Netflix has been a source of streaming video all over the world for years, but the one market that the company couldn't crack for quite a while was China. Back in April, however, a deal was struck between Netflix and Chinese streaming service iQiyi that would allow certain Netflix originals to stream in China, and one of those originals was none other than the bizarrely hilarious animated series BoJack Horseman. iQiyi carried BoJack Horseman for all of two days before pulling it, saying this about why:
All episodes of BoJack Horseman that were available on iQiyi were pulled on June 21, only two days after they first debuted to Chinese subscribers on June 19. iQiyi's statement to Bloomberg doesn't give a whole lot away about why the episodes had to be blocked, but it's clear that the content of BoJack Horseman was deemed objectionable to Chinese media regulators. Only BoJack has been pulled; both Making a Murderer and Chef's Table were also released this month, and they are currently still available on iQiyi.
Given that BoJack Horseman is a dark comedy about anthropomorphic animals and doesn't hold back from commentary on just about everything, it was a bit surprising that it was selected to debut in the Chinese media market at all. Of all the original comedies in the Netflix library, I would not have guessed that BoJack would be given a shot in China. Now, it seems that Chinese authorities had something to say about it.
Apparently, BoJack probably should have never gone up in the frist place. The deal between Netflix and iQiyi states that Netflix needs to give Chinese authorities lead time to evaluate shows and censor them according to their guidelines. The approval process reportedly takes at least a month; perhaps BoJack was released before authorities got the required time to review the episodes and decide whether they were appropriate for the Chinese public.
All things considered, it's a shame that iQiyi subscribers might not get to see BoJack Horseman any time soon. While the comedy certainly isn't going to be everybody's favorite, it's at least worth checking out for the stellar voice cast and the insane underwater episode from Season 3. The show does push a lot of boundaries, but it also does so within the fictional world of anthropomorphic animals and puns aplenty. Even the more caustic jokes have a little less sting when they're about characters with names like "Mr. Peanutbutter."
We'll have to wait and see if any further problems between Netflix and iQiyi arise. iQiyi is presumably still planning on releasing Mindhunter and Stranger Things Season 2 later this year. For those of us in the U.S., there are plenty of shows available streaming, so be sure to take a gander out our Netflix premiere guide.