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BoJack Horseman Review: "Chickens"

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<i>BoJack Horseman</i> Review: "Chickens"

You’d think by now BoJack is pretty clear on everyone else’s frustration with his tendency to make every situation about him. But when you’re an actor, there’s probably always more room for self-absorption, and that’s exactly where this episode’s debacle takes us. It all starts when BoJack gets into yet another car wreck, this time because he’s engrossed in an ad playing on his tablet. He and Diane drive off unharmed, leaving a massive pileup of cars in their wake.

Among the wreckage is a truck from Chicken 4 Dayz, the classic evil factory-farm villain of this story. Barely functional from the hormones she’s been given, a dazed chicken stumbles to Mr. Peanutbutter’s doorstep, where Todd is hanging out alone, in need of new purpose in his life. It’s meant to be. The chicken barely has time for a shower before LAPD officer Meow Meow Fuzzyface comes knocking in search of her. In lying to the cop about his “wife,” Todd becomes attached to the chicken, whom he names Becca.

It’s hard to watch Secretariat director Kelsey Jannings (Maria Bamford) task Diane with yet another pointless on-set job: babysitting her comically progressive teenage daughter, Irving (Amy Schumer). In Irving, Diane sees a younger version of herself, ripe with aspirations and potential she feels she was never quite able to realize. And worst of all, her younger self thinks she’s totally lame.

The two swing by Diane’s place to do laundry, but immediately find themselves roped into Todd’s mission to save Becca from capture by the police and certain slaughter at the hands of Chicken 4 Dayz. They disguise Becca in one of Diane’s dresses and set off for Gentle Farms Chicken, a more humane slaughterhouse (if there is such a thing) run by chickens themselves. But it doesn’t feel right for Todd, and moments after his tearful goodbye he wants to return to bust her out. Diane, who is more of a badass than she realizes, dutifully slams on the brakes and vows to help. She, too, is desperately searching for her purpose in life.

But as Diane, Todd and Irving race to free Becca, LAPD and the Gentle Farms owners are hot on their tails. Fending off the owner and his wife, they throw Becca in the car, release the other chickens from the coop and speed off, only to be stopped by Fuzzyface and his partners seconds later.

Back at the police station, BoJack and Kelsey find the handcuffed perpetrators. There’s something to be said for BoJack’s persistence to make friends even as those closest tell him he’s unlikable. He might be self-centered, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t smart, and his lifelong strategy to rely on his own fame works in the end yet again. This time, he helps out by talking his way out of any consequences for the threesome. BoJack also persuades Drew Barrymore to adopt Becca, leaving us wondering for the umpteenth time just what the nature of their friendship is, anyway, and when she might finally appear on the show.

As BoJack promises everyone burritos to celebrate his victory, Kelsey can’t help but face-palm at his raging sense of self-importance. But she did bond with him amid the chaotic fight to save her daughter, despite her attempts to resist BoJack’s charm. Kelsey admits to harboring career insecurities of her own. There is just as much resting on the success of Secretariat for her as there is for its washed-up star.

An upbeat end to the adventure can’t go untainted, of course. Just as Diane and Todd give themselves permission to feel good about making a small difference in the world, corporate cynicism overshadows their triumph. Diane might be cooler than she thought and Todd might be more empathetic than he thought, but all the confidence and positivity in the world can’t unravel the raging success of a fast food giant like Chicken 4 Dayz.

Julie Kliegman is the weekend editor for TheWeek.com and a freelance journalist based in New York. She’s written publications including BuzzFeed, Vox, Mental Floss, PolitiFact and the Tampa Bay Times. Tweet her your favorite SpongeBob GIF.

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