Let me just say this: Big Mouth is not for the faint-hearted, the queezy-stomached or the blushed-cheeks.
It’s been on Netflix for several months now, so consider me a later bloomer, but it’s a show that is never going to not be relevant. Big Mouth is an animated comedy born from a supergroup of comedians, including Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg. I think it goes without saying it was inspired by their own experiences, and those of everyone else in the world. In short, it gives its audience a fun, sex-positive take on puberty and everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) that comes with it. In not-so-short, it has psychosomatic monsters convincing seventh graders to masturbate while dead jazz legends sing and cartoon penises play sports.
It really is quite familiar. It follows a group of middle schoolers experiencing puberty at different levels and paces. Boy Meets World? The Wonder Years? Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret? Haven’t we seen this before?
Nick (Kroll) and Andrew (John Mulaney) are best friends. Andrew is beginning to experience puberty at full force, and continues to be forced by his “hormone monster” Maury (Kroll, but with more grit and less filter). Maury visits him at the worst possible moments (i.e., slow dances) and gives voice to his most crude and salacious desires — especially the most lewd and unwanted. Nick, on the other hand, has yet to start puberty and is confused why everyone around him is acting weird, especially when he catches a glimpse of Andrew’s more-developed member.
Things get awkward really quick.
The awesome thing about Big Mouth is that it’s not just a personification of the ragingly-hormonal boys you sat next to in science class (I’m still haunted by the word organism). Take the names of the first five episodes for example: “Ejaculation,” “Everybody Bleeds,” “Am I Gay,” “Sleepover: A Harrowing Ordeal of Emotional Brutality” and “Girls Are Horny Too.” Need I say more? It’s an honest yet tender account of puberty in the most refreshing way. From finding pleasure in a pillow hole with organic lentil soup and first-period-on-white-shorts field trip woes to the confusion of sexuality and revolutionary introductions to porn, you’ll feel it in your soul. Though it might seem exaggerated to some, to many it will be laughable and oddly heartwarming as you say, “Oh my god, exactly,” every few minutes.
It may all seem to be thrown off when you see unexplained cameos from the ghosts of folks like Freddie Mercury, Socrates, Antonin Scalia (on the drums!) and Nick’s good attic-dwelling-friend Duke Ellington, but stay with me here.
Also, you’ll never look at Sylvester Stalone the same ever again.
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about it is the recognition that hey! Girls deal with more than just shedding uterine walls! Big Mouth stays grounded even in its most ridiculous moments (i.e., Jewish penises and the seduction of diarrhea-inducing hor dourves), acknowledging the differences and similarities boys and girls experiences during this magically terrible time. Thankfully, there’s also a hormone monstress, the curvaceous and sashaying Connie (Maya Rudolph). She coos and growls her way into Nick and Andrew’s friend Jessi’s life, saying all the things Jessi is too busy blushing or rolling her eyes to say. Particularly, when it comes time to her bat mitzvah, our girl Connie spits the truth. “You are a woman now and this is what women do. We suck up all the bullshit life dumps up on us and keep smiling through it all in our boxy-ass dresses.”
And while it’s normal to see Jessi and her female pals comparing themselves to one another, Big Mouth gains more points by confirming boys do the exact same thing.
The question of young love is also present, naturally. From realizing dating your friends is a horrible idea to the almighty first kiss/first date/first breakup sequence, your heart will break for these kids, but the promise of their many years ahead will stitch it back together.
But, my god, it is vulgar — in the best way, because it’s all so real. This harrowing reality never could have been voiced by real 13-year-olds, but that’s the point. This show is for adults to look back on and laugh with a painful amount of nostalgia and grief, coming to understand how freaking normal the entire thing was.
Mixed in there between all the solid dick jokes and uncomfortable adolescent coming-of-age moments is a sweetness that is just as delectable as it is honest. The show promotes a sex positivity that this current generation, while headed into full-on adulthood, can savour and pass on to the kids for generations to come who will go through the same things as Nick and Andrew and you and I. Adolescent sexual exploration is that freakish spot where childhood and adulthood slam head-on. They have wild grown-up desires yet they’re babies. In Big Mouth, there are enough obscene sex jokes to keep you laughing through the 10 episodes, but a poignancy to keep you watching, always starting with a brilliant and appropriate cover of Black Sabbath’s “Changes” by the late Charles Bradley.
Even though you’ll be sad it goes by so quick, the first season is enough to leave you satisfied. (Get it?) The good news is a second one is set to drop this year. If you find yourself unsure if you can handle anymore, take it from Andrew’s mom: “Be afraid of things.” Just like you and I, the Big Mouth crew is a whole lot of scared and a whole lot of intrigued by provocative stuff. But whether you’re 12 or 25, everybody’s learning and everybody’s scared.