Arts, Television, Review

‘Big Mouth’ Returns with Raunchy Self-Awareness

Everyone’s favorite horribly graphic and sexually explicit cartoon full of potentially problematic portrayals of children’s sexualities has returned for its second season. And it’s just hitting its stride. Big Mouth Season Two premiered on Netflix on Friday, and it’ll only take you just under five hours to watch the entire season. If that’s not bingeable content, nothing is.

Big Mouth follows the hormone-addled middle school years of main characters Nick (Nick Kroll) and Andrew (John Mulaney). They are joined by a rotation of side characters whose voice cast looks like an all-star comedy lineup. Jessi (Jessi Klein), Jay (Jason Mantzoukas), and Missy (Jenny Slate) feature prominently in this season, just as last season. Along for the ride are voice appearances by Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, and Jordan Peele. Last season, audiences watched as Andrew accidentally ejaculated while dancing with a girl at the middle school dance, Jessi got her first period on a field trip to the Statue of Liberty, and Nick got upset because his penis was not as big as Andrew’s—a scene that prompted some of the very best dialogue ever featured in a television show, delivered by Nick’s father, Elliot Birch (Fred Armisen): “A man can touch another man’s penis, or even kiss it, very lightly, and still not be considered gay. When I was an undergraduate, your mother knows this story …” These examples are not even close to the funniest or raunchiest storylines in the first season, and this newest set of episodes is only dialling things up. We also see the return of Maury the Hormone Monster (also voiced by Kroll), a semi-imaginary monster that represents (and encourages) Andrew’s puberty-driven sex drive.

The very first episode spends most of its time on Andrew’s growing body and Nick’s lack thereof. Nick’s own hormone monster, Ricky (also Kroll), is a decrepit and disease-ridden beast. Nick compares himself to Andrew, in terms of pubic hair and ejaculation ability, and finds himself sorely lacking. This doesn’t mean, however, that we aren’t welcomed back into the warm embrace that Big Mouth promises. Jessi and Jay are still running away, but find their relationship strained by Jay’s constant intercourse with sentient pillows. The second episode presents a dichotomy to the first, focusing on the female characters in the show. In this episode, Missy and Jessi feel insulted and ashamed of their bodies as all the middle school boys fawn over a girl who has just developed breasts. Big Mouth answers this with a song and dance montage of body acceptance by dozens of cartoon women. And it only gets better (and weirder) from here.

Kroll and Mulaney are in top form in this season, returning from the first season and, of course, their Broadway play, Oh, Hello!. Mulaney’s consistent vocal insecurity and doubt lends Andrew a cadence that is quintessentially middle school. Kroll is a vocal powerhouse throughout the show. He is great as Nick, but he truly shines in the voices of the side characters like Maury, Coach Steve, and Lola. Big Mouth’s second season is admirable in that it doesn’t feel tired or kitchy when presenting your favorite characters from last season. Fans might have worried that the show wouldn’t have the magic that it once did with it’s simply weird set of characters (including Joe Walsh, Sylvester Stallone, and the ghost of Duke Ellington), but the second season delivers relief from this fear and even more enjoyment than the first.

The show is just as quotable, funny, and cringe-inducing as always. Episode plotlines are just relatable enough to hit home, but just as exaggerated and impossible as to be hilarious. The season is intensely rewatchable, and makes an incredible addition to an already stellar show. Big Mouth is not for everyone, or even for most people. A word of advice: if you aren’t on board by the first episode, the show is not for you. If you find yourself laughing along, however, stay tuned for the ride of your life with one of the funniest and most painfully self-aware comedies of the decade.

Featured Image by Netflix

October 7, 2018