The Loud House – My Latest Love

Warning: spoilers for The Loud House and The Casagrandes!

Nickelodeon’s animated series The Loud House has quickly become one of my favourite shows, despite only discovering it a few weeks ago. Being the middle child sounds difficult enough, and for eleven-year-old Lincoln Loud those trials and tribulations are worsened by being the only boy… with ten sisters. Inspired by creator Chris Savino’s own childhood growing up with five sisters, the show is set in the fictional suburb of Royal Woods, Michigan and provides a portrayal of said experience that is both entertaining and heartwarming. The four full seasons that have aired since the show’s premiere in 2016 have been met with critical success, so much so that The Loud House has been renewed for a sixth season (the fifth season is currently airing.) A feature film is also in development and is set to be released on Netflix sometime this year. The show has even spawned an equally successful spin-off, starring the supporting characters of the Casagrande Family. As well as the spin-off, the Loud Family have their own podcast (Listen Out Loud) on the Nickelodeon website and YouTube channel.

Lynn Sr. and Rita Loud have their fictional hands full with their eleven troublemakers. Lincoln’s sisters include 17-year-old phone addict Lori; 16-year-old ditzy fashionista Leni, whose character is named after Lenny from Of Mice and Men, 15-year-old rockstar Luna; 14-year-old jokester Luan; 13-year-old superstitious athlete Lynn Jr. (also known as LJ); 8-year-old poetic goth Lucy; 6-year-old identical twins: dirt-loving Lana and aggressive pageant princess Lola; 4-year-old child prodigy Lisa, and adorable 1-year-old Lily. With so many main characters, and a lengthy list of supporting ones, there is a lot to keep track of when watching the show.

The Loud children. All Rights Reserved.

One of the show’s star qualities is the variety of genuine representation it has, which all feels incredibly natural. Lincoln’s best friend is Clyde McBride, a young Black boy who has two comically overprotective gay fathers, Harold and Howie, who are also in an interracial relationship. The McBride’s are the first married gay couple to be significantly featured in an animated Nickelodeon series. In addition, Lincoln’s older sister Luna is openly bisexual, and is shown to have a girlfriend named Sam. Lynn Sr.’s best friend, band-mate, and employee is Kotaro, who is Japanese, and Lincoln and Clyde’s group of school friends includes Stella, a young Filipino girl.

Luna (right) kissing Sam (left) on the cheek in ‘Purrfect Gig’. Image courtesy of Nickelodeon. All Rights Reserved.

Another major example of the show’s diverse representation is the Casagrande Family, the multigenerational Mexican-American family of Bobby and Ronnie Anne Santiago, the boyfriend and friend of Lori and Lincoln, respectively. CJ – the younger cousin of Bobby and Ronnie Anne – has Down’s Syndrome and is voiced by Jared Kozak, who also has Down’s Syndrome. Inclusion of disabled characters in children’s animation, or media in general, is very rare, which makes CJ so wonderful to see. After Bobby, Ronnie Anne, and their mother Maria move from Royal Woods to Great Lakes City, Ronnie Anne befriends Sid Chang, who is half white and half Chinese. People from all walks of life are included in The Loud House and The Casagrandes in a way that feels inherently natural.

Top row, left to right: Arturo, Uncle Carlos, Maria, and Aunt Frida.
Bottom row, left to right: Hector, Carlitos, Ronnie Anne, Bobby, Carl Jr., Rosa, CJ, and Carlota

The Casagrandes have been extremely successful as supporting characters in The Loud House, even having the first nine episodes of Season 4 focused on their lives in the city. The family also earned their own self-titled TV show in 2019, the first season of which has already aired. Film critic Carlos Aguilar highlighted how the show, powered by Latino writers, subverts long-standing stereotypes while interweaving ‘spiritual aspects of Latino culture with playful storylines that provide insight while entertaining viewers.’ The show’s second season is currently airing, hopefully with more to follow. The Louds feature in a few episodes of The Casagrandes as minor characters also, filling the screen with both families’ antics.

Neither The Loud House nor The Casagrandes make a big show and tell of this representation, and hardly any of these facts are mentioned explicitly. Despite the shows’ animated and fictional natures, the characters just simply exist as their true (albeit fictional) selves, which cultivates a sense of humble authenticity that is both meaningful and greatly appreciated. One of the best examples of this is in The Loud House episode ‘Singled Out’, when Lynn Jr. realises that all of her rollerskating teammates have romantic partners. One of the girls, Laney, casually mentions her girlfriend Alice. Neither of the girls’ sexualities is explicitly mentioned or even explored further, but it is obvious that they are queer. Laney and Alice, who are also an interracial couple, are even shown cosying up to each other and flirting at a restaurant in one scene. Given that they are friends of Lynn Jr., it can be assumed that the girls are around 13-years-old – the same age as LJ. LGBTQ+ representation among adult characters is already extremely limited in children’s shows and is routinely met with dismay – as demonstrated by the controversey surrounding a gay wedding in an episode of Arthur, which was even banned in Alabama because it was deemed ‘inappropriate’ for young viewers. This wider social context of blatant homophobia makes such representation among child characters in a children’s series all the more amazing to see.

The show is hilarious to watch, with main character Lincoln occasionally breaking the fourth wall to provide some context for the audience. The show’s several running gags constitute a large part of its comedy. Lola, who might be my favourite Loud, is mean-spirited and downright maniacal when things don’t go her way. When enraged, Lola is portrayed as being stronger than anyone she fights, no matter the age or size difference, including her eldest sister Lori. Genius Lisa is obsessed with science, to the point that she is scarily fascinated by excrement, so much so that she kept her very first ‘fecal sample’ in the attic, which sounds like a health risk to me. Another running gag is the nauseating behaviour of Lana, Lola’s twin sister. Lana is an absolute beast – she regularly eats the mouldy food she finds around the house and garbage pulled from bins. She is also a major animal lover – to the point that her best friend is a frog named Hops. Lana is also an expert handywoman and has fixed the family car – the affectionately-named ‘Vanzilla’ – on more than one occasion. Ths stark contrast between Lola and Lana alone makes for great television. In addition to those mentioned here, there are several other running gags for both the Loud Family and other characters around Royal Woods that make them all very unique and amusing to watch.

Lola (left) and Lana (right) in ‘Strife of the Party’. Image courtesy of Nickelodeon. All Rights Reserved.

A central theme of the show is of course family and what comes with that – sacrifice, sharing, and teamwork. The Loud siblings tend to act selfishly at first, but upon realising how much their siblings mean to them they have a change of heart. As frustrating as life with ten siblings can be, the Loud children all love each other dearly and will go to ridiculous lengths for one another. The kids even have regular sibling meetings in Lori and Leni’s room to discuss any issues they have and come up with solutions, although this doesn’t always go smoothly. The Loud House is one of the greatest animated children’s series that I have seen in a while. From the diversity of the characters to their comedic quirks, and the heartwarming message each episode provides, The Loud House is a must-watch for anyone that enjoys witty humour, creative hijinks, and absolute pandemonium. For fellow binge-watchers, this series is wildly addictive – somehow I raced through all five seasons in just over a week!

The Loud House is available to stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and NowTV.

The Casagrandes is also available to stream on NowTV.

My Top Five BoJack Horseman Episodes

Trigger warning: discussion of parental death, addiction, domestic violence, pregnancy, and misscarriage

Full of anthropomorphic animals, hard-to-swallow self-truths, addiction, generational family trauma, and raunchy sex against the glitzy backdrop of Los Angeles, this unforgettable series was never for the lighthearted. BoJack Horseman ran for six seasons, between 2014 and 2020, and has continued to be a hugely important series for many – including myself. A few months ago I rewatched all six seasons, which prompted me to ask myself which episodes were my top five. It took a lot of re-rewatching and rearranging but I finally narrowed seventy-seven brilliant and unique episodes into a top five – plus a short but essential ‘Honourable Mentions’ section.

1. Free Churro

BoJack Horseman in ‘Free Churro’ – Season 5, Episode 6.
Photo courtesy of Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

In this episode BoJack gives an awkwardly comical (but also profoundly depressing) eulogy at what he thinks is his late mother Beatrice’s funeral. BoJack’s cold relationship with his mother means that his eulogy is not one that a loving son would give his equally-loving mother. As someone with a deceased parent, to whom they were not very close, BoJack’s realisation that his mother’s death will hurt regardless of how well they got on is heartbreaking, and a hard truth to swallow. He expresses that he had always wanted Beatrice to show him that she loved him. Even as he stands beside her casket, BoJack, aged fifty-four, says that he is still waiting for proof of her love for him. But the death of a parent brings the certainty that you will never get the perfect relationship you wanted with them, and the realisation that you still had the tiniest speck of hope that it would be a reality one day makes it all the more painful. BoJack says that even though the unpredictability of death should make us ‘more adventurous, kind, and forgiving’, it has only made us ‘small, stupid, and petty’ – which is perhaps a subtle hint that he should forgive her posthumously, but as he puts it: ‘she was a bitch.’

This episode was the only complete no-brainer for me when making this list, because it’s one I can return to when certain feelings arise. It’s a comfort watch for me and has been for years now. Although several other episodes have touched me on an emotional level, none have done so quite as personally as ‘Free Churro’. At the end of his eulogy, BoJack finally realises that he is in the wrong funeral parlour after he opens the casket, and the viewer sees that the funeral-goers are all lizards. While his mistake is somewhat funny, and earns a chuckle from me, it doesn’t diminish the sincerity and significance of his words. In fact, I think it might make them all the more powerful.

2. A Quick One, While He’s Away

Peter and Hollyhock in ‘A Quick One, While He’s Away’ – Season 6, Episode 8.
Photo courtesy of Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

Paige Sinclair, also known as ‘Front Page Paige’, is a hog with flair. Paige’s way of speaking in old-fashioned riddles and rhymes, and her over-the-top personality, makes her one of the most unforgettable minor characters in the show’s history. In this episode Paige, and her equally old-fashioned journalist partner Maximillian Banks, begin to investigate the circumstances surrounding Sarah Lynn’s fatal overdose. At the same time, we get a glimpse at how some of the women previously in BoJack’s life are doing post-BoJack. Ex-girlfriend Gina, who now hates sudden changes and doing stunts, is traumatised after he assaulted her in a drug-induced haze in ‘The Showstopper.’ Meanwhile Kelsey can’t get any meaningful work as a director since she was fired from Secretariat after she and BoJack broke into the Nixon Museum together, but as she points out her career is the only one that has suffered as a result.

The ways in which BoJack has negatively impacted the lives of several women is the epicentre of this episode, and it makes for a very meaningful probe into the very real fact that women routinely suffer at the hands of men. I think that this episode makes a bold and thought-provoking statement about gendered issues and experiences within the wider context of patriarchy – making every single minute majorly important. This episode also sets up an arc in which BoJack must confront his past, as with Paige and Max on his tail his wrongdoings begin to catch up with him and make him sweat. This resurgence of the past is contrasted with the depressing present(s) and uncertain futures of Gina and Kelsey, who are just some of the women he has harmed. And with Max and Paige’s insistence on talking in convoluted metaphors and rhymes, the comedy in this episode is as consistent as always.

3. Fish Out of Water

BoJack in ‘Fish Out of Water’ – Season 3, Episode 4.
Photo courtesy of Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

BoJack spends almost the entire episode underwater at the Pacific Film Ocean Festival, where his movie Secretariat is premiering, so there is little to no dialogue, with BoJack only speaking in the opening scenes and at the very end of the episode. While underwater BoJack tries to work up the courage, and means, to apologise to Kelsey (the original director of Secretariat, who is also at the festival) but somehow he ends up stranded with a lost newborn seahorse (that he actually helps deliver on a bus) that has been seperated from it’s father. Together the pair rob a store, briefly get chased by a shark, dance through a neon seascape, and blow up a taffy factory all in pursuit of the baby seahorse’s dad.

In the final minute of the episode, after handing Kelsey an illegible handwritten apology note, BoJack discovers that his breathing helmet has a speaker option, a fact that would’ve made his day much easier. But the lack of dialogue actually says a lot here, and we get a visual story that is well-told and full-fledged. Body language and facial expressions do all the talking and BoJack’s look of awkward sadness as he feels jealous of the seahorse family, and waves goodbye to them, feels rather poignant. Also profound is how he looks at and acts around Kelsey as he longs to apologise to her. A lot is said in this episode without anyone actually saying anything at all.

4. Surprise!

Pickles, Mrs. Captain Peanutbutter, Captain Peanutbutter, and Mr. Peanutbutter in ‘Surprise!’ – Season 6, Episode 4. Photo courtesy of Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

The popular ‘Surprise Party Gone Wrong’ trope can feel pretty unoriginal after a while but this episode, with its’ own unique BoJack Horseman take on it, is anything but. At their own ‘surprise wedding’ orchestrated by Todd, Mr. Peanutbutter and Pickles argue about him cheating (with his ex-wife Diane, unbeknownst to her) while the guests (including Diane) quite literally hide in plain sight (please see the above picture). Meanwhile, Princess Carolyn and Todd chase baby Ruthie around, and BoJack interrogates Diane about her decision to move to Chicago. In the midst of their arguing Mr. Peanutbutter and Pickles also complain about their ‘well-hidden’ guests, and Pickles hilariously yells that she’s going to tell everyone about Mr. Peanutbutter cheating on her because ‘she’s a Gemini’, totally unaware that he’s already broken the news for her. To say that this episode is hectic is a serious understatement.

‘Surprise!’ is so full of jokes, both verbal and visual, that it’s probably one of the show’s funniest episodes ever. With main characters Diane, BoJack, Princess Carolyn, Ruthie, and Todd trapped with the unhappy couple they actually perform acrobatics just to stay in hiding. Although comedy makes up the vast majority of this episode, there are some fleeting tender moments: like when BoJack says that he wishes Diane could have seen him get his two-month sobriety chip, or when Diane says that she needs to know BoJack will be okay before she can leave LA, and he insists that he will be. ‘Surprise!’ is a masterclass in comedy, and gently weaving the occasional emotional moment into said comedy, making this episode one of the show’s best.

5. The Showstopper

BoJack in ‘The Showstopper’ – Season 5, Episode 11.
Photo courtesy of Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

This episode reminds me a lot of ‘That’s Too Much, Man!’, mainly because BoJack, in a drug-fuelled haze, plays a major role in the harm experienced by a woman close to him. While filming for his latest show Philbert with his co-star and girlfriend Gina Cazador, BoJack falls deeper and deeper into his addiction to painkillers. He soon starts to lose his grip on reality, and the line between Philbert and his real life starts to blur beyond recognition – the same way it does for the fictional character Philbert. At one point he mentions that he has a ‘rancid itch’ that something isn’t right, as if something is lurking beyond the horizon – he glimpses a giant balloon version of himself in the distance as he says this.

Eventually Gina confronts BoJack about his addiction, and he flashes between seeing Gina as his live-in girlfriend and seeing her as Sassy – her character on the show. Suddenly, as BoJack begins to strangle Gina, we realise that they’re actually on-set and filming an episode, and that Gina walked out on him once she found out about his addiction. There is a nauseating moment when the film crew delays helping Gina, for the sake of good TV, and we can hear her faintly choking in the background. It’s only a few seconds but it’s one of those moments where it feels like time stretches on without an end in sight. After he is pulled off of Gina by Mr. Peanutbutter and members of the film crew, in a scratchy and emotional voice, Gina asks BoJack “what the fuck is wrong with you?” Immediately after BoJack envisions himself staring up at the giant balloon of himself – indicating the very same thing that was lurking in the horizon, the thing that wasn’t quite right earlier in the episode, is him. This episode is an incredibly well-done exploration of addiction and the impact it has on people’s relationships with those closest to them. It’s honestly quite amazing that the show managed to cultivate such a raw and uncomfortable scene between an animated woman and an anthropomorphic horse.

Honourable Mentions

The Amelia Earhart Story

Sadie and Princess Carolyn in ‘The Amelia Earhart Story’ – Season 5 Episode 5.
Photo courtesy of Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

Princess Carolyn (A.K.A. PC) is one of my favourite characters, so I love any episode where she’s the star. She’s a determined, career-focused gal who wants to have it all and this exploration of a younger and more vulnerable PC five-seasons-deep is pretty enlightening. PC goes to North Carolina, where she grew up in poverty, to meet Sadie – a pregnant teenager who is putting her unborn baby up for adoption. Although by the end of the episode Sadie decides to keep looking for adoptive parents. Through flashbacks we learn more about Princess Carolyn’s experiences with pregnancy, and that she had her first miscarriage as a teenager after she accidentally fell pregnant by Cooper, the son of the wealthy Wallace family. Cutie Cutie Cupcake (PC’s mother) is ecstatic at the prospect of them getting money as a result – despite PC’s unhappiness about it all. But before things can really progress, PC miscarries and Cutie initially blames her, telling her that she has blown their chances and that ‘miscarriages don’t just happen,’ though she soon retracts this and instead comforts her daughter.

This episode completely reframes Princess Carolyn’s previous experiences with pregnancy and miscarriage in the series – in ‘See Mr. Peanutbutter Run’ she told her then-boyfriend Ralph that she had a miscarriage, but some time after it had actually happened. PC later starts fertility treatment but even though she successfully gets pregnant, she sadly miscarries again in ‘Ruthie’. Cutie’s reaction alone in this episode highlights that PC has probably always felt pressured to pursue motherhood, as women often are. Despite the moments of humour and silliness, this episode realistically and thoughtfully addresses the delicate topic of miscarriage. Although Princess Carolyn is an animated, talking pink cat she feels intrinsically human and is so relatable that it’s both impressive and touching. The show’s exploration of miscarriage through Princess Carolyn has even been called ‘so realistic it hurts’ by Jezebel, making this episode a brilliant one for PC fans like myself.

That’s Too Much, Man!

The silhouettes of BoJack and Sarah Lynn in ‘That’s Too Much, Man!’ – Season 3, Episode 11.
Photo courtesy of Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

During my rewatch a particular Sarah Lynn quote stood out to me. In Season 1 Episode 3, ‘Prickly-Muffin’, she says “I’m at a place right now where I never need to grow as a person or rise to an occasion because I can constantly just surround myself with sycophants and enablers until I die tragically young.” These words make the tragedy that is this episode sting even more. It starts with swelling, angelic music in the background as Sarah Lynn tries desperately hard to be a better, sober version of herself; from her balcony she even sings to the ‘buzzy bees’ and her gardeners. But all it takes is BoJack, with an invitation to party, for her to start downing alcohol first thing in the morning.

Over the course of a few months the pair go on an intense drug-fuelled bender, abusing cocaine, alcohol, and heroin, and blackout several times. As the viewer we blackout with BoJack – the screen suddenly flashes black and then they’re in a different room, or location entirely, having a completely different conversation. They drive under the influence, all the way to Ohio one point, eat doughnuts at an AA meeting, attempt to make amends to those they have wronged, and end up in a grimy motel. As they sit in that dingy motel watching the Oscars, Sarah Lynn is announced as an Oscar winner, which prompts her to realise that she doesn’t like anything about herself and wonders if she is doomed. In an attempt to console her BoJack takes her to the planetarium, which Sarah Lynn kept asking to go to, and they watch the stars together. As BoJack tells her that all that matters is the precious moment they are sharing together, she stops responding, with BoJack repeatedly asking “Sarah Lynn?” She never does respond. Her death is so unbearably sad, especially since it’s painfully obvious that had BoJack respected her sobriety, instead of capitalising on her vulnerability, it’s more than likely that she would have never died – and maybe she could have even become the architect she always wanted to be…