BigEyes here, with a look into a relatively new animated series!
I just finished watching the full season of Big Mouth, and I don’t even know where to begin. It’s a show about young teens going through puberty, posted on Netflix at the end of September. I remember seeing the trailer for it months ago, and thinking that this is going to be awful. But was it? I made it all the way through the last episode, so maybe?
Big Mouth has been getting some surprisingly positive feedback, and dumbfounded feedback toward the positive feedback. I was intrigued, so I took a gander. Early on in the show, it’s pretty questionable who exactly the show for. Middle schoolers that are currently going through this, or adults that have been through it and can dwell in the nostalgia? I want to say both.
For the sake of simplicity, I am going to refer to sex and gender as they were known before label loving Tumblr decided to expand upon it in the recent years. By no means am I deliberately trying to devalue or demean anyone who doesn’t feel that they fit in the binary.
The show itself is very sex positive, and attempts to normalize sexual self discovery by putting it out in the open, and actually does a surprisingly good job. While some scenes may be genuinely shocking, such as a thirteen year old girl having a conversation with her vagina, it can also be strangely educational. Educational in terms of some anatomy, but mostly understanding the emotions that both sexes go through dealing with these changes.
There’s plenty of humor thrown in, especially with the invention of the “hormone monsters”, reflecting the most horrifically primal thoughts and urges a hormonal teenager could have in a comical manner. This is also where things get a little confusing. Apparently those who have begun puberty can only see the hormone monster of their gender. All of the boys know the monster, all of the girls know the monstress. In the fantasy part of this show, the monsters make the most sense.
There’s a ghost of Duke Ellington that is around too, that all of the kids can see, and sometimes adults, that the main characters occasionally go to for advice. There is zero explanation for where this ghost came from or why anything else about it, but because he is voiced by Jordan Peele, and his existence has made way for the ghost of Freddie Mercury to sing about being gay: I’m not going to complain. After more reading, I found that it was actually Jordan Peele that did that spot on Freddie Mercury performance!
Check out this clip! It is FABULOUS!
The main characters are all going through their own emotional drama dealing with the natural changes in their lives, inspired by puberty of course, but probably moreso driven by the fact that more than half of their parents are terrible people. Thank you Netflix, for once again delivering a real show with relatable issues.
About half way through the season, the episode titled “Pillow Talk” came with a weak B story about one of the main characters impregnating his pillow that seemed like it wasn’t going anywhere, and I was glad because it was awful. Then the pillow was brought back as a part of one of the many cliff hangers in the last episode, not a fan of that. It seemed here, was when the show finally gave up. Or so I thought, but a pretty quick comeback was made. The last three or four episodes were actually good. There’s some solid character drama and I actually wanted to know where it went. I couldn’t believe it, when only a few episodes ago I was certain there was no way they could keep this up any longer than a season without becoming completely stale.
The art took some getting used to, but wasn’t too difficult. There was one detail that really stuck out throughout the show: those multi-shade palettes used on the eyes. As an artist, I know that the eyes on any creature are what brings life to a piece. This had to have been a deliberate choice, to humanize all of the characters. In the kids, the iris shades are the most varied, giving them depth and the appearance of innocence. While in the adults there is less variation, making the palettes more flat and the eyes duller as life has taken its toll on them. The father of the main character Andrew, whose only defining trait is his addiction to scallops that he is clearly allergic to, has the flattest palette and is easily the worst person in the show.
I didn’t like Big Mouth at first, I didn’t want to. But honestly, it grew on me. If it’s targeted at kids transitioning into adulthood, they are treated with respect, and it’s so important that the message that all of this is normal gets to them. If it’s for adults, it’s nice to look back and laugh at our awkward years in the many relatable situations presented. Except for the pregnant pillow bit, fuck that fucking pillow--go die in a fire. On the surface, Big Mouth looks like another family guy clone, but it’s actually something else and is definitely worth talking about.
Big Mouth is streaming on Netflix now, check it out!