Netflix’s new animated comedy series “Big Mouth” reminds me of one of my middle school football coach’s favorite sayings:
“You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”
And that’s exactly what the hilariously explicit, sex-filled show makes its audiences learn how to do.
The ten-episode series follows seventh graders Nick (Nick Kroll), Andrew (John Mulaney) and Jessi (Jessi Klein) as they’re thrown head-first into the most terrifying time of any child’s life – puberty.
The best friends navigate their way through first kisses, periods, wet dreams and general horniness with the help of their personal puberty guides, the Hormone Monster (Kroll) and his female counterpart, the Hormone Monstress (Maya Rudolph).
Created by Kroll, “Big Mouth” pushes the boundaries of even a streaming service like Netflix. It’s shockingly graphic, full of cartoon nudity, singing tampons and dancing penises, but at the same time, surprisingly frank and genuine.
The reason it’s so uncomfortable to watch all of these horrifically entertaining scenes unfold is because everyone remembers going through it at one point. Watching these kids go through middle school rites of passage brings up all the traumatic memories from our own experiences.
Shows always talk about horny teenage boys, but what about the girls? While it certainly centers itself around Nick and Andrew’s journey through puberty, “Big Mouth” refreshingly places an equal focus on the female character’s similarly traumatizing experiences.
One of the most charming and hilarious elements of the show is its non-stop pop culture references, especially its extremely random celebrity guest appearances.
With a completely star-studded cast, “Big Mouth” boasts one of the best groups of voices in any animated series right now. In addition to Kroll, Mulaney, Klein and Rudolph, the show also features performances from Jordan Peele, Jason Mantzoukas, Jenny Slate, Kat Dennings, Fred Armisen and Richard Kind — not to mention cameos by Nathan Fillion, Kristen Bell, Chelsea Peretti and Kristen Wiig.
In such a talented cast, it’s hard to stand out, but Kroll and Rudolph give life to two of the best characters as the Hormone Monster and Monstress, respectively. These two figments of imagination constantly appear at the characters’ most inopportune moments to convince them to listen to their horniest urges and make fools of themselves.
But by the end of the season, the two monsters transform from impulsive horndogs into wise, yet still horny, puberty mentors.
While “Big Mouth” may follow 13-year-old hormone-fueled machines, the show is not for middle schoolers. At times, the awkward and uncomfortable scenes were almost too cringe-inducing, but Kroll rewards viewers willing to stick it out with plenty of laughs.
The hilariously crude yet oddly heartfelt series will either leave viewers cackling or crying, but knowing one thing for certain – nothing will ever compare to the horrors of puberty.
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.