In every season of Netflix's BoJack Horseman, the creators have something hilarious and alarmingly accurate to say about Hollywood and popular culture. In its sixth and final season, they take aim at superhero movies–and in particular, Disney–Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel.
Representation and inclusion have been big issues in Hollywood. BoJack Horseman speaks to how clumsily Hollywood has gone about changing that.
When supporting character and struggling director Kelsey Jennings has a chance to pitch her take on the superhero movie Fireflame, she groans "Ugh, another one?" Her agent explains that the protagonist is a woman. Kelsey realizes she could actually get hired, but laments that "I don't want them to hire me just because I'm a woman."
The timing of this plotline is deliberate: it's 2019 and the premier of Captain Marvel marked the first time in 11 years that a Marvel superhero movie was directed by a woman (there have been 40 Marvel superhero movies since 2008).
BoJack Horseman says that even though Hollywood is chasing a desirable outcome with Fireflame, they're going about it the wrong way. Overselling the fact that Fireflame (or Captain Marvel) is a woman fails women everywhere. Just look at this screengrab from the Captain Marvel trailer. She is a "Her" before she is a "Hero."
Kelsey Jennings eventually pitches the story of Fireflame she wants to tell the directors and the world–not the version that the directors want to hear.
All of Hollywood could benefit from her words:
"You're doing this all wrong. She saves the day, and everybody loves her? I mean yeah, that makes sense if she's a man, but it's never worked like that for me. The rules are different for women.
If you're a woman and save the day, nobody loves you. They take you for granted. Or worse, they resent you. They try to punish you. The more powerful you are, the more they try to take your power away. And I just think that if your movie is smart, you'll acknowledge that.
Yeah it's a bummer. Being a superhero is hard, otherwise everyone would do it. Maybe that is a bad superhero movie. Not aspirational enough. I don't know. But it's real. And it's different. Also, in my version, she's gay, okay bye!"
Women are speaking up for themselves more than ever before–but if the representation of women in Hollywood comes at the cost of patronizing women, then women need to speak up even louder than ever.