Back in the ’90s, he was on a very famous TV show.
And now he’s back, trying to recount his life, revive his career, and maybe redeem himself in the process.
If you haven’t see BoJack Horseman, the Netflix animated show streaming in full right now, go treat yourself to a Hollywood celebrity satire mixed with deeply intelligent, emotional storytelling. And the weirdness of a million animal-specific gags, and the bestiality-that-isn’t that goes way beyond Family Guy.
Boy Meets World has a sequel, DC Comics is run by ’90s Marvel figures including Jim Lee and Bob Harras, and the music kids from that time rule the pop charts of today. One of them is Grouplove, which has Jane’s Addiction all over its DNA, and wrote the closing theme song to BoJack Horseman.
What I do miss about ’90s pop culture, though, was how many black faces came crashing their way into it. In the music world, a golden age of rap was under way with the East Coast power, the West Coast uprising, and the Dirty South by decade’s end: Wu Tang Clan, Biggie Smalls, Tupac, Digital Underground, Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Trick Daddy, Trina. Wow.
With Living Single, we had not only a black version of the Designing Women/Golden Girls model, but such a wide range of black femininity represented. The go-getter, hip-hop journalist; the dorky loser-woman trying to be an actress; the label-conscious, man-eating social climber; and the avarice-driven attorney who was a slob but also a tiger in the sack.
As for drama, we also had Homicide: Life on the Street. For a show with tons of good character actors, Yaphet Kotto and Andre Braugher still stood out in that multicultural cast. Braugher’s portrayal of Det. Frank Pemberton, a role that wasn’t written with a black man in mind, made me want to do acting. Plus, Pemberton was a black Catholic, like me.
In these shows, characters of color as little more than sounding boards or functionaries, if they appear at all, such as The Knick, Girls, Hell on Wheels, True Detective, Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Or, in Scandal, Sleepy Hollow and The Walking Dead, black women are near-superhuman in their mental strength and are called upon to save everyone.
The Bridge stands out as a bilingual noir featuring characters of increasing complexity and a situation with no winners or heroes. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has two of the best black male characters on network TV, albeit as part of a very diverse cast.
ABC this fall appears to be picking up the slack in trying out shows starring people of color or featuring high-POC casts. Black-ish,the first network-TV black family sitcom in eight years, and the Mexican-American Cristela. And for Asians, Selfie starring John Cho as a romantic lead (!) and Fresh Off The Boat. ABC hasn’t doubled down on racial diversity this hard since … what do you know, the ’90s!
As BoJack says: Neigh way, Jose!