Review: Why ‘Big Mouth’ is so gross, why that’s okay

Photo courtesy of Vox

Story by Naffie Njie / Contributing Writer

A brand new season of “Big Mouth” has arrived, and fans couldn’t wait to binge the entire thing in one night. Netflix has hundreds of other comedies, but none of them strikes the same tone that this show does. It’s rousing, and we find ourselves relating to so many embarrassing and immature moments that it almost hurts to watch. Almost. It’s quite popular because of these uncomfortable and hilarious elements. Although “Big Mouth” is not for children, it’s not particularly geared toward adults like “Futurama” or “South Park” are. The show’s audience is mostly teens and young adults, and rightfully so because after 30, adults seem to lose their enthusiasm for comedy shows about children masturbating. That might be due to the fact they’re in devoted relationships and sexually active, or maybe they’re still entertaining themselves with a more adult alternative such as college porn videos over the internet. Either way, there’s less appeal for some reason.

“Big Mouth” centers around a group of middle school kids who are all experiencing adolescence and puberty in different yet equally uncomfortable ways. Nick Birch is a tiny, charismatic, courageous, “large-mouthed” boy whose body hasn’t begun to “develop” yet. His best friend, Andrew Glouberman, is a big-and-tall, awkward kid who has sped through pubescence ungracefully. They are friends with Jessi Glaser, a headstrong, smart and sarcastic girl and Jay Bilzerian, a disgusting and troubled kid who’s obsessed with magic and sex. Missy Foreman-Greenwald is a sweet, nerdy and nervous girl who has an interesting relationship with Andrew. Many other characters move the story like Matthew, a flamboyant, gay student who loves to document in-school drama, the “Ghost of Duke Ellington” and Coach Steve, the unfortunately lonely and incompetent gym teacher who may be mentally disabled. Andrew, Jessi and Missy all have hormone monsters, Maurice and Connie, who guide them through their puberty and make them do gross and ridiculous things.

Season two opens with Jessi and Jay on the run together to escape their hapless family situations. They quickly realize that they can’t survive on their own or live together comfortably, so they come home. While their friends at home worry about them, they are also dealing with their own blunders; Nick feels he is too small and worries he’ll never be normal, and Andrew feels like a floppy, over-developed giant. Gina, a new character with “the best boobs in her grade,” begins an endearing friendship with Nick after the entire school, including him, comments on her body.

This season covers many topics like divorce (Jessi’s parents), body image (people’s reaction to Gina’s breasts and others’ issues with their bodies), embarrassment (virtually the entire cast making shoddy decisions) and women’s health (the kids explain STDs, contraceptives and the resources that Planned Parenthood provide to Coach Steve).

All in all, it’s just as horrendously funny as the last season; however, this one focuses on a specific theme: shame. Shame touches every single character and even manifests in the “Shame Wizard,” a ghost-like man who brings dark thoughts and dishonor to the children. The series’ personification of emotions and puberty is genius, and the “Shame Wizard” is a decently sufficient addition to that.

“Big Mouth” never holds back when it comes to crude, filthy jokes and subject matter like Coach Steve’s virginity and upsetting backstory, Jay’s public displays of overt sexuality and Andrew’s constant masturbation. No doubt they wouldn’t shy away from showing other elements, like options, in the future. It is quite sincere and almost touching in its attempts to chronicle puberty and preteen misery, and this season does just that. It just works, and we’re not tired of it yet.

This show seems to maintain a sweet and charming tone while hitting us over the head with painfully uncomfortable subject matter and sometimes scarring visuals. It shouldn’t be this well-delivered considering the show’s concept, but the fact that it’s animated and has a malleable storyline with fantastic characters helps the marketing. “Big Mouth” is distasteful and nauseating and obnoxious, and we love it because it’s about all of us.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Sydney Wagner, email

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