Folks, I’ve been waiting in anticipation for this day for some time. Netflix is releasing no less three shows I’ve been eagerly awaiting, and with good reason, given their pedigree.
The critical crown jewel is BoJack Horseman season five. Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s wacky comedy about Hollywood and talking animals / searing and heartbreaking look at depression has continually been one of the best shows on television since its debut. Season four added some new wrinkles, in particular with BoJack dealing with some of the family issues he’d long tried to bury, including a mother with dementia and meeting a previously unknown family member. Still, season four ended with one of the most optimistic, positive notes the show has ever let itself have (well, at least since the season two finale), so season five promised some positive growth and relationship-building as BoJack tries to get himself out of the hole he’s dug through his depression. Oh, and of course, it’s still a comedy set in Hollywoo
d where anthropomorphic animals behave like and interact with humans.
Not appearing on my Best of 2017 list, but only due to my own fault, is American Vandal. The mockumentary that takes the piss out of true-crime stories like Serial, The Jinx, and Making a Murderer by making the crime a juvenile prank featuring high school kids is back for season two, with a new crime, new school, and an (almost entirely) all-new cast. Season one didn’t make my best-of list at the time because I hadn’t seen it when I wrote the list, but its pitch-perfect satire of the form; sheer hilariousness; impressively accurate depiction of the social dynamics and feel of high school; as well as being so legitimately well-crafted with its twists, cliffhangers, and resolution that I ended up watching the entire season in one night; would have easily earned it a spot on the list up there with BoJack, GLOW, and the rest of the best of Netflix’s original output. I’ve been even more excited for its return than I have been for BoJack, honestly.
The third release– and the one that’s been much more in the news this week– is Norm Macdonald’s return to television(-ish), Norm Macdonald Has a Show. While Norm’s career arguably peaked with his stint as Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update anchor (still the best to ever sit in the chair, in my opinion), he’s had a number of projects since then, from movies (Dirty Work, Screwed) to TV shows (Norm, A Minute With Stan Hooper, Sports Show with Norm Macdonald), to standup specials (Me Doing Stand-Up, Hitler’s Dog: Gossip and Trickery), to a book (Based on a True Story), to being the best talk show guest of all time.
Norm Macdonald Has a Show, with its series of interviews and attempts to avoid topical material, promises to be a bit more like Norm Macdonald Live, his YouTube podcast– he’s even bringing his co-host / trusty sidekick, Adam Eget, along for this one as well– although probably less lengthy. (And unfortunately, we probably won’t get Norm repeatedly botching promos for the ManGrate.)
Of course, Norm’s been in the news after his controversial comments regarding Roseanne Barr and Louis CK (two of his longest friends in show business: Barr gave him his first writing job and CK wrote the foreword to his book) in his Hollywood Reporter interview. He’s since issued what I thought was a well-written and sincere apology; while I won’t defend those initial comments, I will say I can understand how someone’s first instinct is to look at an issue from the perspective of how it’s affected their close friends. (That’s pretty symptomatic of the bubble a lot of celebrities live in, but that’s a broader topic than I have space for here.) Mostly, I think of Norm Macdonald’s line, “People today say comics are like modern-day philosophers. I think that’s really insulting to modern-day philosophers,” and wonder if maybe we should stop asking comedians, especially older ones who don’t seem to know what they’re talking about, for their insights on social movements. Anyway, I’m still going to watch because I think Norm is one of the most legitimately and preternaturally funny human beings alive, and I’m more forgiving of people saying stupid, thoughtless things than I am of the conduct said stupid, thoughtless things were referring to.
BoJack Horseman season five, American Vandal season two, and Norm Macdonald Has a Show season one are all streaming on Netflix now.