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Reference Humor: Bojack Horseman S1E11 “Downer Ending”

Nothing screams nostalgia like a 90’s sitcom and nothing says pop-culture like a show about a talking horse. Combine the two and you what you get is something unexpected, a dark comedy featuring rampant drug use and nihilistic narcissism. In this edition of Reference Humor, we take a look at one of the earlier episodes of one of my favorite Netflix shows: Bojack Horseman

As always bold numbers represent the time at which the reference happened and Spoilers abound for a wide variety of films. Scroll down at your own risk. Okay, let’s get started.

00:11– Bojack’s publisher is Penguin Publishing and it is run by penguins. Penguin Publishing is a real publishing house that was founded in 1935 (though it is not run by penguins).

0:42-Secretariat was a thoroughbred racehorse who won the triple crown in 1973.

1:40- The Firm is a 1991 legal thriller written by John Grisham.

6:59- The electronics store Bojack is walking out of is called Beast Buy instead of Best Buy.

8:04- Sarah Lynn says Dr. Hu’s drugs are from another dimension a play on the Doctor Who television show which first premiered on the BBC in 1963.

8:27 The characters continue to riff on the phonetic similarity of Dr. Hu and Doctor Who.

8:59 Todd brings up the television show Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman(1993 CBS).

9:07 Sarah Lynn and Dr. Hu say “Third Base” after Todd says “I don’t know” This is a reference to the famous Abbott and Costello comedy routine “Who’s on First” which features a ballplayer named Who who plays first base and a third baseman named I Don’t Know. The bit features a lot of confused wordplay, similar to what the gang was just doing with Dr. Hu and Doctor Who.

9:25- Bojack asks, “So, Gremlin rules?” after Doctor Hu tells him to avoid bright light and getting wet. This is a reference to the 1984 film Gremlins where the main characters are given the same instructions.

9:59-Hulk Hogan was a professional wrestle prominent in the 80’s and 90’s

10:01- Say No To Drugs or Just Say No was a prominent anti-drug campaign in the 90’s

10:25 Another The Firm (1991 novel) reference

11:04- Todd says that the ending of Bojack’s book should be that it was Earth all along. This is the twist ending of the film Planet of the Apes (1968).

11:25 Todd talks backwards in a manner similar to that of the inhabitants of the black lodge from the 1991 television show Twin Peaks. What he says is “I’m talking backwards, Aaron Paul is dead.” Aaron Paul is the name of the actor who voices Todd.

11:50 The idea to just have the story “end up in Maine” makes sense in the context of the show’s narrative but being that they are also working on a book the line could double as a reference to the works of Stephen King who sets many of his stories in fictional towns in Maine. Could just be a coincidence.

15:15- Diane turns into a huge mutant blob during Bojack’s drug trip. This mirrors a scene from the 1988 anime Akira.

15:27 There is a container of Mrs. Beaverworth pancake syrup which is a play on Mrs. Butterworth pancake syrup.

15:44- BoJack runs through a blue synaptic-brain landscape that references the opening sequence of the 1999 film Fight Club

16:05-The diner entirely populated by Mr Peanutbutters who can communicate only by speaking their own name is a straight copy of a scene in Being John Malkovich (1999).

16:49 Bojack is erased by an animator just like Daffy Duck in Duck Amuck (1953).

18:37-During BoJack’s hallucination, he imagines Diane as Lucy at a psychiatric booth. This is a reference to the long-running newspaper comic Peanuts (1950) and its various TV and movie iterations.

18:41 Bojack says “Good Grief” the signature line of Charlie Brown in the Peanuts franchise

19:06 Mr. Peanutbutter as Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s dog in the comic.

21:59- Doctor Who(1963) is referenced again.

22:21 Tori Spelling is an actress best known for her role on Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990).

22:36 “I Believe” t-shirt with a picture of a UFO is a play on the signature catchphrase “I want to believe.” from the 1993 television show The X-Files.

Well, that’s it for this outing. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Abbot and Costello reference. I missed that on my first viewing. Hoped you enjoyed this edition of Reference Humor

As always if you know a reference I missed feel free to leave it in the comments section.

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