such a thing than Todd, keeper of the bizarre side plots? Really, the most surprising thing about the entire slapstick affair is that Todd ends up sharing this particular misadventure with Diane, of all people. Sending these two off on a wild goose chicken chase is an unexpected but effective choice. Both characters have been wallowing around, and while Diane’s existential crisis has always been more overt, Todd’s been starting to feel more of the backhanded burn that comes with being a constant burnout. Just this season, he’s tried to make his own Disneyland and be a more confident version of himself that still got pulverized by a single snarky aside from BoJack. It’s always been part of the joke that Todd does his own thing, but “Chickens” lets him lead the A-plot—so it’s fitting that this is the most blatantly weird A-plot the series has done to date.

After making some throwaway jokes like a bovine diner waitress giving a customer attitude for ordering a burger, “Chickens” tackles the whole issue of animals eating animals head-on with competing chicken slaughterhouses. One service the fried chicken fast food chain “CHICKEN 4 DAYS” and the other is a supposedly humane joint in the idyllic countryside that is headed up by chickens. The Gentle Farms commercial acknowledges how twisted a chicken slaughterhouse owned by chickens sounds by detailing the process of raising “food chickens” with hormone injections, or something, which the voiceover (by delightful comedian Ron Funches) promises means there is “no moral grey area” to worry about.

But okay, if I had some questions after Mr. Peanutbutter admitting that he’s “an old dog” in the last episode, now I really have some questions about BoJack Horseman’s reality. Chickens are chicken people, unless they’re food chickens? And who’s deciding which eggs to pump with hormones, and wait—what? I really never imagined that BoJack would address this conflict at all seriously, and I sincerely doubt it’ll go much further beyond that “no moral grey area” joke. Any more prodding at the central conceit here would probably make this world collapse in on itself. Still, there’s quite literally no other show that would bring up these kinds of questions, so for now, I’ll just push the more disturbing implications of BoJack’s world off to one side and enjoy my fried chicken sludge.

Elsewhere, BoJack tries to get his director’s approval. This would feel like a holdover from early on in the first season if it weren’t for Kelsey’s acidic disdain. Even her panic about her missing daughter takes the form of a deadpan, which Maria Bamford unleashes on devastating lines like, “Great story. You should put it in a podcast so I can unsubscribe” before barreling on to the next sick burn. (Also in the sick burn category: Meow Meow Fuzzyface assuring Kelsey that they’ll bring her daughter back dead or alive because, “we’re the LAPD. We’ll probably make the right call.”)

Joanna Calo’s script for “Chickens” is quick and packed with jokes, but by the episode’s end, most of them are cut from the same aggressively self-aware cloth. It becomes easy to see the direction of just about every joke, which is a little disappointing, because the meta touches are really fun before that saturation point. Mr. Peanutbutter ditches Todd and suggests that he “go on one of [his] silly Todd adventures” that he has when no one else is around. Officer Meow Meow Fuzzyface (Cedric Yarborough) is determined to crack the case of the missing chicken until his cop co-workers (including commanding officer Khandi Alexander) get into a debate about which one of them is a loose cannon and/or the one with nothing to lose. The ensuing argument is brilliant, especially as the animation apes the shaky camera and random close-ups of a traditional cop-show. Everyone’s aggressive self-awareness is old, though, by the time BoJack gives a stuttering speech about how he’s certainly not going after Kelsey’s approval because he needs validation from an authority figure to prove his parents wrong. Unfortunately, it’s less because the joke isn’t sharp than just the fact that the joke’s already been made.


So ultimately, the most effective jokes in “Chickens” are the ones that come out of left field, and since this is an episode about slackers saving a runaway chicken, there are plenty. I’ll take a pitch perfect cop parody any day, but something like Todd fooling Officer Meow Meow by pulling out all the words that resemble a chicken’s “bawk” had me on the floor, because it comes out of nowhere. The chicken’s his wife, Becca. Her favorite Baroque composer is Bach (and not Vivaldi, she’s crazy). If anyone asks, she’s the publicist for Kings of Leon, but yes, she can “book Beck” if she wants. It’s a supremely dumb run that made me laugh so hard I thought my face might fall off. Even if Todd’s still not sure what his purpose is, and even if nothing they did mattered because BoJack saved the day by calling Drew Barrymore, at least we’ll always have Becca.

Stray observations:

  • [No spoilers in the comments etcetera you get it.]
  • Amy Schumer makes a very good too cool teen girl (“Irving”): “I’ll go to Brown, then Yale Law, then become the youngest ever Supreme Court Justice. Or, you know, something in marketing.”
  • Another great Maria Bamford run: Kelsey panicking that she’ll have to direct indie darlings starring “lesbians learning how to recycle.”
  • My favorite “bawk” joke, purely thanks to Aaron Paul’s delivery: “Where would you like to sit, Becca? Front or back?” “Bawk!” “AND WHY NOT.”
  • Missed Princess Carolyn, but her sporadic check-ins from her dumb niece’s wedding were spectacular if only for her godawful bridesmaid feathered top hat.
  • “You think Drew Barrymore doesn’t have a frolicking meadow?!”
  • Today in Hollywoo signs:
Illustration for article titled BoJack Horseman: “Chickens”