Netflix has changed how we watch television in many ways.
Thanks to addicting shows like “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” which are put out all at once, Netflix can be thanked for introducing binge-watching to the world.
While some people think binge watching might not be healthy for you, Netflix has also had an undeniably positive influence on comedy. That is most evident in its animated series “BoJack Horseman,” which is almost impossible to picture on any traditional network.
“BoJack” is filled to the brim with background jokes. It is the kind of show where you have to pay attention to multiple parts of the screen at once. Sure, the dialogue and situations are all funny, but blink and you’ll miss a hilarious sign or t-shirt somebody is wearing.
Netflix makes this all possible.
“Because you can watch things over and over again on Netflix, with that model of show watching, I want people to want to go back and pause and rewatch everything to catch all the background gags.” Co-Producer and Production Designer Lisa Hanawalt said in an interview with Business Insider. “It’s really just a way of fleshing out everything in the show.”
While another of Netflix’s original comedies, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” was originally made for network television, “BoJack Horseman” was really sculpted to accommodate binge-watching viewers.
“Yeah, I mean we really did design it for Netflix. It would be a really different show if it was on a regular TV channel.” Hanawalt said.
The “Netflix model” can have its challenges. For a drama, it is hard to talk about all the twists when everybody is watching it at a different pace. However, it finally means people are watching comedies from beginning to end in order, making it better to tell a story, and easier to cram in more jokes.
Because it is streaming, “BoJack” has been able to take a lot of creative risks.
“I’ve seen criticisms of not just our show but of other Netflix shows as well. They’re saying, ‘oh, you know, if this was on a week-to-week schedule it wouldn’t work. And well, it’s not on a week-to-week schedule. That’s the point.”Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg told Business Insider.
“It’s a different way to watch television, and a different way to make television. We definitely write towards that and the way we think about our season arcs and the way we kind of push things forward. My thinking is, if people are gonna watch these episodes in order, we don’t have to re-establish things all the time. We don’t have to repeat ourselves the way other shows would have to.”
All of this allows for the kind of jokes that you might miss the first time around.
“There’s no reason to kind of do the same thing twice because, you know, if people want to watch episode five again, then they can go back and watch episode five.” Waksberg said.
Those who do go back and rewatch will be rewarded with even bigger laughs. There are some running jokes such as Vincent Adultman, that are pretty clear. Then there are others you might not spot right away.
In this one scene, you were likely paying attention to BoJack (Will Arnett) and Todd (Aaron Paul) fighting:
In the background is the site of a crocodile wearing Crocs, which is just one of the show’s many elaborate animal-based visual puns.
Here’s another densely packed shot:
In just this shot alone, you see Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) using a bone as a coffee stirrer. Meanwhile, there is one crew member in the background wearing a “Misprints” shirt, a play on the band Misfits.
Meanwhile, another crew member wears a shirt that says “I’m A Zelda,” which refers to a debate over two characters from the show within the show called “Mr. Peanutbutter’s House.”
This model has allowed the writers to look at the show’s story overall and make sure that it is constantly changing.
“…when we started work on season two there were jokes that we would pitch and we’d think, ‘you know, that really sounds like a season one joke…season two BoJack wouldn’t say that.’ Things are shifting. Things are changing. I think that definitely comes from working on the Netflix model and thinking about that.” Waksberg said.
The complete second season of “BoJack Horseman” will be available on Netflix Friday, July 17.
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