Big Mouth Brings Up Big Topics

Chantalle Dumont

Critics have raved about Nick Kroll’s new show Big Mouth, which is about the brutal reality of growing up. Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg represent a cartoon character of their middle school selves. Middle school is a tough stage and the show highlights the struggles and truth of puberty. Despite the show presenting crude and fictional humor, Nick Kroll excels at representing the thoughts of adolescence. The show’s cast consists of both male and female actors, all of which react differently in the nuanced plot of the show. The plot harks on the common idea that middle school is commonly referred to as the “awkward” phase of one’s life.

In a tongue and cheek approach, the show comments on the mental and physical change the common middle schooler can suffer while adapting to puberty. Nick Kroll takes this horrible time and creates something humorous. The first season is uncomfortable, but oddly entertaining. The cartoon like comedy is similar to both Family Guy and South Park, but the content in Big Mouth is more relevant and sparks conversation. According to K.T Hawbaker, a critic from Chicago Tribune, she states, “In 10 episodes, the program manages to address everything from queer oral histories and the myth of masculinity to slut-shaming and relational aggression among girls—more than most U.S. high school sex ed classes would ever embark upon,” Big Mouth made a statement in the Netflix world by bringing up both sensitive and highly controversial topics.

In season two, the Big Mouth cast released a special  episode called “The Planned Parenthood Show. Reflecting back to the awkward days of middle school, the “talk” or sex education class is highly remembered amongst many. What Big Mouth does so well is taking the awkward classroom setting and presenting all the emotions and reactions of the students.  

This episode debunks common myths of Planned Parenthood, reinforces the use of contraception, and embraces the fact that everyone is different. The episode begins with Coach Steve beginning his lesson on “sex ed”. As he begins speaking, he mentions “planned parenthood” and immediately following, a boy in the class blurts out “an abortion factory.” As an uninformed, confused middle schooler, he was quickly corrected by the girls on the purpose of planned parenthood. The episode later speaks about the need for planned parenthood and the actual reasons behind it.

At one point in the episode, the idea of contraception is introduced. In typical Nick Kroll fashion, he took various forms of contraception and made them characters as well. During  this part of the episode, a sixteen year old girl is introduced to the variety of contraceptives, who are now characters, and is to pick one that is right for her. Similar to any reality TV show, Big Mouth mimics the idea of “finding love” and the sixteen year old girl is to be “wooed” by one of the contraceptives. As the contraceptives are attempting to “woo” the girl, they present their pros and cons. The sixteen year old is then to decide which contraceptive is right for her. The show continues with the reality of what girls can encounter through the process of birth as well.

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Despite the unrealistic and overly dramatized presentation of the show, the underlying content is real. The emotions behind it are real. Big Mouth shows voice through each and every episode and highlights the importance of starting conversation on sensitive topics. Throughout the series legitimate uncomfortable topics are brought to light. Big Mouth is an oddly humorous show and can often be crude, but the idea is applauded.

 

8 thoughts on “Big Mouth Brings Up Big Topics

  1. Julia Matter
    I think this blog post completely captures the essence of what the show Big Mouth is. It’s outrageous yet entertaining. Personally I think the reason the show seems so out there is that they bring up topics that we constantly try to avoid in real life. I agree with the author in the second paragraph that the show brings up relevant and relatable conversation. I think this was a great episode to evaluate when analysing the show. This episode is actually surprisingly informative as they go over different methods of birth control while still being extremely humorous as they do it in a game show fashion. So overall I agree Big Mouth does bring up some big topics.

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  2. Jeff Sakakeeny
    This is what makes Big Mouth such an interesting and worthwhile show. As much as television likes to attract viewers with sexual content, it very little talks about it. You bring up a very good point that it tackles controversial and not normally talked about issues. Some of these things that are prevalent and discussed today, and some are just weird sexual realities middle schoolers encounter all the time. The Planned Parenthood episode you reference encapsulates why the show works and why it is important. The classroom of bickering students pass around myths and rumors they picked up in their environment. it is a reflection of the current climate of the argument on planned parenthood with misinformed individuals saying things out of fear. Perhaps if sex ed was as detailed and straight forwards as Big Mouth we wouldn’t have these problems.

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  3. This post on Big Mouth is very well done. You get right to the heart of the show. When you get past the crude comments and sick humor, one realizes that the core of Big Mouth is real and sensitive to that “awkward” age that every middle schooler goes through. We all remember those days well and some may choose to forget them. And yes, Big Mouth does brooch big topics, such as the Planned Parenthood episode and incorporates these topics right into the episodes through conversations that the characters have with one another. Middle schoolers are full of raging hormones and feelings and thoughts that they have never been exposed to before – puberty. As you wrote in your post, the topics may be uncomfortable, but they need to be talked about. What better way to talk about uncomfortable topics that with humor. Again, the show is not just about sick humor and adolescence, there in an underlying compassionate side to this show that makes you realize that adolescence and puberty are just stepping stones on the way to adulthood.
    – Jack Mileszko

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  4. I am a huge fan of this show and I totally agree with every point in this article. Big Mouth, is a show that aims to talk about the awkward situations you may have while you are growing up. This show does it in a hilarious way that some might find crude. Personally, I think this show is relatable to many people who have gone through or are going through puberty. It is a topic many people find embarrassing to talk about but the writers of this show talk about what everyone is thinking. You related it to Family Guy which I agree with but it is more like Family Guy on steroids. This show would never survive on cable television and has many more jokes and situations that people may find “offensive.” Overall, I think there need to be more shows like this that aim to relate to people of certain ages and the issues they may be going through. Shows that use humor like this tend to be more lighthearted and help you realize that many people are going through the same things as you.

    Jared Ridgway

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  5. Nicole Bruso

    Big Mouth is a great show that breaks the silence about awkward topics. It takes us back to our middle school days and shows us how freaked out we were about every day natural things. I feel that this show, while inappropriate for kids, can help parents feel more comfortable about talking to their kids about these topics. Teens who watch this show can be entertained while subconsciously learning things about contraceptives and STDs. I like how you incorporated the Planned Parenthood episode and how some are misinformed by what it is. It is a great example how a humorous show can actually inform its viewers on important topics.

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  6. (Emma Hoey)

    I think that Big Mouth’s approach to comedy is so funny because it is taking topics that nobody wants to recall from their memory and forcing them into terribly hilarious situations for characters. In a way, we relate, and reminisce about how we were probably just as ignorant at one point as Missy or Nick. But, it is easier to laugh at carefully curated cartoon jokes than at ourselves. The whole series is full of correct information about sex, but it is used in a way that is interesting and important to the plot. I agree that the comedy style is similar to that of South Park, but with a little less raunchiness. Big Mouth is embarrassing and real, which makes it even more appealing than made-up television scenarios.

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  7. Melanie DeAlmeida

    In a nutshell Big Mouth gets into details about the feelings and physical changes of turning into an adult. the approach is comedic and absurd all at once. There are parts that may make people uncomfortable because it is so true but nobody would ever actually talk about it. It is so much easier to laugh at a cartoon talking about all these things without making it to realistic but creating these characters to be awkward and human like but very strange. Usually you would say you can’t relate to cartoons as well as you can with actual humans in a show. Since these characters are going through real life changes it is relatable and easy to laugh about since all these things have happened in the past and those awkward moments are done with it is a good laugh for adults.

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  8. Michael Gille
    First of all I must say Big Mouth is my favorite show that’s currently running. Big Mouth addresses not just the horrors of puberty, but rather how conservative America still is. The twisted humor in the show would still be very informative for children going through puberty which is kinda weird since the show is focused for a mature audience.
    The fact that the show accurately talks about major myths and rumors about things relating to queers, periods, and planned parenthood is amazing. This show needs to continue to be the informative, dark humor, show that it has so successfully became.

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