The dwindling legacy of Sarah Lynn

[Content note: this post discusses substance abuse, addiction, death, abuse and violence]

Give Bojack an Emmy. This is the basis for the latest Twitter content from ‘Bojack’, which makes sense as Bojack basically got a Golden Globe for treating Diane and Todd like crap so maybe strangling someone is worthy of an Emmy. Perhaps in the long-awaited season six, Bojack will rape someone and might finally get nominated for that Oscar he’s desperate for. 

Everyone loves bad Bojack. It’s what has provided the audience with so much entertainment over the years. The last season saw Bojack make an entire show that was about the normalisation of bad guys in the media and how we shouldn’t love them and the lesson flew right over everyone’s heads. You can lead Bojack to water but you can’t make him drink anything but vodka – probably because he’s found his way to an open bar. Bojack is the tragedy of his own story, and everyone else’s too. On the one hand, everyone wants him to get help but it’s difficult, because if I’m honest, I’m kind of rooting against a horse too.

Am I glad he’s finally in rehab? Yes. But that isn’t where Bojack’s path to being better should end. It should just be the start. As Gina said, he should be in jail for what he did to her. Bojack getting sober just is not enough. It isn’t enough for him to be happy and healthy. He has to be accountable. And it wasn’t until Diane finally called him out for all his harmful behaviour that we finally got some acknowledgement Bojack played in Sarah Lynn’s death. We had previously had her funeral and an episode showing him away and reflecting on himself, but he didn’t make any substantial changes. He didn’t do anything to honour her. He just got on with his life and his parties and his fame. Of all of the things Bojack has done, that was one of the cruelest. 

Watching Bojack is a nightmare as a recovering alcoholic. I am perpetually scared that I will one day turn into him, but also furious at every man he represents. When you’re a woman who is sober and recovering from alcohol abuse, there will always be a queue of men ready to give you that little nudge off the wagon so you fall face first into a pile of garbage. They think they see you, but they don’t. They see a vulnerable woman they can use to feel better about themselves and that’s what happened with Sarah Lynn. Bojack was sad and he didn’t want to be sad alone. He wanted a woman who he had a sexual relationship with and who, unlike Princess Carolyn, wouldn’t call him out on all of his crap. He wanted a pass, in truth. A pass to be bad and someone who would adore him for when he is garbage. As a father figure, Bojack had the power in that relationship and he used it when he wanted to. He never called to see how Sarah Lynn was. He never talked to her. He just called when he wanted someone to get drunk with and he didn’t stop to think about her own attempts to stay sober. And I don’t want to be Bojack. I work very hard not to be. But I don’t want to be Sarah Lynn either.

After Sarah Lynn’s death, Bojack rightly points out that it wasn’t inevitable. For alcoholics, the choice isn’t about drinking or not. That’s a compulsion that will always be there. But Bojack chose to seek out Sarah Lynn instead of just going to his usual bar. He chose to have sex with her when she had no other place to stay. He chose to do a million other crappy things to Sarah Lynn from when she was a child and worked on his show. Bojack helped mould Sarah Lynn into someone who didn’t like herself very much, and needed substances to be able to live at all. 

And he did it with such casual disregard, and that was how she was treated in death eventually, once everyone got over the shock. They just moved on. Except they didn’t, because so few people really change or really move on. They made the same mistakes, and nothing was taken from her death. Some people, like Bojack, got even worse. Her death hung over the characters, but it didn’t inspire anyone to want to get justice for her. They just shrugged and went back to work. Maybe they got a free churro. But they didn’t take responsibility. 

The next season might finally change that, but as Diane said, there’s a good chance that rehab won’t change Bojack at all. It will just make him sober and leave him with all of the other flaws he needs to work on. It will be several years too late. And it shouldn’t make people hate Bojack less. sarah Lynn’s life has been reduced to Horsin’ Around memories and reruns. There has been little else to show for the life of a woman who was never given any direction or validation, other than what she received from the media and her fans. But perhaps, slowly and carefully, there can finally be a legacy to Sarah Lynn’s life and she isn’t just forgotten and discarded. 

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