Today marks two years since the day I was at my lowest. To celebrate how far I’ve come, I thought I would post my previously unpublished piece about the BoJack Horseman and Good Place series finales. I wrote it in January, back when they first aired, so the timing language won’t be relevant anymore. Obviously, spoiler warning for the endings of those shows.
BoJack Horseman and The Good Place, two of the best shows on television, shuttered their doors this week. And since life has a way of providing a touch of serendipity, they used doors to convey the finality of death, something each show grappled with explicitly.
I watched BoJack first. I always watch BoJack first. Those who are fans of BoJack already know that each season the most gut-wrenching episode is the second-to-last, leaving the viewers to really revel in the wreckage left behind during the finale. This season’s penultimate episode focused on BoJack reckoning with his own impending doom, living inside a hallucination with the people he once knew who have since passed. It is all the usual existential-depression-ennui-BoJack style writing, and then Secretariat steps on stage.
As he explains his thoughts after jumping off that bridge back in season 2, he keeps getting cut off by a door filled with black space, or is it goo, or is it tar? He grows increasingly desperate as he realizes he changed his mind, he wants to take it back, he hadn’t thought it through. The door surrounds his frame as Herb Kazzaz grabs him by the arm and tells him: “Find your peace, big guy. Find it.”
I have been told I have a very good memory, like it is a desirable trait. It has been less than two years since I almost jumped out of a hotel window in Medford, Oregon. I can remember the green comforters; feel the wood of the sill under my fingertips. I have relived the math that I did in my head countless times. I can rebuild the set of that room in my mind. When I shut my eyes, I still see my view from halfway down.
Secretariat is not calmed by Herb’s words. With a jerk, he falls back through the door and disappears, like a magic trick. Ripped from the world without even a hole to show for it. Sarah Lynn, Beatrice and Crackerjack Sugarman, and Herb Kazzaz were all swallowed by the black eventually, each with differing amounts of willingness. The episode closes on BoJack speaking to Diane over the phone, where he asks what there is left to do. When Diane responds that it doesn’t matter, he does the only thing he can – he asks for connection. He says: “Well if it doesn’t matter, can I stay on the phone with you at least?” He is eventually swallowed by the darkness as well, but he was not as alone as he feared he would be.
My reaction to this was delayed, at best. The way the finale wraps up the show was pitch perfect, and help calm the throbbing memories in my head. But like any almost-healed injury, I noticed it again when things got quiet. Later, it was suddenly at the forefront of my mind. I wrote “the view from halfway down” over and over in the hopes that the repetition would kill their power. And it did, to an extent, but not completely. I think I have always been scared that there is a large black door waiting behind me that I am ignoring, and one day, it will surround my frame too. It’s hard to know until you are looking directly into it, and at that point, you have waited too long. It’s hard to know. It’s hard to know.
Enter: The Good Place. The Gang solves the afterlife by providing a new, test-based path to the Good Place, where all your dreams come true. And then after all your dreams have come true, you can leave through a door, or is it an archway, or is it a tree? Afterwards, you will cease to exist. This is a completely optional step, and inevitably, each member decides to walk through it on their own time. In BoJack, the journeys through the door were tinged with fear, hopelessness, and injustice, but now the journeys are comprised of only love. Where BoJack’s door stole life, The Good Place’s honored it.
For the past three or so months, I feel like I have been wading through tar, grabbing onto every available branch that is extended to me. These branches have come in many forms – friends, family, school, the podcast, a routine – but I do not think there has been a moment where I have stood still and waited to see if I would actually sink. I have been thriving in apathy. I may feel stress when work piles up and day to day moments may make me smile, but there have rarely been moments of pure emotion for me to lean on. Specifically, I cannot remember the last time I have cried. That streak was finally broken, but not by the fear of BoJack’s door. It started on the bridge in Paris where Chidi told Eleanor he had to leave and continued until he finally stepped through. There was so much love, understanding, hope, and uncertainty involved in The Good Place’s finale, and it touched a part of me that I have had difficulty reaching recently. I am grateful to be reminded of where it is again.
These two shows have meant a great deal to me. Often times they have functioned as touchstones, as moments of respite to reflect on where I once was, where I am now, where do I want to be next? Losing these shows feels like losing my center, and I missed them the minute they ended. Herb Kazzaz said it best: “There is no other side, this is it.” Things end. We take the gifts we are handed and we are grateful for them. The one-two punch of these finales lit a spark in me I do not often feel, and it was a gift, and I am grateful. Thank you.