Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-14-2021


What can a cartoon tell us about the state of capitalist societies? This study examines the case of Netflix adult animated TV show BoJack Horseman (2014-2020) with the aim of understanding the mechanisms at play in the formation of the critique of capitalism. It investigates the narrative and cinematographic devices employed by the show to construct a realistic portrayal of American capitalist system and its harmful consequences on individuals and society in general.

Through the analysis of realism, self-referentiality and intertextuality, the star system, and processes of subsumption and commodification, this work comes to the conclusion that BoJack Horseman ‘got real’ and manages to convey its powerful message with the help of two main strategies. First, it establishes an oscillation between on the one hand a constant appeal to the viewer’s senses, emotions, and empathy, and on the other hand, Brechtian-like codes of breaking of the fourth wall and audience’s active and playful engagement. Second, it puts its fingers on specific aspects of capitalism and manages to integrate them in a compelling narrative that heavily relies on temporal continuity, making BoJack Horseman a unique production in the landscape of animation.


bojack horseman ; capitalism : audience ; animation ; realism ; self-reflexivity

Document Type




Degree Name

Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Katrin Schroeter

Second Committee Member

Pamela Cheek

Third Committee Member

Marco Briziarelli