No one will ever accuse Big Mouth of being tasteful or subtle. This animated comedy about a bunch of young junior high students undergoing the trials and tribulations of puberty and sexual awakenings with the help of creatures called Hormone Monsters is probably the single most disgusting show that has ever been on television. People hate it for its subject matter and decry the endless and ever more depraved parade of sexual humor but, to be honest… I kinda think this show is beaitiful.
It’s disgusting, don’t get be wrong… but it’s disgusting with a purpose. South Park is disgusting with a purpose and it’s been around for 20 years, remaining pointed and topical. Paradise PD is disgusting without a purpose and even those of you who watched it are struggling to remember what it is.
I’m not a prude. To be honest, I love disgusting humor. Heck, I’m a long time fan of Brickleberry and Drawn Together, but when there is a point and the show actually has something to say, I think it makes the experience all the more memorable.
Picking up after last season (because that’s how the linear progression of time works), some of the gang go to camp where Andrew and Nick are still on the outs, Jessi is moving to the city with her mom, Matthew has his first boyfriend, and Jay has come to terms with his bisexuality.
There are several storylines this season, some more memorable than others, but I do want to touch on the most effective.
First of all, let’s talk Missy. With the growing power of Black Lives Matter, several white voice actors wisely stepped away from voicing black characters and, among them, was Jenny Slate, the voice of Missy. Rather than allowing this transition to happen without fanfare, Missy is given a season-long story where she finds her racial identity with Slate continuing to voice the character through most of it (with Missy actually commenting at one point that she’s voiced by a 33 year old white woman). It’s only after being exposed to black culture through her aunt and cousins that Missy evolves into a new person who embraces her racial identity and earns her new voice supplied by Ayo Edebiri.
It was very clever and I applaud the writers of this show for facing it head on instead of letting it pass without a mention.
Secondly, let’s talk Matthew. He’s been mostly a one-note joke for the show’s run, the sassy, mean gay character and it wasn’t until last season that the series began to develop him. This season, they took it a step further and gave him a couple of very nice storylines about not only accepting who he is and what it means to be gay, but also struggling with the acceptance of his family. For a character so awash in stereotypes at the beginning, I found it very refreshing for a series featuring a gay character to say, “Hey, you don’t have to lose your virginity to be a gay person” unlike every other television series I’ve watched where the gay characters toss it around any change they get.
Am I saying that a gay person should be ashamed to have sexual relations? Absolutely not. I’m saying that it’s great to see a series take a stand against the peer and societal pressure to have sex when a person is not ready to. It’s admirably wholesome.
Matthew’s second story unfolds when his mother finds texts between him and his boyfriend and discovers that her son is gay. She has a very difficult time accepting this and that rejection is very hard to watch. I particularly enjoyed not only the drama, but also that the mother character wasn’t demonized for her rejection of who Matthew is. She struggles with it, agonizes over it, and it tears her apart. She’s not right, but she’s also not comfortable with being wrong. The fact that the show goes on to show Matthew’s father accepting him and leaves the story with his mom open ended gives us a great sense of closure and being unresolved at the same time.
Jay gets a girlfriend this season and it’s none other than Lola who is, without a doubt, the funniest character on the show. At first, I was a little wary of this pairing, but it actually works out very nicely. Both Jay and Lola suffer from loneliness, both question themselves, and both fill each other’s needs in ways I didn’t anticipate. That and they are incredibly funny and inappropriate together. I thought that the analogy of the dragon at the castle gates with very clever.
Finally, Nick’s story this season centers around himself and his own image of who he is becoming. I’ve said before that Nick is a fairly terrible person and this season, his own realization that he is a terrible person who is damaging to those around him manifests in various ways, the centerpiece of which is a post-apocalyptic story set in the future where Nick is a conniving game show host trying to escape the end of the world with all of the other rich, privileged people but, before he does, he wants to bring Jessi with him, but the problem is, he ruined his relationship with her years ago.
This story comes back in the finale when Nick finds himself kicked out of his own body by the ghost of his future self (this is complicated, okay?) and has to not only apologize to those he’s wronged, but also to himself.
Big Mouth really did it this season. The show explores topics bravely, allows characters to grow by putting them through trials, and tells entertaining stories with a ton of humor. While I will admit that some of the storylines, such as Andrew and Nick ending their friendship and Jessi moving to the city, were not anywhere near as involving as the others, the season was, on the whole, a complete winner with its analogies and metaphors and it’s not so subtle look at puberty.