Because Nothing Says Romance Like a Bunch of Awkward Pre-Teens
by Andrew Millman
After two hilarious seasons, Netflix’s Big Mouth came out with a Valentine’s Day special, a double episode that promised to double the raunchy humor that audiences have become accustomed to from the show. If you haven’t seen Big Mouth yet, first of all, how dare you? But for a brief overview, it’s an animated show created by comedians John Mulaney and Nick Kroll about a bunch of tweens going through puberty, with some of the funniest people ever as voice actors. Mulaney and Kroll play the two main characters, Andrew and Nick, respectively. Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen, Jordan Peele, and David Thewlis are all standouts. The show has a knack for bringing up the worst experiences of middle school that you’ve repressed to the darkest corners of your subconscious. Of course, I’m totally not speaking from experience here. This is just what I hear from other people, honestly.
The Valentine’s Day special picks up where the second season left off, but you don’t have to have watched the previous seasons to understand what’s going on. Be warned, the show can get grotesquely absurd and has a penchant for breaking out in two or three too many musical numbers, but other than that I cannot express how fantastic this show is. Nothing beats Nick’s older brother Judd telling their father, “Dad, your breath smells like pussy,” to which Fred Armisen responds, “It always does, son.” Everyone’s favorite character, Connie, is now Nick’s hormone monstress, as he’s developed “sensitive nipples” because he’s “a sensitive boy” and cries in front of his friends for the first time. Fired from his middle school gym teacher job, beloved idiot and everyone’s second favorite character Coach Steve is now “Walgreens Greeter Coach Steve.” He constructs a girlfriend out of a heart toy with automated I-love-you responses, along with Reese’s cups, Werther’s originals, and spoons, called “Reese’s Wertherspoons.”
The kids are all feeling lonely on this Valentine’s Day – very relatable for the single among us. Andrew wants his erstwhile girlfriend Missy back and decides to play it cool instead of his normally dorky self. This leads him to become the embodiment of toxic masculinity, horribly flailing and failing at his goal. Nick is still under-developed and wants a real date for the day, instead of his parents’ traditional and creepy annual dinner date with him, what Connie accurately calls an “Oedipal Arrangement.” Jenny is still against her mother’s relationship with Cantor Dinah and, in her loneliness, seeks to mock the holiday with Matthew, a fellow lonely heart masked with cynicism. Matthew, who remarks early on that his shirt from Topman “screams bottom,” is used to masking his true feelings. He’s the only out kid at his school and that has begun to weigh on him. He mocks others to deflect from his own loneliness. Meanwhile, Jay struggles to balance his two relationships, both with pillows (like I said, grotesquely absurd).
Most of the main characters get a fourth-wall-breaking, straight-to-camera interview with their hormone monsters, detailing when and how they met each other. For example, Andrew’s pubescence started while he was watching Under the Tuscan Sun, watching Diane Lane. Jordan Peele voices the ghost of Duke Ellington, who’s infatuated with the ghost of Whitney Houston, who’s infatuated with the ghost of Nina Simone, who’s infatuated with the ghost of Burt Reynolds (too soon).
The Valentine’s Special is just what I needed. The third season is not expected to be out for about six more months, and honestly, it’s my favorite show right now. Mulaney and Kroll offered a much-needed break from all these assignment due dates that are suddenly popping up out of nowhere for me, even though all the due dates are definitely on the class syllabi. Who needs to do a five-page essay when I could watch this for the third time?