“Big Mouth” is a notoriously raunchy, provocative show about going through puberty. Through the guidance of “hormone monsters” we watch middle school students navigate masturbation, crushes, friendships and emotions. Other topics, such as understanding masturbation, identifying toxic friendships and rejecting societal pressures towards character at an age where kids’ personalities are being formed are more relatable and therefore more valuable. In fact, I wish I had a show like this when I was in seventh grade, furiously masturbating through the guilt caused by my family’s catholic voice in my ear saying that it’s wrong to want to orgasm.
After the initial shock and awe from the first season, the third season is trying to keep that fire going. As a result, the show felt to be attempting to retain the whimsy by including more content — but bigger isn’t always better. Rather than tackle a few plots well, the creators chose to deal with many plots mediocrely.
This season had a lot of backlash for one plot in particular, leading to a public apology from the show creators themselves: the introduction of Ally played by comedian Ali Wong, who transfers from an all girls Catholic school and comes out as pansexual because she is into guys, girls and everything in between. This launches into a whole musical number about the definitions of sexuality and leads to Jay accepting the fact that he’s bi. However, the creators didn’t get it quite right. Their song excludes transgender people from their gender definitions, and the definitions themselves aren’t correct. For example, bisexuality is defined as being attractive to men and women, whereas it is actually defined by GLAAD, a media monitoring organization founded by LGBTQ+ members of the media community, as being attracted to more than one gender. Pansexuality is defined by the show as attraction to men, women and trans men and women — as if they aren’t one in the same, and completely exclude non-binary people. However pansexuality is actually just attraction not bounded by gender expression.
A second fault of the show is the preachy plotline in which Chelsea Peretti appears as a character named Cellsea. The first four episodes are a poorly executed attempt to illustrate the “obsession” the present generations have on technology. We get it Big Mouth creators, you’re making a point about how disturbing the role that technology has in society is — how original. People over the age of 35 like to reject the progression of society but, for better or for worse, technology is embedded in our lives like unearned confidence in a Harvard boy’s manner. The creators decided to go the obvious route, depicting an uncomfortably exaggerated relationship between Nick Birch and Cellsea including dirty talk. This storyline culminates in a frantic debacle where Andrew Glauberman attempts to drive Nick’s parents car in order to obtain consent to post on Cellsea, all as an attempt to squeeze himself back into his best friend Nick’s sight.
This is not to say that the entire season was a swing and a miss. The final episode of the season was a well-done depiction of emotional turbulence. The creators took to magical realism, granting each character their own super powers. For instance, Andrew could turn invisible any time he farts, Jenny could compel the truth from people, Missy could control the weather and Nick could grow super-sized. The kids deal with their conflicts about friendship and crushes with one another by literally fighting each other. Resulting from these fights, Andrew tells Nick what a terrible friend he’s been, Jenny finds out she has to move from the city, Jay teaches his family how to love one another and Missy deals with guilt and rejection. It turns out that, another kid, Caleb had been documenting the conflicts in the form a superhero comic, but even though the powers weren’t real, the aftermath of the battle remains. I think this was a very accurate way to represent the mood swings and uncontrollable emotions that we all felt going through puberty. If “Big Mouth” had focused throughout the season on content more like the last episode, instead of frantically trying to keep their ratings up with sheer quantity of plotlines, this season would have been much more enjoyable. It’s like my mom always says “Saffron, get off your computer. Multitasking is a myth.”