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Cartoon Style: Dressing up to the funnies with Bojack Horseman

suit needs more flasks

By Chrislande Dorcilus

I don’t have cable, so netflix is a constant source of entertainment for me, and combined with the fact that my live-in boyfriend is an aspiring animator, I had no choice but to watch Bojack Horseman when it came out in 2014. I’m the kind of woman-child that watches a whole season of American Dad when I am regenerating from a mild depression just because the characters are paper and their problems are in 2D. So, I instantly fell in love with the talking horse from “Horsin’ Around” and his cohort of eccentric characters from the infamous Hollywoo.

My most favorite thing about the show is the fashion. During her REDDIT AMA Lisa Hanawalt, Bojack Horseman’s character designer, exclaimed,I love drawing crazy animals and weird clothes.” And boy is she great at it! Characters are dressed based on both their personality and geography. There wardrobes are also time and period specific when necessary. You’re probably wondering why that matters. Fashion is important part of rendering a believable imaginary world where women play an active social and political role. As a series that star women comics like Lisa Kudrow and Amy Sedaris (Princess Caroline), Show’s creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg wanted to move away from comedy’s focus on masculinity and maleness to showcase female characters being/doing funny things i.e this lady croc in crocs.

croc in crocs

As fashion is an important part of women’s personal and professional lives, it is important for shows, movies, and even animations to portray not only how they bring us together, but how they divide us. What Sextina Aquafina, the pop star dolphin, can wear on stage is very different than what Princess Caroline, the middle aged talent agent, can pull off–in both the context of the show and society at large.

 

This image is a scene from a funeral. Look at the two female characters. See how their outfit denote their age and personal sensibilities, and notice how that contrast with the drab suits worn by the male characters. It speaks volumes about gender, and self expression. The limits of what constitutes as formality for men are both sobering and sad.

BoJack-Horseman-Still-Broken

Now, check out Princess Caroline’s funeral appropriate cocktail dress with the wide grid mesh shoulders contrasted with Mr. Peanutbutter’s tuxedo tracksuit. It helps to interrogate the freedoms and power dynamics at play when there exists social situations which some people feel complete comfortable dressing informal and other do not. Can’t you just read their power and place in Hollywoo’s social scene? Look at the detail in Henry Winkler’s tie. I gag and die for Hanawalt’s subtlety.

Herb's Funeral PC MR PB

 

Though an animated comedy, Bojack’s story does stand on a very serious foundation that grounds us through important questions about sex, gender, self, friendship, love and even substance abuse. We explore the morality of a deranged horse/man who finds himself in the sticky ambivalence of his fame. This life involves costume changes. From high fashion cocktail events to days spent drinking in Boxers, we become intimate with the character by realizing that they too wear themselves.

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