Bojack Horseman has always excelled at casting talented people of color in supporting roles, particularly Black voice actors. With the series wrapping up, we ranked the 15 best Black voice performances.
Bojack Horseman is an animated series with no shortage of voice talent. The main voice cast — Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, and Paul F. Tompkins — comprise one of the most impressive casts of comedic talent ever put together for a long-running adult cartoon.
However, their blinding whiteness can’t be ignored, especially in the case of Alison Brie, who has been criticized for voicing the Vietnamese character Diane Nguyen. Despite this issue, Bojack has always excelled at casting talented people of color in supporting roles. Hong Chau is a godsend as Pickles, the sweet young pug Mr. Peanutbutter dates after his divorce with Diane. Aparna Nancherla is sweet and devastating as Bojack’s long-lost sister Hollyhock. But I have always had a special love for the Black voice acting on the series. Black voice actors are woefully underrepresented in cartoons, and it’s even worse in the realm of adult cartoons.
Luckily, Bojack has been a step in the right direction in this regard, featuring everyone from Lakeith Stanfield to the late John Witherspoon throughout its six seasons. So, as the series concludes with its final eight episodes, which premieres on Netflix on January 31 at Midnight PST, I thought I would count down the top 15 Black voice performances from Bojack Horseman.
15. Wayne voiced by Wyatt Cenac. [First appearance: “Zoës and Zeldas” in Season 1.]
No Black man does deadpan better than Wyatt Cenac, which makes him the perfect fit for Wayne — a Buzzfeed reporter who dated Diane before she met Mr. Peanutbutter. He’s a jaded young guy working in media, which probably makes him the most relatable person on this list. But, alas, the show didn’t give him enough to do. From one Black deadpan media worker to another: I see you, Wayne. You’re right, everything is terrible.
14. Eddie voiced by Colman Domingo. [Appeared in “The Old Sugarman Place” in Season 4.]
Eddie the dragonfly has all the makings of a Magical Negro character. Bojack meets him when he’s at his lowest, hiding away in his family’s old summer cottage. Eddie helps him fix the place up and listens to him when he rants on and on about his past. But, like most Magical Negro characters, Eddie is portrayed by an amazing Black actor: Colman Domingo. Domingo has made a name for himself in theater, television, and film. His voice is full of charisma, elevating his small character into someone instantly memorable. I hope this is only the beginning of his voice acting career.
13. Corduroy Jackson-Jackson voiced by Brandon T. Jackson. [First appearance: “Brand New Couch” in Season 2.]
Corduroy feels like a joke on the kind of jokey light roles Brandon T. Jackson got in the 2000s: charismatic, clown-like with not much under the hood. He plays Bojack’s costar in Secretariat, and he’s mainly played as annoying until his final appearance. When Jackson backslides into autoerotic asphyxiation, he’s surprisingly effective in his despair and existential dread. When he dies, it’s an abrupt end to a really interesting character anchored by a performance that makes me wonder what could have been if Hollywood had figured out what to do with him.
12. Sebastian St. Clair voiced by Keegan Michael-Key. [First appearance: “Later” in Season 1.]
I was honestly shocked to find out who the voice was for the dramatic, self-absorbed cat explorer Sebastian St. Clair. It’s the kind of broad, cartoony performance that Black actors don’t often get to play. But with Keegan Michael-Key on Bojack and Jordan Fisher playing Sea Hawk on She-Ra, Black men are finally getting the opportunity to play fun, flamboyant cartoon characters. Sebastian St. Clair is a kids TV character trapped in an adult cartoon, and bless him for that.
11. Woodchuck Coodchuck-Berkowitz voiced by Andre Braugher. [First appearance: “See Mr. Peanutbutter Run” in Season 4.]
Andre Braugher is a welcome addition to any cast, with propriety and dignity to his voice that lends well to authority figures. He’s the perfect choice for Woodchuck Coodchuck-Berkowitz, who runs against Mr. Peanutbutter for governor of California. And as much as we love Peanutbutter, he’s basically the Reagan in this scenario, with Braugher’s Woodchuck the clear choice.
10. Cuddlywhiskers voiced by Jeffrey Wright. [First Appearance: “The BoJack Horseman Show” in season 3.]
Jeffrey Wright’s voice…let’s just say this isn’t the place for me to get into how hot it is. But I do think it’s notable that he was able to make an old, weird artist cat sound so distinctive and fascinating. I can barely remember anything about Cuddlywhiskers except that he was hot, and maybe that’s enough. Please respect my privacy at this time.
9. Guy voiced by Lakeith Stanfield. [First Appearance: “Feel-Good Story” in Season 6.]
In a cartoon world full of wackiness, it’s pretty notable when someone appears who feels like a normal human being. Stanfield’s calm voice is his calling card, and as Guy he creates a much-needed grounding presence in Diane’s life as she navigates her separation from Mr. Peanutbutter.
8. Gentle Chickens Farmer voiced by Ron Funches. [ Appeared in “Chickens” in Season 2.]
Ron Funches is known as a “nicecore” comedian, so it’s only fitting that he would play one of the menacing characters on the show. A chicken who sells other chickens? Terrifying. Does he eat chicken? The implications of this character and the runaway chicken Becca completely cracked my understanding of the world this show built. Do ducks eat ducks? How far does this go?
7. Cooper Thomas Wallace Jr. voiced by Brian Tyree Henry. [Appeared in “The Amelia Earhart Story” in season 5.]
Why am I rating a very minor character who only appears in one episode so highly? Have you listened to Brian Tyree Henry’s voice? Am I attracted to this cartoon fox? Mind your business.
6. Doctor Champ voiced by Sam Richardson. [First Appearance: “A Horse Walks into a Rehab” in Season 6.]
Sam Richardson has made a name for himself as a guy who looks and sounds deceptively cheerful. There’s a sincerity to his voice that feels unreal, and he can’t help being adorable even when his character isn’t. Doctor Champ is a character tailor-made for Richardson, with a deep sadness bubbling just below the surface. When the therapy horse relapses and starts drinking again, we see Richardson really hit his stride with the character.
5. Officer Meow Meow Fuzzyface voiced by Cedric Yarbrough. [First Appearance: “Pilot” in Season 1.]
Give this man a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to comedy. Between this and The Boondocks, Cedric Yarbrough may be the Black king of adult animation. Also: what’s up with so many of the Black characters being cats? Is Princess Carolyn supposed to be Black too?
4. Pete Repeat voiced by Jermaine Fowler. [First Appearance: “Escape from L.A.” in Season 2.]
Much like Brandon T. Jackson, Jermaine Fowler takes a pretty stereotypical Black make character and gives him some real dimension. When his girlfriend gets dangerously drunk at the prom thanks to Bojack, Pete rightfully freaks out, and the way his voice breaks when he realizes what kind of person Bojack is, almost made me cry. Then came his return for the series’ last season, and my heart broke all over again.
3. Dr. Indira and Mary-Beth voiced by Issa Rae & Wanda Sykes. [Dr. Indira’s First appearance: “The Dog Days Are Over” in season 5. Mary-Beth appeared in “INT. SUB” in Season 5.]
Wanda Sykes is an all-time legend, and pairing her up with Issa Rae for a full half-hour of television was simply inspired. They play two successful lesbian Black women who are both dealing with the dysfunctional main cast. Dr. Indira is Diane’s therapist and Mary-Beth is a corporate negotiator trying to mediate between Todd and Princess Carolyn. I would watch an entire series about these women and a live-action movie. Sykes and Rae have great comedic chemistry.
2. Sextina Aquafina voiced by Daniele Gaither. [First Appearance: “Prickly-Muffin” in Season 1.]
“Brrap Brrap Pew Pew” is one of the best abortion episodes of any television show ever, and “Get Dat Fetus Kill Dat Fetus” should have won a Grammy. Could you imagine being as cool as Daniele Gaither? She took over the role of Sextina Aquafina in season three of Bojack, and did incredible work with a surprisingly complex role.
1. Ana Spanakopita voiced by Angela Bassett. [First Appearance: “Out to Sea” in Season 2.]
Angela Bassett is one of the greatest actresses to ever live and should be an EGOT by now. Her performance as Ana is one of the best in the series. She’s one of Bojack’s many romantic partners, but she’s the first to not seem to need him at all. Her relationship with Bojack is complicated, devastating, and multilayered. Bassett has a rich, resonant voice that I wouldn’t mind hearing every day of my life. Could you imagine if she recorded a motivational album that you could listen to at the gym or while you’re meditating? It would be too powerful, but the world needs it.
Jourdain Searles is a writer, comedian, and podcaster who hails from Georgia and resides in Queens. She has written for Bitch Media, Thrillist, The Ringer, and MTV News. As a comic, she has performed stand-up in venues all over New York City, including Union Hall, The People Improv’s Theater, UCB East, and The Creek and the Cave. She can be found on Twitter.