“Big Mouth” Review (Instead of Obama’s Book)

by Andrew Millman, Executive Editor

Well, this was originally meant to be a review of A Promised Land, former President Barack Obama’s memoir of his early life and first few years in the White House, but honestly with finals and everything else *gestures towards the ongoing pandemic*. I kind of got distracted after reading a few chapters and haven’t gotten back into it yet.

The one thing I will say is it’s also like Obama’s begging anyone under the age of thirty to absolutely roast him throughout the book. If you’re on TikTok, you’re probably familiar with his descriptions of his college crushes, “the long-legged socialist,” the “ethereal bisexual,” and the “smooth-skinned sociology major” and his unsuccessful attempts to woo them through books. I regret to inform you that that’s just the tip of the iceberg. At one point, he says he and Michelle were “friends before we became lovers.” Simp.

Anyway, while I found reading too exhausting, I did manage to binge watch the entire ten-episode fourth season of Big Mouth, the animated show about puberty from Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, within 24 hours of it coming out on Netflix last Friday. First off, I will say I was much more grossed-out by this season than I had been by previous season (the third episode, “Poop Madness” stands out particularly in this regard; definitely not for the faint of heart). I’m not sure if it’s because the creators have just leaned more into gross-out humor or because I’m more aware that the show’s premise is kinda weird for grown adults to be portraying children this way. Also, it’s good that the show finally realized how problematic it was for a white person to be voicing Missy, a Black character, and recast the role with a Black voice actress (Ayo Edebiri), even though it took a historic global protest movement for them to do so.

Anyway, overall, I found the season very enjoyable and a welcome reprieve from the ongoing existential dread wrought by the twin terrors of finals season and global catastrophe. It’s honestly amazing that this show provides a level of escapist pleasure while also being about one of the most traumatic and embarrassing periods in anyone’s life.

The best part of the show, in my opinion, has always been the use of anthropomorphic creatures to represent the changes and emotions the preteen protagonists experience through puberty, such as the Hormone Monsters, the Shame Wizard, and the Depression Kitty. The new additions of this season are the Anxiety Mosquito and the Gratitoad. The creatures function as visual representations of the internal struggles everyone faces through puberty and, unfortunately, also for the rest of our lives. It’s exactly through this absurdism that the show is able to offer an incredibly authentic portrayal of those awkward middle school years.

My favorite part of the show is honestly the one-off one-liners, like when Matthew said “This is officially better than the time I saw Eric Stonestreet fall down a flight of stairs” or, in response to the character Natalie coming out as trans, a group of girls reply with a litany of phrases they probably heard on Drag Race, or when Milk says “my dad’s friend Bob Reedy has a statue of a finger in his nightstand.”

Coach Steve remains the best character on the show. Everything about this man, from his distinctive voice to his absolute stupidity, makes me absolutely lose it (back in season one, he’s revealed to be a Fordham alum, which is hilarious). I absolutely lost it when Coach Steve thought a field trip to the 9/11 Memorial was supposed to be a birthday party for him and that the Twin Towers referred to “Georgetown’s Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Moutumbo.”

Overall, despite the ostensible subject matter, Big Mouth is the perfect procrastination show for when you should be studying for finals and, yes I’m referring to you, the person reading this right now.Also, I highly recommend watching the “Big Mouth” installment of Trixie Mattel and Katya’s running commentary videos “I Like to Watch,” found on Netflix’s YouTube page. 

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