Created by Nick Kroll (The League) and Andrew Goldberg (Family Guy), Big Mouth is an animated series that follows a group of middle-schoolers as they navigate the nightmare that is puberty and adolescence. From unfortunately timed boners and masturbation mishaps to talking vaginas and musical numbers about boobs, Big Mouth has never been shy about shedding light on the messy side of growing up. It’s a show that I wish existed when I was going through the motions, and one I think preteens and adults alike can relate to. Some might say that the show’s raunchiness is too much for younger audiences, but I disagree. Big Mouth is a crash course through puberty, and gets the message across better than any health education class ever could. Even in my twenties, I still find myself relating to the characters and the awkward situations they consistently wind up in.
The first two seasons of Big Mouth are arguably perfect. The writing is fresh and hilarious, the themes and lessons are always unapologetically poignant, and it’s voiced by an all-star cast of modern day comedy legends and SNL alums including (but not limited to) Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph, Jason Mantzoukas, Jenny Slate and Jordan Peele. And while Season 3 seemed to lose a bit of its charm in the final few episodes, it was still an overall hilarious season that upped the personal and emotional stakes for our favourite little horndogs. This brings us to Season 4, which if I’m being completely honest, had me a little worried at first. It seemed as though the show’s peak had come and gone, and while that may be true in some sense, the second half of Big Mouth’s fourth season shines brighter than ever, and tackles some of its most mature issues to date.
Season 4 of Big Mouth picks up immediately where the previous season left off, with Nick and Andrew’s friendship on the rocks, and Jessi moving to New York and leaving her friends behind. But before the start of a new school year, our group of hormone-infused friends must endure a painfully awkward summer at camp. In the first season, Nick, Andrew and all the rest were in their first year of middle school. Now, we see them as they enter the eighth grade (they grow up so fast, *wipes away tear*). Much like the characters at its centre, Big Mouth continues to grow and take on heavier issues such as anxiety, coming out, death, and identity in its familiar oh-so-empathetic way. This series would NOT work if it followed the typical “animated sitcom” formula (i.e. the characters remaining the same person they were when we first met them). It’s important for us to watch them develop as they start to understand themselves and the world around them a bit better. Don’t get me wrong, they still have a looong way to go, but they’re on the right track.
This season introduces us to a few fresh new faces, some interesting (and questionable) romances, and guest stars Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express), John Oliver (The Lion King), Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle (PEN15), and comedian Maria Bamford are all welcome additions to the already stacked cast. However, I do wish we had spent more time with some of them. After 4 seasons, Big Mouth introduces its first transgender character Natalie, who forms a sweet but short-lived frenemy-turned-friend relationship with Jessi. These two have great chemistry, as they’ve both experienced what it’s like to feel isolated from everyone else around them. However, I don’t blame them for writing these characters out after just 3 episodes. This season has a lot to get through, but I do hope we get to see some of them again.
Season 4 also sees the replacement of Jenny Slate with Ayo Edebiri as the voice of Missy. Slate exits the show in the 9th episode, and I’m glad that instead of making the change half-assedly, the creators found a way to incorporate it into the story. Missy has one of the best arcs this season, revolving around her racial identity and which side of herself she wants to embrace. But in a trippy Halloween-themed episode that explores the inner fears and anxieties of our characters, Missy learns to accept all the different parts of herself and be happy with who she is. It’s the sweetest arc for the series’ sweetest character, and I don’t doubt that Edebiri will do a great job moving forward.
However, the character I related to the most this season was Nick. As someone who deals with anxiety and feelings of worthlessness almost on a daily basis, I couldn’t help but see myself in Nick. One of my favourite episodes from the season is set in an apocalyptic future, where Nick has become the host of Countdown to Money with Nick Starr! (a running joke since the first season). No amount of wealth or pill-form orgasms can save Nick from the loneliness he feels everyday, which forces present-day Nick to decide what kind of person and friend he wants to be (or rather, what kind he doesn’t want to be). Figuring out who you want to be is one of the hardest things in life, especially if you see yourself becoming someone you don’t like. In the end, I think everyone gets a satisfying outcome that closes the door on some of the show’s longest running character arcs, and opens it up for a lot more.
There’s so much more that I could say about Big Mouth Season 4, but I’ll cut myself off here. It might not be the funniest season, but it definitely packs the biggest punch, and goes the extra length to flesh out the colourful characters I’ve already come to love. Kroll and Goldberg have already confirmed at least two more seasons, and a spinoff series set entirely in the world of the Hormone Monsters, which I for one, cannot wait for. Maury, Connie and the other monsters are among the best parts of the show, and it felt as though they took a backseat during this season. There’s still so much left for Big Mouth to explore, and I’m excited to see where they decide to go next. Whether you’re facing the adversities of adolescence or adulthood, Big Mouth is the perfect watch for anyone going through changes in life.