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In S6:E11 of Bojack Horseman, after Bojack gets out of rehab, he is threatened with the possibility of reporters exposing past misdeeds of his. At timestamp 4:00:

Diane: "What did you do this time?"

Bojack: "I haven't done anything - since I got out of rehab, I have been on my best behavior."

Todd: "But, before rehab..."

Bojack: "No! They can't get me on old shit. I'm a different person now."

And my interpretation is that this is true. Bojack seems like a different person for good, and at least since rehab he has undeniably been better. Later in the episode,

Bojack decides to lie to the reporter and deny her accusations.

It's pretty clear that the show discourages this behavior. My question is this: what does the show tell us that Bojack should have done instead? When you have "old shit" as Bojack does, and you have come to terms with it yourself (as you must when you become an accountable person), what should your attitude be about your past transgressions, and about people finding out about them? It seems clear that you can't just admit everything all at once, like tweet it all out, especially if there are victims who do not deserve that particular spotlight if they don't want it. But it also seems clear that you cannot lie when people ask about them.

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What the show is trying to tell us is that becoming a good person doesn't automatically undo the hurt that you have caused to other people in the past. That responsibility will stay with you forever, and there's not a single thing that Bojack could have done to protect himself against scrutiny. That said, in the specific context of the show, I recall that he had a very successful TV interview in which he comported himself well and showed humbleness, but then made the foolish mistake of getting cocky and then insisting on a follow-up interview. That egocentricity was "old Bojack" showing through, I feel.

You're right that it's inappropriate to publicly state all of your transgressions, however you can reach out in private to all of the people you've affected, and let them know that you realise that what you did was wrong. If then publicly accused of something, you can admit that it happened, but state (honestly) that you have already apologised to the victim of your own initiative. However, this should be viewed as a side-effect of doing the right thing, not the sole motivator.

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While Bojack's second interview was a tactical mistake that directly led to his imprisonment, I think the point of the last series was that his downfall was inevitable. He had been too public in his bad behaviour and all it took was a couple of inquisitive journalists to unravel his lies and justifications. It could have happened at any time and it was just bad luck that it happened when he was trying to turn his life around.

However, Bojack's genuine recovery and rehabilitation are not a waste of time just because he gets caught. He does his time in prison with an equanimity that he has rarely shown before and earns a happy, if somewhat sad ending.

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  • I'm not necessarily looking for a way that Bojack can avoid a downfall from fame and the good graces of the public, but it's clear to me that he did not handle the downfall correctly even before lying to the reporter (although lying to the reporter was obviously a misstep). I am trying to decide if there's any recourse that New Bojack has to take responsibility for his past actions (Sarah Lynn, Gina) after rehab and before the interview. – jeremy909 May 8 at 2:12
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    @jeremy909 I don't think that show tries to tell you "If you were bad in the past you must have to do this" but rather "there will be consequences for your past behaviour, even if you've changed". – Yasskier May 8 at 2:56

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