Arts

Netflix’s ‘Big Mouth’ explores puberty with gross-out yet endearing humor

Netflix's new animated comedy, "Big Mouth," released Sept. 29, is available to stream.

Image By: Photo courtesy of Collider

Fans of Nick Kroll, rejoice. He’s back and more disgusting than ever with his brand new animated series, “Big Mouth.” The series follows three friends as they journey into that awkward time of life we’ve all tried our hardest to forget: puberty.

The three protagonists are voiced by Kroll, John Mulaney and Jessi Klein, but the star-studded cast doesn’t stop there. We also get voice talent from Jenny Slate, Jordan Peele, Chelsea Peretti, Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen and Jason Mantzoukas, to form what may be the most stacked cast in any show ever. The characters they create are extremely eclectic and weird, but as a unit, they work perfectly with one another.

I binged the entire series over the weekend and, afterward, had to get out of the house to get some fresh air. The humor is pretty repulsive — at some points in the show it teeters on Seth Macfarlane-esque humor — and, for the most part, it works. The subject matter of the show is pretty gross in general. Puberty is a time when our bodies and emotions are going wild — in the show, they’re in in the form of the Hormone Monster and Monstress. But even with the subject matter, the show sometimes relies on pretty vile humor that isn’t all that smart or genuine.

However, when the humor was on, it was really on. There are some moments in the show that are really sincere and smart. In episode seven, “Requiem for a Wet Dream,” we get a glimpse of first loves as Andrew (Mulaney) and Missy (Slate) awkwardly deal with their feelings toward each other — which includes a very cute musical number. But the story arc surrounding Jessi (Klein) is the standout of the season, in my opinion. She struggles with her impending womanhood in a way that is so earnest and often underrepresented in media today. It looks at female sexuality in a really sex-positive way — like in the fifth episode, “Girls are Horny Too.” It’s a refreshing perspective when raunchy-comedy has been so male-dominated for so long.

Another standout of the season is the friendship between Nick (Kroll) and Andrew. Andrew is stuck right in the middle of puberty, while Nick is impatiently waiting for his body to start catching up to his best friend’s. “Big Mouth” reminds us that not only are our bodies changing during puberty, but our relationships are, too. The friendship between the two boys is very sincere and wholesome — even through all the masturbation jokes. No matter what, at the end of the day, they’re open and honest with one another and never judgemental. In the third episode, Andrew begins to question his sexuality and is really embarrassed by it and also terrified to tell Nick that he may be gay because he’s afraid it will ruin their friendship. Nick not only sticks by his side, but helps him figure it out. The chemistry between the two on the show is probably in part because of Kroll and Mulaney, two off-screen best friends who just finished up a broadway run of their show “Oh Hello,” which is also on Netflix.

“Big Mouth” is disgusting, awkward and heartfelt, which speaks universally to puberty in general. It’s consistently honest, even at times when it probably shouldn’t be, but that’s what makes it so genuine.

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