At first glance, Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg’s Netflix comedy appears to be a vulgar cartoon about puberty and masturbation-addicted kids. In fact, I was sure I hated the show after watching the first episode. But after watching more and more of the first season, the many layers of humanity and genuine emotion are revealed.
The show focuses around best friends Nick (Nick Kroll), and Andrew, voiced by John Mulaney, who are facing the challenges of puberty and middle school, along with other pals Jessi, Jay, Missy and more. The kids deal with their changing bodies, relationships and feelings, all with the help (and often misguidance) of their Hormone Monster or Monstress, played mainly by Nick Kroll and Maya Rudolph.
The show came to be because of real-life best friends Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg, both of whom have been working in the world of comedy for a while now. Nick Kroll is known for “The Kroll Show,” “Oh, Hello on Broadway,” “The League” and a multitude of smaller roles, while Andrew Goldberg has written for “Family Guy” for some time. Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin, a husband and wife writing and directing team, were also involved in creating “Big Mouth.”
It stars some big names like Mulaney, Jordan Peele, Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen and Jenny Slate, and the cast is additionally involved in writing by offering their own embarrassing puberty stories for the show. The second season, released in October, dug even deeper into the world of sexuality, confusing emotions, complicated friendships and embarrassing middle school memories.
While Nick is worried about being small and a late bloomer, Andrew is busy being tormented with the awkwardness of puberty by the local Hormone Monster. Their friends Jay, Jessi and Missy have problems of their own, dealing with divorce and family drama, sexuality and self-image.
The second episode of the second season, titled “What is it About Boobs?” introduces the character Gina, played by Gina Rodriguez, whose developing chest gets everyone at school talking. While the boys cannot stop staring or thinking about her “new” body, the girls are hit with a bad case of insecurity and self-doubt. Jessi (Jessi Klein) and Missy (Jenny Slate) go to a nude spa with Missy’s mother who has had enough of hearing her daughter bad-mouth her own body.
After seeing the abundance of different body types of all shapes, colors and sizes, the girls realize that every body is beautiful. The Hormone Monstress proceeds to sing a wonderful song about the female body, and Jessi and Missy both join in the nude dancing—an idea that was difficult to achieve on a show. Jessi and Missy, both young girls, are able to dance on the show nude without being sexualized. How unheard of! The Hormone Monstress sings, “God made us in her image and that girl ain’t got no shame!” This episode is a beautiful addition to season one’s episode “Girls Are Horny Too,” where Jessi discovers her own sexuality, thanks to a steamy romance novel sweeping the school.
Season two also contains “The Planned Parenthood Show,” where the kids educate the misinformed and ridiculous Coach Steve about contraception, abortions and STIs. The episode pokes fun at sketch comedy shows and uses that format to talk about how risky it is to do an episode promoting Planned Parenthood. Episodes like this are so important for teens to get informed about essential information that they might not hear otherwise, and they do so in an entertaining way.
The end of season two also includes storylines for secondary characters about discovering one’s sexuality, whatever that may be, as well as tougher topics like depression, bullying, shame and guilt, toxic masculinity and family troubles. “Big Mouth” uses its raunchy comedy in the best way—to inform people and to make a sincere, honest and relatable show about the anxieties and hardships of puberty and growing up. It truly is one of a kind and I hope it is able to start more conversations about subjects that are taboo but should not be, like puberty, sex, shame and sexual and mental health.