“Of course the first time BoJack falls for a woman his age, she’s actually a stunted twenty year-old.”
After going to some seriously dark places in the season premiere, “Yesterdayland” doesn’t aim quite as high, and so it naturally doesn’t hit quite the same heights. Some of this has to do with the fact that it devotes a lot of energy to a Todd subplot, which is traditionally the series’ weakest point. It’s not anything to do with Aaron Paul’s performance, which hits all the right naïve notes, but rather the fact that Todd really doesn’t have as firm a place on this show as the other regulars. He is, as we see in the string of pointed flashbacks, a very amusing distraction that is nonetheless easily ignored.
The saving graces of Todd’s funhouse mirror version of Disneyland are that a) the show is aware of exactly how dumb it is, and b) Todd’s completely charming friendship with his fellow idiot savant, Mr. Peanutbutter. Their bonding late last season gave both characters more drive than Todd’s rock opera or even Diane ever did. Somehow, it’s even just endearing that they somehow make each other even dumber, to borrow BoJack’s words. Both Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter are oblivious optimists who will always assume someone is laughing with them rather than at them. It helps that Paul and Paul F. Tompkins bounce so well off each other, both booming bigger and bigger to match their characters’ nonsensical dreams. Also, Mr. Peanutbutter looks damn good swinging from sparking cables and catapulting over grease fires to save his damsel in distress—who will never be Diane, let’s just be real.
Speaking of Diane, the frustrated writer has had very little to do so far this season, both in terms of her life and as a character. She may even just be the most stuck of anyone in the cast right now, a fact she has to confront when the Secretariat director (Maria Bamford) delivers a truly chilling speech about when people stop growing. (Hint: never get famous and/or married.) Diane is caught between her dream of trying new and important things and instinct to stay with what’s comfortable, like Mr. Peanutbutter, Secretariat, and eighty Storky’s sandwiches.
Bojack, meanwhile, is trying to get himself out of the rut he so often finds himself wallowing in by dating around, but it turns out that his book has earned him sycophantic groupies rather than dates. The opening montage of disastrous dates is great even just on a visual level, between the sight gag of changing restaurants once a girl realizes she’s at the restaurant he bought in the book and the brilliant animation of all these women and hybrid animal-women. Eventually, he ends up in the Valley, “where nobody knows your name” (some expert LA shade). He then runs into Wanda, a network development executive who only got hired out recently once she came out of a 30-year coma (some expert network TV shade).
Lisa Kudrow, who has built a career on characters that effortlessly blend confidence and cluelessness, is yet another one of BoJack‘s perfect casting choices. She is warm but firm, open but unwilling to put up with much of BoJack’s shit. Wanda also represents an interesting intersection for BoJack. Her immediate appeal for BoJack comes from him actively trying to avoid girls who want him for his fame, which is a refreshing change of pace. “No need to dwell on the past” is a real thing he says, which would have felt impossible last season as he padded around his house slurring Horsin’ Around storylines at Todd. But Wanda is also stuck in a past decade, albeit more in a more literal way than BoJack ever was, and his attraction to her speaks to both her lack of interest in his celebrity and his instinct to live in the past. Maybe the two of them can move forward out of their stunted growth once they move in together, but for now, they’re holding onto each other while everything else burns down around them—literally, thanks to Todd’s nightmare amusement park.
Ominous metaphors aside, this is a much more blatant and sillier episode than the last, again thanks to Todd’s nightmare amusement park and Joel McHale’s turn as another coma survivor slash KGB operative. Writer Peter A. Knight also packs in some of the show’s dumbest and most delightful puns ever. For one, Wanda the coma survivor slash owl is constantly asking for clarification with, “who?” Elsewhere, Brando the marlin is a diner waiter who calls out an order for “STELLA!!!” McHale’s character brings out a whole mess of deliberately dated jokes, which are funny, but rarely more than surface level nostalgia. Still, he gets get in a good moment at the very end of the episode as he admires Todd’s self-destructive theme park and realizes that he doesn’t have to bomb capitalist symbols after all, because “capitalism will eat itself!”
The best “boy, things have changed!” joke is still Wanda’s. In a quick montage, she’s giving a presentation of possible show ideas to a roomful of executives that includes Pinky Penguin (Patton Oswalt), who recently jumped from the sinking ship of publishing to the sinking ship of network development (another round of pointed shade at networks from this Netflix comedy). She pitches what Pink calls “some really fresh ideas.” There’s The Kirk Cameron Show, Hey I Think You Can Dance, and then, finally, she goes outside the box:
Wanda: Okay, what if we got relevant superstar David Copperfield to make the World Trade Center disappear?
[long, incredibly awkward silence]
Pinky: Uh, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but…David Copperfield isn’t really a big draw anymore.
It’s brutal, it’s jarring, it’s depressing, and it made me spit coffee. It’s exactly the kind of joke BoJack excels at, give or take a pun or sight gag.
- Here is daily reminder to keep big spoilers out of the comments if you’ve watched ahead, thank you!
- On the cover of “It’s 2012!” magazine: the guy who was in “Gangnam Style.”
- On the cover of “It’s 2015!” magazine: “Is this dress blue or gold?” with a picture of a red and green dress.
- “I realize that by saying ‘what’ I might set off a chain of events that continues this conversation, but: what?!”
- “Oh my god, are you Todd?! Shut up, Todd!” “Aw. Okay.”
- Spinoff request: Todd’s worker bees, buzzing off and saving the Queen in dramatic anime fashion.
- Today in Hollywoo signs: