Popular Netflix Series BoJack Horseman Tackles Animal Welfarism
When trying to decide what new series to watch on Netflix a few months back, I settled on BoJack Horseman, an “adult animated comedy-drama series” starring Will Arnett and Amy Sedaris. I had seen some good reviews of the show online, and found out comedian Maria Bamford had a role in it as well, and became invested after a few episodes.
Although I already enjoyed the show, by season two, episode five, I was very happy that I committed to it. The particular episode–“Chickens”–is described in Wikipedia as follows:
“Todd (Aaron Paul), Diane (Alison Brie), and Kelsey’s (Maria Bamford) daughter, Irving (Amy Schumer), help a genetically modified chicken (who escaped from a “Chicken 4 Dayz” truck following a car accident) to cross the road in order to keep her from being made into a “Food Chicken”, but get in trouble with the Los Angeles Police Department.”
The episode begins by showing two different ads (available below)–one for a massive factory farm called Chicken 4 Dayz that “pump their chickens full of hormones and keep them cooped up in tiny cages” and encourage people not to ask questions and “just keep eating.” The second ad is for Gentle Farms, a free-range esque farm that treats their livestock “differently”–with “lush fields, plenty of dignity,” and differentiate between chickens raised as “friends” and “food”–eliminating the “moral grey area.”
The overall theme of the show is to keep the escaped chicken, Becca, at Gentle Farms and therefore away from a “terrible life at a factory farm.” However, as soon as she is dropped off, Todd has second thoughts, questioning the idea of humane slaughter–especially since he has bonded with Becca. After they get back to Gentle Farms to rescue her, Todd has trouble distinguishing Becca from the rest of the chickens, and just as soon as he thinks he has, Diane states, “No Todd, don’t you get it? They’re all Becca!” Inside Pulse sums up the seemingly pro-animal rights stance of the episode:
“At the top of the episode, the argument is made that Gentle Farms is a better place for chickens. They’ll be raised better and have a better life in general. But by the end of the episode, we find that there really is no option for raising chickens that isn’t terrible. Maybe it’s just making the argument that eating meat in the BoJack universe is morally abhorrent, but it also seems to be trying to make the case that it’s just terrible in general.”
The episode ends on a cynical note, with Todd, Diane and Irving wondering if their actions made any difference (Becca was adopted and saved from slaughter) and as they are praising their efforts, they pass a sign outside of Chicken 4 Dayz, which is being updated to reflect “6 Billion Served.” You can watch the clip showing the two different ads below: