Netflix’s new Big Mouth is their attempt at reaching back at everyone’s teenage self, and drawing all those wonderful memories back to the foreground. Big Mouth focuses on the effects of puberty on a group of middle schoolers. Of course, this leads to a whole lot of drama and humor. The humor is crude, immature, and well executed without being insulting or offensive. I can’t help but say Netflix succeeded in bringing out the young, perverted-joke loving, awkward me. You’d normally expect this to end up like going through your old Facebook posts and messages, cringey. On the contrary, it was actually fun to revisit those times and look back on how confused and stupid I was.
The voice acting and overall ease of empathizing with the characters was something I really enjoyed throughout the show. No matter how much we all hate to admit it, we were all silly middle-schoolers at some point. Nobody ever brings it up, but we were all probably pretty damn weird, and Big Mouth draws you back into that very quickly. The problems that the characters encounter are not weird or out-of-the-ordinary either, they’re just normal problems and this is where the show shines. Big Mouth uses middle-schooler solutions to real middle-schooler problems to the effect that they create a hilarious show that doesn’t seem totally unbelievable to the viewers.
John Mulaney, who’s already a bit awkward in his own respects plays the main character: Andrew Glouberman. Andrew is a middle-schooler who’s just starting to feel the effects of puberty, and that means he has to deal with “hormone monster.” The show uses these “hormone monsters” on the kids who are going through puberty to explore the kids deepest, nastiest, grossest thoughts, but also to teach the kids lessons about life. The ghost of Duke Ellington, played by Jordan Peele also serves as a moral compass to the kids. Peele plays Duke as a moral guide that’s stuck in between death and life.
The hormone monsters were one of the most interesting concepts in a TV show that I’ve encountered. They’re just large, ugly monsters that bring out the worst pubescent and sexual thoughts. I thought it was interesting to think that while the kids’ hormone monsters were doing bad things (ex. one punches a hole in a wall), it was likely just the kid doing it and it could be explained with hormones. The monsters constantly interrupt and yell at the characters, trying to dictate their actions in the worst directions possible.
But the show is not just an empty shell of crass humor, there are lessons that are learned throughout the show, and the characters seem to grow mentally as the show goes on. There are more than just a few dick and vagina jokes, and Big Mouth uses some of these to show how the characters are learning more about their bodies. It’s something that’s often ignored in TV shows about young kids, but young kids are confused, and this show captured that well.
The social awareness of Big Mouth is very surprising, considering its extremely crude nature. Coming into watching the show I was expecting some jokes that could have been construed as offensive to select groups of people, but it was shocking when there were little to none of these. The humor in the show really goes out of its way to not offend specific peoples and I hope this is a trend that Netflix continues, and we start to see more on TV and on the big screen.
The art style in Big Mouth is not for everyone, in fact I’ve had a few people tell me that they couldn’t continue the show solely because of the art style. I personally loved it and thought it fit the crudeness of the humor in the show. The title also just happens to work because all of the characters have physically big mouths (they do talk a lot too, though). I really enjoyed this show and I’d put it up there with my favorite adult cartoons, along with Archer and Rick and Morty. The show explores all of the common middle school tropes and stereotypical problems in ways that I couldn’t’ve expected. I think Big Mouth does a great job at showing that puberty does not have to be a completely awkward or uncomfortable process, and that it’s okay to talk about. I hope Netflix and other studios continue in this direction with comedies and possibly other genres, Big Mouth was great.
Final Grade: 88/100