Big Mouth, Netflix’s latest original animated series, is set around the adolescent lives of Andrew, Nick, Jessi, and Jay, as they embark on the nightmarish and testing phase of puberty. Maurice the Hormone Monster rears his aggressive, encouraging head throughout as a sort of Yoda mentor into the world of our sexually inquisitive and maturing characters, who are discovering the joys of masturbation. As a coming-of-age comedy, Big Mouth is consistently smutty and a verbally colourful show you definitely wouldn’t want to watch with small kids – or your parents.
Even if you’re a fan of other adult shows, such as Rick and Morty, Archer, and Family Guy, Netflix’s latest attempt to break into the popular genre feels somewhat uneasy in comparison. F is For Family was a solid transition for Netflix to produce original adult animation; even if it was structurally similar to the family-based formula and patriarchal approach we’ve seen before, its era (the 1970s) added a nice addition to the modern take on sitcom family life. Big Mouth gives us a very different scenario: a more modern-set time, with kids learning about, and exploring, sex. It’s mildly uncomfortable at times; it doesn’t feel quite right watching children embark on horny activity, even if it is in the name of comedy.
It’s not that sex itself is anything to shy away from. The main problem that presents itself is the constant and somewhat endless self-pleasure jokes and sexual references. Granted, the point of the show is a collective of youngsters getting to grips (no pun intended) with sex and maturing into a more aware state of adulthood, but the strong focus on knocking one off is a bit much in parts. It comes across as a single-minded overload on shooting one’s load at any given opportunity.
The comedy infrequently lands, too. At the very start, when we witness Nick’s first encounter with Maurice, it does come across as amusing. The issue is that idea of relieving oneself and thinking about sex and girls gets tiresome rather quickly. Fortunately we’re given parallel stories to follow in each episode, such as Jessi coping with her first period, Andrew questioning his sexuality after seeing a movie trailer starring The Rock, or Jay having a heartfelt relationship with an anthropomorphised pillow.
That said, Big Mouth explores things other shows – and certainly not cartoons – wouldn’t dare. While some may find its adolescence difficult to connect with at times, it does address key issues we’ve all experienced growing up and therefore has elements virtually everyone can relate to. Branded as an adventure into puberty, it certainly is that. However, Big Mouth is a bit too on-the-nose with its teen mindset. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite translate into something adults can wholeheartedly engage with, even if they’re able to – on some level – identify with it or find it endearing. If you’re still a fan of sex-crazed teen movies such as American Pie and (for older viewers) Porky’s, though, this will tickle you no end.
Big Mouth is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.