Western Courier

“Big Mouth” illuminates change with laughter

Nicholas Ebelhack, Editor-in-chief

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“Big Mouth” is a test in how long you can be uncomfortable while watching television, but if you pass that test, you will be rewarded with a unique and personable form-defying animated comedy.

The Netflix original series comes from the mind of Nick Kroll, notable for other wacky comedies including “The League” and “Kroll Show,” and explores every awkward moment from your junior high puberty transformation. Whether it is your first period, your first experience with pornography or your first kiss, Kroll is not afraid to
tackle the insecurities you have repressed since the eighth grade.

The show is filled with plenty of gross-out humor about vomit, semen, periods and anything and everything in between, but fortunately the show doesn’t focus on it as much as I thought it would after watching the trailer.

The opening credits say everything you need to know going in, “I’m going through changes.” This is not a show asking you to laugh at children riding a rollercoaster of hormones; it is about reflecting on your experiences so that you maybe find a bit of humor in yourself.

This awkward subject material works significantly better than expected. “Big Mouth” is probably the one of the most universally relatable series to come out of Netflix because everyone who watches it (or at least everyone who is of appropriate age) will be able to relate the show’s characters to themselves while they were going through puberty.

Kroll and his supporting cast of voice actors succeed in bringing these situations to life. Kroll himself voices Nick Birch, the lone pre-pubescent boy in his group of friends who watches everyone else go through their transformation before he does himself.

Alongside and generally overshadowing Kroll is Andrew Glouberman, voiced by John Mulaney, Nick’s best friend who deals with enough untimely erections and awkward encounters for both of them. There could not be a better voice actor for this character than Mulaney, as his standup lends itself well to the character. Listening to Andrew talk is almost like listening to Mulaney perform standup, he really knows how to make uncomfortable sub-ject material enjoyable for his audience.

Mulaney and Kroll are also joined by Jessi Klein, voice of Jessi Glasner, who undertakes puberty from the female perspective, and Jason Mantzoukas, voice of Jay Blizerian, who’s hormonal transformation leads him from one obsession to the next.

The children are surrounded by a host of other wacky characters, such as the overly sex positive parents of Nick, Elliot and Diane (voiced by Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph) and the ghost of deceased jazz musicianDuke Ellington, who is voiced by Jordan Peele and occasionally gives advice in the attic of Nick’s house to the troubled teenagers.

Two of the more entertaining characters though are the Hormone Monster and Monstress, voiced by Kroll and Rudolph respectively. These characters, invisible to anyone but Andrew and Jessi most of the time, represent the impulsive, frantic and self-conscious attitude that comes with puberty. Aside from providing a few good laughs, these well-voiced characters are incredibly dynamic and poke fun at
the thought  that puberty is a scary thing with their overall goofiness.

While the show focuses on puberty primarily, the show still tries to shed light on the fact that once puberty is over you will still experience uncomfortable decisions for the rest of your life. Without spoiling some of the major story arcs, the show looks at how marriage, sexual consent and drug and alcohol usage are all still choices that you will deal with after puberty concludes.

 In short, “Big Mouth” is about change and a reflection on how what you thought might have been the most difficult time in your life, probably does not matter as much as you think it does.

 Admittedly, “Big Mouth” takes a little bit of effort to really enjoy. What I said at the beginning still stands,this show will make you uncomfortable, possibly to a point where you would turn it off. Honestly speaking, this is a show where I did not want my roommate to walk in on me watching, because it could be hard to explain why you are watching a 15-year-old girl talk to her vagina, or a hormone-driven teenager have a sexual relationship with his pillow.

 But if you push through, you will be rewarded with a well-written, well-animated and well-voice acted five-hour series that won’t leave you in stitches, but it will make you chuckle and reflect on your own life experiences.

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“Big Mouth” illuminates change with laughter