BGSD, BoJack Horseman, and the Strangeness of Motivation

Look, as much as I feel the need to apologize for not blahgging in an egregious amount of time, I’m not going to. No one suffers as a direct consequence of me not writing a frivolous list of the best Billy Joel songs to listen to on a Tuesday afternoon or some such nonsense. And really, if they do, they can check my archive on The Toast. I wrote a snarky love letter to Stephen King in the form of a list for them this month (read it here!), so were anyone to suffer over lack of lists, they shall suffer no more.


For many months now, I’ve been on a text listserv called bgsd moderated by Kelly Sue De Connick, the brilliant, effusive, and extremely kind author of some great comics, including Bitch PlanetPretty Deadly, and a couple runs on Captain Marvel. It stands for Bitches Get Shit Done, and it’s exceedingly simple but extremely effective: brief, punchy, motivational text messages. They’re all written with the intent of getting the recipient moving on whatever project they’re ignoring. For me, that’s usually a freelance piece, and reading any given missive from the bgsd archive now serves as a reminder that I really should be writing more. Anecdotally, it’s effective; since subscribing to bgsd, I’ve had three pieces published on The Toast, and one was actually a longform personal narrative. That’s big for me.

It strikes me that motivation works in mysterious ways. bgsd is pretty straightforward, but something I’ve found just as encouraging lately sounds weird even to me: a cartoon for adults about a depressed horse who used to star in a nineties sitcom. Most people on the Internet seem to have at least some baseline knowledge about BoJack Horseman at this point, and if you don’t, that “cartoon for adults about a depressed horse” bit is an OK summary. It is, for the most part, not a very cheery show. Sure, it’s a comedy, and there are laughs, but it’s balanced out by a very strong sense of pathos. BoJack (voiced by Will Arnett) is not happy, never satisfied with his life, even when he’s in a seemingly healthy relationship with Wanda (Lisa Kudrow) and filming the project he’s always dreamed of, Seabiscuit. (He’s a horse, remember?) There’s a striking scene late in season two in which BoJack realizes that nothing makes him truly happy in the long term. We see him coming to grips with that, to some extent, and by the close of the season finale, he’s striving toward self improvement again.

The most poignant moment of the season for me was the very last scene. BoJack is running and crosses paths with a baboon we see jogging past BoJack’s house every few episodes, and they share this exchange (which I’ll screencap from IMDB because I’m lazy):

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 10.01.47 AM.png

Inspiration comes from the strangest places, and watching BoJack collapse, then get such simple advice from a baboon we’ve never really met before, struck a chord with me. I’ve been letting my health slide lately, skipping out on the gym and ordering three drinks instead of one. I’ve been relatively uninspired as far as new ideas for fic and Legitimate Writing go. I’m content, but I know I’d be happier if I worked harder on both those things.

So I’ve started using the treadmill at the gym again. (It helps that this week, every mile run means another dollar for City Harvest, a local charity. Good call, Blink Fitness.) And I’m slowly but surely cutting back on sweets, and I’m brainstorming whenever I can. It’s thanks in part to bgsd, thanks in part to BoJack, and thanks in part to my ability to look for motivation wherever it may come.


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