GIRL, ARE YOU WATCHING BIG MOUTH YET?
It's that time of year again: avoiding family, responsibilities, and real life by mindlessly binge-watching some Netflix shows. I discovered the show Big Mouth mostly because I was bored, hungover, and because Netflix was pushing it on me as something I’d like since I'm still mourning the loss of Bob’s Burgers.
Big Mouth is a Netflix original 10-episode series created by Jennifer Flackett, Andrew Goldberg, and Nick Kroll. I will tell you right now that watching this show was totally worth it and I found some new female fictional characters to enjoy on my small screen. Like many Netflix Original shows, it knows how pull you in for the full-on patented binge session. The show deals with the subject of puberty for both its male and female characters. While the main characters and most of the show creators and executive producers are male, there are more diverse female voices and perspectives heard throughout the show than I’ve seen in any animated comedy since Bob’s Burgers. It is part of a growing trend for women writers to get more involved in and have their own stories told in “bodily humor” comedies.
The two main characters are Nick Birch and Andrew Glouberman, voiced by Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. They are joined by a cast of veritable who's who of modern American television comedy: Fred Armisen, Jordan Peele, Maya Rudolph, Jason Mantzoukas, Kristen Bell, Jenny Slate, Kat Dennings, and more.
Missy (voiced by Jenny Slate) is my favorite character on the show because not only is she a total nerd, but like the other female characters, gets to be sexual in her own way. Maya Rudolph as the voice the female “Hormone Monstress” is a revelation. Other standout female characters of the show also include Jessi, Nick’s sister, Leah, and the Statue of Liberty in Episode 2: Everybody Bleeds.
The show discusses topics such a ejaculation, periods, questioning sexuality, emotional brutality, bullying, women’s sexual desire, porn, and most importantly in today’s political and cultural climate: consent. All of this is done with openness, candor, non-judgmental honesty in way that makes fun of the situations by remaining respectful of the characters’ points-of-view.
Episode 8 is my favorite episode of the entire season and it is called “The Head Push” and as you might guess, it deals with consent. It opens with a joke about a play about Scientology. The next scene cuts to Missy playing “Bacterium Delirium” with her parents and new boyfriend, Andrew. Nick’s older sister, Leah (voiced by Kat Dennings) is in the Scientology play and decides to have a wrap party for her high school friends because their parents are out of town. Once Missy hears about the party happening, she persuades Andrew to go because “couples should do new brave things together.”
A ninth grader named Tallulah Lavine flirts with Nick, whose brother Judd later tells him that her nickname is the “Blowjob Queen.” In order to deal with his nervousness, Nick gets wasted on some “Cotton Candy Brandy: Made for Kids, By Kids” and then he ventures up to the attic where he meets with the ghost of Duke Ellington (voiced by Jordan Peele), from which he often asks for advice.
Duke is having a party with his ghost friends: Whitney Houston, Pablo Picasso, Prince, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
Nick is embarrassed about the size of his penis because it’s not as big as Andrew’s, which he accidentally saw in the first episode during a sleepover. All of the ghosts implore him to show it to them and they are variably horrified. The ghost of Whitney Houston calls it a “baby’s nose.” Prince suggests that Nick could go down on Twllulah because “pleasure begets pleasure.” Nick has assumed that Tallulah wants to give him head just because of her nickname and that is the reason why she is flirting with him. After they kiss, he refuses the blowjob Tallulah has never offered him and she is righteously pissed about it.
Meanwhile, Missy and Andrew walk through the house while the party is going on and find Leah’s room. Missy invites Andrew into the closet for “seven minutes in heaven,” encouraged by her Hormone Monstress.
While they are in the closet, each character’s hormone monsters start a negotiation process around their humans’ skill levels, which are completely zero.
As the hormone one monsters lose control over their desires, Missy pushes herself up against Andrew, who has already had the embarrassing moment of coming in his pants during a school dance in a previous episode. Missy thinks that Andrew is pulling away from her because she has too forcefully pressed her “mons pubis” against him.
As they decide to plan their escape from the closet, they witness Leah and theater douchebag Daniel, making out on Leah’s bed. This leads to the episode’s title of “The Head Push” as Brian tries to force Leah to give him a blowjob, even though she is clearly not interested in doing more with him than making out.
Missy and Andrew are horrified by what they've witnessed and tell Nick. During a game of charades, Leah calls out Daniel’s date rapist tendencies, which he tries to blame in “party culture.” He tries to use the word “slut-shaming” in his own favor.
Everyone at the party gangs up against him and Nick pukes in Daniel’s hat. Leah then dumps the hat, puke and all, onto Daniel’s head. We find out later that Daniel has died from a brain tumor because the Cotton Candy Brandy has seeped into his skull and kills him. Something we'd like all date rapists to die from.