Diane Nguyen (born March 19, 1980) is one of the lead characters in the animated Netflix series BoJack Horseman. She's a human Vietnamese-American writer, "misunderstood intellectual," and third-wave feminist from Boston, who lived with her well-off and famous ex-husband, Mr. Peanutbutter, until their divorce in Season 5.
She was voiced by Allison Brie.
Why She Rocks
- Allison Brie absolutely knocks it out of the park with her voice acting as the conflicted woman.
- Her journey is one on which her feminism and integrity are continually tested, with many of her episodes highlighting the extreme misogyny and double standards of the industry. In “Hank after Dark” (season two), she calls out beloved family entertainer, Hank Hippopopolis, who has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, but is yet to be punished for his actions. She’s often the voice of reason who starts conversations about disgusting practices that others have wilfully ignored.
- Her first appearance in the series has her serve as the ghostwriter of famous actor BoJack’s memoir – observing his behavior, getting caught up in his escapades, and having deep and meaningful chats with him, and yet she's able to avoid becoming the girl who just serves as the MPDG archetype. Throughout Season 1 she subverts that trope by writing an unflattering tell-all biography, which she leaks online to spite BoJack’s arrogance, then she refuses to tell him he’s a good person to flatter his fragile male ego.
- During an early episode of the series, it's shown and stated the she had grown up in a harsh family with three lazy older brothers (four if you count the black sheep) who would belittle and poke fun at her, along with an uncaring father who didn’t support anything she did, and a spiteful and verbally abusive mother who resents and nags her for leaving her terrible home life to actually make something of herself. So in a way, she had an abusive childhood similar to BoJack's which would cause her to get a determined, overly-dedicated, and somewhat aggressive nature.
- In fact, one of the reasons Diane is drawn to BoJack is because his TV show genuinely affected her as a child. It provided 30 minutes of escapism from her horrible childhood, and gave her hope for a functional family. The power of entertainment on the cultural landscape, and on a personal level to enact change, is a recurring theme, and in BoJack, Diane is often the one shouting for a revolution.
- She's a friendly, intelligent, nerdy third-wave feminist woman who is shy at social gatherings but ironically bold and absolutely not afraid to stand her ground when necessary. Her tireless efforts and genuine compassion ultimately provide the emotional heart of the show. As he hopelessly self-destructs season after season, she’s the one on an arc of self-discovery and self-improvement, constantly striving to be better even as she screws up along the way. Not bad for a side character, which brings us to the next point...
- Even though she's a semi-side on the show, she gets just as much dynamic and value as BoJack, she's possibly the second-most complex character on the show, behind only the title character. Since the very first episode, she had said “You’re responsible for your own happiness” which would serve as a very important mantra for all five of the leads.
- During another Diane-centered episode Season 5's "The Dog Days Are Over" the depth of her character, and her willingness to grow is encapsulated even more. She flies to Hanoi, Vietnam (her howntown) to research an article and -- as she tells herself -- to get to grips with her identity. But really, she’s once again running away from her problems.
- She can act a bit self-righteous at certain times. One notable example is shown in "Brrap Brrap Pew Pew". When Diane accepts a job ghost-writing tweets for celebrities, she accidentally tweets about her abortion from pop star Sextina Aquafina’s account, and has to spend a lot of time enacting damage control. However, when Sextina releases a song about it (sample lyric: “I'm a baby killer!”), Diane acts self-righteous. Though, near the episode's ending, ideas about role models and empowerment through pop music are exquisitely explained to her by a young woman in an abortion clinic waiting room. So even then, she's able to have a natural change in perspective that's rare for television.