Why this is a must watch show
What started out as a gross-out animated comedy series in 2017, Big Mouth has since become one of my favorite television shows period.
For those who are not aware, Big Mouth is an animated show created by Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett, along with the headliner: Nick Kroll. The story centers around a group of middle schoolers who are going through the stages of puberty, but in a very exaggerated and funny way. It follows Nick (Nick Kroll) and Andrew (John Mulaney). In both of the seasons, Andrew is accompanied by a “hormone monster” named Maury (Nick Kroll again), whereas Nick is still waiting for puberty. Other characters include Jessi (Jessi Klein), a friend of theirs who’s dealing with her parents bickering, Jay (Jay Mantzoukas), an edgy magician friend who is constantly getting everyone into predicaments, and Missy (Jenny Slate), a very socially-inept, sheltered child who takes interest in Andrew.
What makes this show great is the use of focusing on the characters deeply, and storylines that continue throughout each episode, wherein the consequences of one episode carry over into a later one. With many mainstream animated shows, they focus each episode on one event, and those events hardly carry any weight throughout the rest of the show. But, a trend that Netflix is doing with their animated properties (Bojack Horseman, Disenchantment, etc.) is by having linear stories with consequences, which is duly noted by me.
I feel like this show is written just for me. Oh, Hello on Broadway is my all-time favorite play and comedy set. John Mulaney is possibly my favorite comic living today. There was a lot of good things for me going into this show. It fits my humor. My type of humor is very broad, but I especially like unnoticeable absurdity. I like really quick gags that you don’t even realize at first, as in, a joke is told, and you don’t even have time to laugh at it, because it’s immediately moved on from. This is present in some of my favorite movies like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (my actual favorite film), and The Lego Movie.
Kroll and his team have running gags throughout the entire show that are so subtly hidden and well-placed, that it’s hard to spot them the first time, which is very admirable. I don’t like it, in comedy, when a joke is dragged on for too long. That is my biggest problem in mainstream comedy.
The animation is also very good. I like very simple looking animation, and the character design (though initially disturbing) is very interesting and unique. A lot of people have complained about the “ugliness” of the characters, but I don’t really agree with that. I think the “big mouths” are just a neat product of the design.
Whereas the first season focused on the absurdity of talking genitals, gay-fantasia style musical numbers with Freddie Mercury about sexuality, and pillow coitus, season two tends to stray away from that. Don’t worry, there definitely is a number of hilarious, dirty, and absurd gags here, but this season also displays the rapid emotional changes that adolescents go through during this time in their life. There is literally a new character in this season entitled “The Shame Wizard” (David Thewlis), whose sole purpose is to make the kids feel ashamed about their sexuality and changing body. This type of subtle brilliance is juxtaposed by absurd European twins, but it works. Usually this doesn’t work, trying to combine two separate tones in a piece of work, but here it totally works for me.
*Spoilers for season two, scroll down to the end of the spoiler section if you’d like to avoid them*
I would like to talk about why this show is so important for youth today. Sexuality and the expression of it has always been, and always will be, a controversial topic. In Big Mouth, these feelings are normalized, and let the audience know that it’s okay to have thoughts and feelings like these, and that they’re not alone. The show is very strange and unusual, but there is still this underlying theme of self-acceptance. The Shame Wizard brings out this theme magnificently.
In my favorite episode of the entire show, “Dark Side of the Boob” (S2, E8), the kids are all spending the night at a school lock-in. Each of the characters are individually dealing with some sort of issue prior to this, and the Shame Wizard decides to spread his wrath on everyone. In this episode, we see each character being broken down by him, and all of their insecurities are displayed boldly and publicly. This episode brings out the worst and most embarrassing in all of the main characters, and their character progression is heartbreaking. They start off in the very first episode of season one with a sense of innocence, and their dynamic change throughout the entire show leading to this moment is shocking. You almost aren’t even able to recognize them anymore. Their morals and principles completely change, and it’s all happening against their will.
The season ends with the gang traveling to the “Department of Puberty” and discover that Jessi is now being controlled by “The Depression Kitty”, an allegory for depression, who tries to coddle and isolate Jessi. This is such a haunting look at how depression can affect someone, and take control of one’s life. That is why I love this show. I love the hidden meaning by the weird things. I love how everything is so carefully selected and has some sort of meaning related to mental health or puberty.
Also, there is an amazing episode about Planned Parenthood, where it basically explains all of the different services that they provide and let people be aware that they’re not all just about abortions. It’s such a smart way to educate those uneducated about such an important topic.
*End of spoiler section*
If you have not seen Big Mouth, then I highly recommend that you do. If it’s not your thing, I can totally understand that as well. The show is not for everyone, not everything is. The absurd humor can be understandably off-putting. But, if you like really interesting, funny, relatable animation, then you should definitely check it out. Both seasons are available exclusively on Netflix.