Binge or Purge? Big Mouth.
Netflix’s new adult-oriented cartoon has plenty of raunchy humor and engaging characters to draw you in.
Way back in September, I highlighted Big Mouth as an original series to look out for on Netflix. After having put its early episodes through the paces, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the show. I knew going in that it was going to trade heavily in bodily functions, being the story of three pre-teens who are visited by a pair of hormone monsters, but I was impressed with how much I grew to like the characters. When all of the wet dream and tampon jokes have run their course, Big Mouth has a solid group of animated kids who I was happy to spend time with.
Big Mouth, Season 1.
Nick, Andrew, and Jessi are three friends on the edge of adolescence. Andrew is the first to go through the change, and he gets a rude introduction to his developing body care of Maurice the Hormone Monster. As the others blossom, they too start seeing the Hormone Monster…and his counterpart, Connie the Hormone Monstress.
Episode 1: Ejaculation.
Andrew’s sudden onset of puberty is causing him problems. First, it’s creating tension between him and his best friend Nick, who hasn’t seen any changes yet. Second, there’s a giant hairy monster living in his room urging him to touch himself constantly. On top of all that, there’s a school dance and he hasn’t found a date, while Nick has stumbled into a date with their mutual friend Jessi.
The first episode takes some time to get used to. Maurice the Hormone Monster is abrasive and lecherous, and he is either hilarious or cringe worthy. The introductory episode makes you wonder if its going to live in a state of constant gross-out gags, but you get a sense that the world of Big Mouth has bigger potential. The kids are interesting and surrounded by a fairly deep roster of secondary characters. Despite some broad humor, there’s also smart writing that captures the feeling of leaving childhood behind. There’s just enough to make a second look worthwhile.
Episode 2: Everybody Bleeds.
Jessi becomes the second of the trio to experience puberty, and is greeted by a new visitor – Connie the Hormone Monstress. Her arrival is poorly timed as a school outing to the Statue of Liberty looms, and with it the specter of Jessi getting her first period during the trip. Adding to the chaos, Jessi and Nick are becoming a power couple after the school dance, a situation neither anticipated or wants.
Big Mouth hits its stride in the second episode. Jessi is a great character, and Connie is a much more subtle temptress than Maurice. Lightly hidden under all of her persuasions is damning satire about the expectations and assumptions about women in society. She’s a nice break from Maurice’s more brassy humor. This episode also has a nice song and dance number, which becomes a running strength for the series.
Episode 3: Am I Gay?
Maurice continues to put the screws to Andrew, this time by getting him to question his sexuality while watching a trailer for The Rock’s latest action movie. Jessi and Nick have a flame out in their relationship, and school tribalism is driving a wedge between all three children.
The series keeps getting better. All three kids have started to inhabit their own personalities, humor types, and social niches. Having both monsters in play keeps the humor balanced. There is another excellent song, featuring the ghost of Freddie Mercury. The writers leverage some great pop culture references without making this feel like a call-out show like the LEGO movies. After three episodes, I can confidently make my decision about Big Mouth.
Binge or Purge?
Despite a rocky start, Big Mouth has me hooked. I really like the characters, both the main trio and the smaller helpers who surround them. While it has plenty of bawdy humor, it blends it with social commentary, winks to pop culture, and an almost aching sense of nostalgia. The world Andrew, Nick and Jessi live in feels alive, and the moment of time they’re passing through is evoked richly. My brief stint in the hormone-addled world of Big Mouth made want to watch more. This is a solid binge-worthy pick to add to your growing selection on Netflix.