WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the first half of the sixth season of BoJack Horseman, now streaming on Netflix
BoJack Horseman has been more than happy to tackle taboo elements of culture. Over the last six seasons, the show has frankly looked at hypocrisies in the entertainment industry, politics and more. Sometimes it comes in the form of a long-running exploration, and other times it's the basis for a single sly joke to get a point across. The animated series made one such gag in the newest batch of episodes, taking certain professional sports teams to task for using racially insensitive team names and imagery.
The Baby Humans
In the third episode of the sixth season, Diane (Alison Brie) is still working with Girl Croosh, helping film short web documentary pieces across the United States. Arriving in Chicago with her camera-man/love interest Guy (Lakeith Stanfield), he reveals the city is his hometown. Diane agrees to hang-out with him and his friends one night as they watch a baseball game. However, Diane is offended by the mascot for the team, which Guy defends. It turns out one of the Chicago baseball teams of the BoJack Horseman universe is the Human Babies.
Running onto the field is even the team mascot of the "flightless and furless" species: Waa Waa. It's someone walking around in a large baby mascot suit that keeps trying to drink "poison," which is apparently a human stereotype in this universe. When Diane argues that it's an insulting caricature of what a human is in this world, Guy tries to defend it. He even posits that the Human Baby is a tribute to the history of humans in this world, and meant as such.
Human beings aren't the only sentient and speaking species in Bojack Horseman. In fact, the majority of the show centers on anthropomorphized animals. There have been explorations of racism in the BoJack universe before this, and what it looks like in a world so full of different species. An episode earlier in the show's run featured livestock animals being bred for food. In the fourth season of the show, Princess Carolyn was met with a surprising amount of scorn when her mouse boyfriend Ralph brings her home to meet his family. But showcasing how insulting using an entire species as the name of a team of athletes, BoJack Horseman takes a pretty hard jab at a number of real-life American sports teams.
A number of teams across the country still use racially insensitive names and iconography. Notably, teams like the football team the Washington Redskins and the baseball team the Cleveland Indians have been, in the case of the former, accused of insensitivity for using racial terminology and, in the case of the latter, using caricatures of Native Americans. Even Chicago, the city in which the episode is set, has a hockey team called the Blackhawks.
BoJack Horseman isn't the only show that's drawn attention to the controversy. Others have included South Park, which specifically targeted the Washington Redskins in the Season 18 episode "Go Fund Yourself". But the Human Baby mascot is a succulent look at the same underlying concept, pointing out just how ridiculous the practice by taking it to the most extreme version. The Human Babies are an inherently goofy concept, but they speak to the ridiculousness of using entire groups of people as the basis for a sports team, especially when you decide to make them as cartoonish as possible. It's absurd and insulting, something sports fans might want to keep in mind next time the debate turns back to the team names and logos.
The first half of BoJackk Horseman Season 6 is streaming now on Netflix.