“Free Churro” is an episode in the fifth season of BoJack Horseman. Written by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, directed by Amy Winfrey and performed entirely by Will Arnett, it is arguably one of the most unique and masterful episodes of television ever. The natural other half of season three’s “Fish Out of Water”, in which there are only a few lines of dialogue, this episode consists entirely of two monologues—the first, a tirade delivered by the titular character’s father and the second a fifteen minute long eulogy given by Bojack at his mother’s funeral.
An episode long monologue is nearly unprecedented in television history (the only other example being from a forty year old episode of Maude that is name checked here). After all, isn’t television a visual medium? But “Free Churro” is so well crafted it could have gone on twice as long and I doubt anyone would have complained.
Winfrey has worked on the two most overtly feminist episodes of Bojack: “Brrapp Brapp Pew Pew” (about the abortion debate) and “Thoughts and Prayers” (in which the writing of an article about a woman’s right to bear arms ends with the passing of sensible gun legislation). This is a departure from those episodes in that it doesn’t even attempt to pass the Bechdel test. What sets this episode apart isn’t that it’s a woman telling a woman’s story. It’s that this is a great director raising the bar for the entire form.
Like Bojack’s mother, Winfrey is nowhere to be seen in this episode, but it is all about her. It’s easy to attribute the success of this episode solely to the writer and the actor but, who chose those perfectly timed coughs and shuffles from the audience, and the precise moments to change angles? Who made sure that a fifteen minute monologue didn’t feel like exactly that? Who distracted us just enough so that that final, perfect joke would land? She did. The director did. The writing and performance are brilliant, but the direction is what brings them together. Bojack Horseman is the best thing on television and Winfrey is a part of that.
BoJack Horseman is available to stream on Netflix.
Liz Singh lives in Montreal where she wrote and directed The Lower Plateau which premiered last year at the Montreal World Film Festival and will be screening in Toronto, September 21st, 2019 at CineFAM.