Arts and Entertainment

Season 2 of “Big Mouth” is Out and Grosser than Ever

Season 2 of “Big Mouth” sees the show beginning to mature, taking on more serious material, but as a whole it’s true to its raunchy roots.

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Season two of Nick Kroll’s animated comedy “Big Mouth,” a raunchy series that follows a group of middle schoolers through puberty, dropped on Netflix last week after months of hype, and it didn’t disappoint. In its sophomore season, the show proved itself capable of straddling the line between disgusting and charming in 10 26-minute episodes, all continuing to follow a group of middle schoolers as they navigate the pitfalls of puberty.

The series focuses on Nick (Nick Kroll), Andrew (John Mulaney), and Jessi (Jessi Klein). The second season continues to develop season 1 plotlines, like Nick’s insecurity about his lack of pubic hair, Andrew’s humiliating relationship drama, and Jessi’s parents’ divorce. The show also features “hormone monsters,” creatures that embody tweenage horniness, for each of the kids, and introduces a new monster, the Shame Wizard (David Thewlis), who tortures the friends with another middle school staple: self-loathing.

Shame Wizard isn’t the only new character in season two; we also meet Gina (Gina Rodriguez), a classmate of the group whose massive boobs draw gradewide attention. As with most of the material, the show deftly balances crude humor with more sincere moments, from Nick and Andrew leering at her chest to Jessi inciting gradewide slutshaming. The sexual harassment Gina deals with is often presented via the juvenile humor that makes “Big Mouth” so appealing; the show can’t help her, even when the subject matter gets increasingly disturbing. “Big Mouth” definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously.

This goes for Jessi’s storyline too, as she deals with her warring parents and eventually depression. She shoplifts, coerces friends into doing drugs, and acts out all of the cliché markers of a depressed teenage girl. The writers don’t romanticize mental illness, nor do they give it a central role in the season. Its place in the show is pretty two-dimensional, so while the intent might have been to approach depression with a more satirical take, it doesn’t totally deliver.

Episode five is another notable example of the writers tackling important issues. “The Planned Parenthood Show,” set in the kids’ sex ed class, is a collection of skits featuring Nathan Fillion (and plenty of dick jokes) that describes the role of Planned Parenthood in women’s reproductive health care. The episode features preachy one-liners about the complexity of the organization that read almost like an overexaggerated PSA, as well as cartoonish misogynist villains.

That might just be what the show does best. While “Big Mouth” might not be making too much new or complex social commentary, it reflects a culture in which issues like menstruation, mental health, and reproductive health are normalized and destigmatized. They can be featured in comedy alongside more common subjects of humor. The show is insanely watchable, fast-paced, and punchy, despite the numerous heavy topics it tackles, and for that the writers must be commended.

Even so, for anyone looking for a hard-hitting series, this isn’t the series for you. While the social themes are important, the show is still, at its heart, a comedy. It’s nice to see the show mature and harness its viewership to do some good, but part of the show’s niche is simple satire, so expecting complexity may be a bit of a stretch. The issues portrayed are overexaggerated and oversimplified; that’s what makes it so hilarious. The tradeoff is that it also means if you’re expecting a more nuanced touch, “Big Mouth” probably won’t deliver.

Basically, season two of “Big Mouth” is more everything. As the characters get increasingly developed, the charming moments are more so, but the same goes for the crass ones. The balancing of extremes is one of the show’s biggest appeals, and the writers have taken it to the next level, so if you were a fan of season one, expect more of the same, but better.