Photo courtesy of Indiewire | The Netflix series Big Mouth released its second season on Oct 5. The show follows a group of sixth-graders as they experience the wonders and horrors of puberty. Cast members include John Mulaney and Jordan Peele.
Big Mouth is the most relatable show about puberty you will ever watch. I believe it’s very important for an animated program to use the fact that it’s animated to its advantage, and this is where Big Mouth shines — its visual representation of the horribly awkward turmoil of kids going through puberty. For example, the aggressive “hormone monster” literally shows how hormones can be monstrous, causing characters to do things they normally wouldn’t do and embarrassing them at every turn.
The newest season expands on these ideas perfectly, from simple sight gags like the hormone monster flying in on a blimp with a sign that reads “Andrew has a boner,” to whole new characters like “The Shame Wizard,” an anthropomorphized version of the kids’ shame played by a perfectly casted David Thewlis (you may remember him from an oddly similar role in Fargo season 3).
But the reason I don’t think this season deserves a 5/5 or even a 4/5 is that it doesn’t explore these ideas enough. It is bogged down with problems persisting from last season. I think there are two main problems, preachiness and over-inclusion of comedic relief characters.
I’ll start with the latter. I think Andrew and Nick as main characters are funny enough on their own (Andrew is voiced by John Mulaney, for gosh sake), yet the show finds it necessary to often ignore their storylines to give air time to characters like Coach Steve. Don’t get me wrong, Coach Steve is a very funny character, but he’d be a lot funnier if we weren’t seeing him constantly. It’s like he’s the only teacher in the school, and his voice and childish antics can get tiresome.
Jay seems to have gotten less human and more gross, yet he takes up plenty of screen time. It’s like the writers feel the show isn’t funny enough on its own without these two characters being over-the-top all the time, and they counteract how human the other characters feel.
Another way to dehumanize characters is treating them as vessels of propaganda. I’m not against a show trying to spread a good message, but the writers need to be subtle about it or at least not beat you over the head with it. Big Mouth season 2 forces its agenda down your throat. I’m not anti-Planned Parenthood, but you shouldn’t stop a season in its tracks so you can have a whole episode devoted to being a pro-Planned Parenthood clip show.
Similarly, it’s good to empower women, but when you have a whole musical number of naked women dancing and singing about how strong they are, it’s not funny or particularly entertaining (the song wasn’t even that good). It’s just boring. What happened to this show being clever and subtle while delivering a thoughtful and relevant message?
Overall, this season is good, and if you liked the first season you’ll definitely like this one. I truly believe this show has an amazing potential that it is simply not letting itself live up to.
By: Aidan Callahan | Guest Writer