BoJack Horseman: the downward spiral of Sarah Lynn (2023)

Meredith Dady, News and Opinion Editor|December 15, 2022

BoJack Horseman is a 6 season long animated comedy that depicts an arrogant, yet self-loathing alcoholic horseman named BoJack and a series of massive mistakes he makes that damage his life as well as the lives of his friends. This show strikes many viewers as silly and funny on first impression. The first season doesn’t have much depth, mainly because it serves to develop the narrative of the show; however, when the show progresses it touches on very dark subjects with extreme accuracy.

Many shows romanticize topics like addiction, depression, stardom, and suicidal ideation while BoJack Horseman underscores the raw reality of these things. It also touches on the concept of mistakes and how they cannot always be forgiven.

This series also has several minor characters with nuanced, well developed personalities. One of the most notable side characters with a dark story-line is Sarah Lynn, a former child star from the comedy that BoJack starred on, Horsing Around.

Sarah Lynn may initially appear as bratty and entitled to viewers, but there is a lot that caused her to be the way that she is, along with the main character BoJack. She battled addiction and impulses for her entire life, up until she died in her early 30’s.

It began when Sarah Lynn was forced by her mother into acting at the early age of three. At this young age, she expressed that she wanted to be an architect. She held onto this hope for the rest of her life but her mother scolded her saying, “Honey, college is for ugly people who can’t tap dance.”

Sarah Lynn also never had a real father figure. She had a stepdad with the last name Richardson; however, it was implied that he mistreated her. BoJack Horseman was her dad on the show Horsing Around and was the closest thing to a father figure she ever had. Before one performance, she was particularly nervous and hid under the set kitchen table. At this point, BoJack gave her an incredibly harmful piece of advice that she internalized for the rest of her life. He suggested that no one will ever love her except her fans and to never stop giving the people what they want, even if it destroys her.

This piece of advice was also given to BoJack by his mother at a very early age and had a profound impact on his life and his acting. This mindset–passed from BoJack’s mother to BoJack, then to Sarah Lynn–is one of the many themes of generational trauma expressed in the show. Sarah Lynn experiences a lot of the struggles that BoJack did during his life as a result of generational trauma.

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Sarah Lynn begins struggling with substance as a pre-teen due to BoJack’s irresponsibility. One day, he left his vodka unattended in his dressing room where Sarah Lynn was getting ready and she ended up getting drunk and had to go home. BoJack made Sharona, the set hair and makeup artist, take the fall for it. Sharona was one of the only people that genuinely cared for Sarah Lynn. She noticed Sarah Lynn’s discomfort with her stepfather and allowed her to get ready in BoJack’s dressing room and was the only one to listen to her feelings, but BoJack threw her under the bus.

Sarah Lynn was also somewhat close with the cast, but the show’s creator, Herb Kazzaz, was fired and the show’s focus shifted over to her, making her costars jealous. This was particularly hard on her because she didn’t have many friends her own age, since her stepfather homeschooled her.

Fortunately, Sarah Lynn was able to find success outside of the sitcom, being featured in People magazine for her singing talent and having a clothing line created for her. In 2002, after Horsing Around ended, Sarah Lynn released a hit single, “Prickly Muffin.” It was named after her nickname in the show but portrayed her in a provocative manner. Sarah Lynn wanted to be seen in a new light, and not as the innocent child on Horsing Around.

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After this, she skyrocketed to stardom and was even considered the biggest popstar in the world. The weight of her fame, however, took a toll on her. In 2007, she was elated when she found out that BoJack Horseman had stopped by her dressing room to see her. She was desperate for comfort and needed someone to confide in. He was her last hope. She was finally optimistic that someone truly cared about her as a friend, outside of fame and connections. But BoJack really did just want her for a fame related purpose. And thus began her downward spiral.

Over the next decade, Sarah Lynn began to form severe addictions to drugs and alcohol. She also began struggling in stardom as many of her new albums failed. At one point, her heart stopped and was started back up again. She also received a DUI.

During this time, she remained in touch with the show’s original creator, Herb Kazzaz. He was dying of cancer and invited her out to eat to make some final requests. He begged her to get sober and help get his book published.

Shortly after this, she and her boyfriend Andrew Garfield ran into BoJack Horseman and his friend Todd Chavez at IKEA. He publicly broke up with her and she had a massive meltdown in the store and injured herself in the process. BoJack drove her to the hospital and checked her into rehab.

She ended up checking herself out of rehab, and BoJack allowed her to stay at his house. He briefly acted like a much needed father figure to her for the first time. This arrangement, unfortunately, didn’t stay positive for long because Sarah Lynn ended up exploiting BoJack and his home for partying while BoJack enabled her substance abuse. During this time, things also became intimate which was a very unhealthy dynamic, especially for Sarah Lynn.

BoJack eventually has no choice other than to kick her out and she even foreshadows her death by admitting that she’s at a place where she “doesn’t need to grow as a person” and that she’s likely to “die tragically young” from surrounding herself with enablers.

Later on, Sarah Lynn attends Herb’s funeral with BoJack and shortly after gets sober. This lasted for 9 months, until BoJack called her up and asked if she wanted to party. She immediately broke sobriety and admits that she only became sober so that her next high would “hit harder”.

Then from January 15 to February 28 in 2016, Sarah Lynn and BoJack went on a massive drug bender. It begins at Sarah Lynn’s house and the pair watch horsing around together. BoJack eventually decides that he wants to “right everyone that he has wronged.” They stop at various character’s homes for him to apologize, mainly so that he can feel better about himself.

On February 28, they laid on a bed together in a dirty motel and saw on TV that Sarah Lynn had won an Oscar. She was excited for a brief moment before she realized that she should’ve been there to receive the award herself, rather than her stepfather accepting it for her.

At this point, she has an existential panic because she feels like she is doomed and BoJack offers to take her to the planetarium, a place that she has requested to go several times over the course of the bender. When they arrive, Sarah Lynn admires the architecture and they stare at the stars together. Then she leans on BoJack’s shoulder and says her final words: “I want to be an architect.” After she lost consciousness and BoJack realized she was in trouble, he panicked and waited seventeen minutes before calling 911.

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She died tragically young at age 31, just like she had anticipated. Everyone in her life had failed her. This is a fate that many real life celebrities face due to the pressure they are subjected to during their lives. Many modern media romanticizes childhood stardom and as a result, our society craves it. BoJack Horseman portrayed its true nature in a way that is incredibly eye opening to society. Child stars deserve better.

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