Season Four of “Big Mouth”: Same Show, Lots of Growth
A review of season four of “Big Mouth,” Nick Kroll’s dirty, hilarious animated series.
Reading Time: 3 minutes
The stand-out Netflix animated series “Big Mouth” released its long-awaited fourth season on December 4, following in the footsteps of its previous three seasons, improving upon its faults, and maturing with the characters. With puberty and sexuality constantly being stigmatized by essentially everyone in our society, “Big Mouth” makes a unique effort to normalize the embarrassment we all feel during our teenage years and gives us the ability to laugh about it—this is not the “Miracle of Life.”
For those unfamiliar with the raunchy animated original “Big Mouth,” it follows the lives of a group of middle school students who are constantly put in uncomfortable situations typical of adolescence. The show centers around the friendship of Nick Birch (Nick Kroll), Jessi Glaser (Jessi Klein), Andrew Glouberman (John Mulaney), and of course, the terror that is puberty. In the first three seasons, the show deals with a huge range of taboo but important topics such as menstruation, drug use, and harassment. The fourth season puts a unique spotlight on anxiety by depicting both the little voice in our heads and the aftermath of acting on those anxious thoughts.
At the start of the season, Nick and Andrew are forced to attend summer camp together despite being in the midst of a fight, in which Andrew shuns Nick and befriends Seth (Seth Rogen). Nick’s lack of friends at camp leads to the introduction of a new character, Tito the Anxiety Mosquito, who buzzes in the character’s ears telling him to be anxious and describes his fears in overt detail. Tito also zeroes in on Jessi, who moves to New York City and attends a prestigious private school, making her feel less intelligent than the other students despite desperately trying to fit in. Tito continues to appear throughout the season, often accompanied by the Depression Kitty, a cat from previous seasons who periodically weighs down on Jessi’s life.
While the major new character this season is Tito, “Big Mouth” doesn’t shy away from its usual abundance of subjects. This season features the first transgender character, Natalie (Josie Totah), and while she is first used as a lesson on what it means to be transgender, “Big Mouth” does not keep that pace for long. Almost immediately after introducing herself, Natalie is bombarded with rude, transphobic comments and questions from her peers and has to navigate that while maintaining a complex personal character arc. Matthew (Andrew Rannells), another LGBTQ+ character, has a storyline involving him coming out as gay to his parents. In a twist of events, Matthew’s mother, who seemed slightly more accepting of him than his father in the first few seasons, is the one who is actually in denial about Matthew’s sexuality. It’s important for shows like “Big Mouth” that are marketed toward teenagers to show these painful moments because, though it shouldn’t be the case, they often play out in reality and need to be represented in the media we all consume. “Big Mouth” provides a “you’re not alone” sentiment in so many ways, especially with the reaction to Matthew coming out of the closet, which is really helpful for young people with those exact fears. Season four of “Big Mouth” also delves into Missy (Jenny Slate and Ayo Edebiri)’s identity as a mixed person after a visit to her Black cousins’ house, and in later episodes, code-switching, which is when a person (in the U.S., Blacks are the standard example) alternates between ways of speaking in different situations, as taught to her by Devon (Jak Knight). Missy also asserts how her parents “haven’t taught [her] anything about being Black” and how her white mother especially doesn’t know how to treat her hair properly (she uses a six-in-one shampoo, body wash, dish-soap, and more).
What is different and not necessarily better about season four of “Big Mouth” is the childlike subject matter of many of the jokes (feces, vomit, urine, and the like). The manner of the jokes, however, does work to balance out the more serious plot lines of the season. Though some of the previous comedic integrity is sacrificed, as the show progresses and deals with deeper and more complex issues, the simplicity of the humor maintains the funny and childish aspects of an increasingly grown-up group of characters.
In just 10 episodes, “Big Mouth” successfully manages to display so many pubescent struggles in a comedic manner and create so many loveable yet hateable characters that we can all laugh with and at. Season four of “Big Mouth” is a great watch (not in front of your parents, of course) that does an exemplary job at progressing its classic plotlines while simultaneously introducing new ones.