Wow. Just wow. Also, what the heck?
The Netflix original series “Big Mouth” is difficult to describe and that’s probably an understatement. Whether you’re a classic “Family Guy,” a politically angsty “South Park” or masochistic “Rick and Morty” fan, most people have their go-to adult cartoon.
I never did. I think they’re kind of weird and hard to relate to and “Sausage Party” was absolutely excruciating to me. But I’ve recently found, like many of the characters in “Big Mouth,” “I’m going through changes”—although thankfully, not the same ones.
The cartoon, originally released on Sept. 29, 2017, is about puberty and it is absolutely ridiculous. But as ridiculous as I find it, it’s also low-key relatable and I think that’s what impresses me most about it.
Disclaimer: I can really only speak for girls in terms of the show’s relatability. I don’t know how relatable it is for guys, I’m not sure I want to know how relatable it is for guys after watching it, but my fear is that the depiction of male puberty is probably pretty accurate.
The first season of this series consists of 10 episodes that are each about a half hour long (nice for a short attention span, you can burn through them pretty quickly) and it confuses you right off the bat. The opening scene of the first episode is two boys sitting in a classroom watching a presentation on the female reproductive system.
Andrew Glouberman, played by John Mulaney (hold the applause), finds himself aroused by the depiction of fallopian tubes. Shortly after, we are graced by the presence of the hormone monster who convinces Andrew that he must go to the bathroom to more deeply contemplate fallopian tubes.
The hormone monster, and later the hormone monstress, are the backbone of this animated series. These beasts are constantly popping up at the most inopportune moment to creatively antagonize these middle schoolers and control their life decisions—which if I shudder to think back to middle school, it would explain a lot.
I don’t need to explain the struggles of puberty; we’ve all already suffered enough, but I would like to highlight some key moments in the show that reminded me of my own hormone monstress back in the day.
First of all, in episode two “Everybody Bleeds” Jessi gets her first period in the Statue of Liberty, wearing white shorts. Of course, right? Furthermore, the only person around to help a girl out is Andrew, who, by the way, is also the best friend of her boyfriend and best friend Nick Birch. Perfect.
When this embarrassing ordeal is over and Jessi is finally alone in her room, the hormone monstress appears to let her know how much puberty is about to make her suffer and that she now wants to yell at her mother and fling herself on her bed and cry hysterically for no reason. I honestly can’t count the number of unprompted crying fits I engaged in during my tweenage years but I assure you, they were frequent.
Another favorite is when Jessi buys her first bra. She gets a little overzealous and goes for the sexy red bra, later feeling too self-conscious to wear it. Story of my life. But the most relatable part of this episode, “Girls Are Horny Too,” is when Jessi is overwhelmed and crying she yells out, “my mom was right!” and the hormone monstress smacks her and says “never say that again!” Mom, I’m sorry for all the pain I’ve caused you in the past.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the random musical outbursts throughout the show. I never thought that cartoons spontaneously bursting into song could explain the concepts of menstruation, sexuality and the fact that “life is a fucked up mess… oh, it’s a shit show.”
This show is a mind-bending cocktail of absurdity, relatability and comedic genius complete with bizarre musical numbers. The adults are weird, the kids are weird and the hormone monsters are just killin’ the game. This show brings me back to a time of unbearable suffering and I loved every minute of it, no matter how uncomfortable they were.