“‘Big Mouth’: A Well-Done Teen Romp with an Unexpected Side of Good Advice”

By Maya Mukherjee, age 15, United Nations International School, New York City


Puberty, a time marked, quite literally, by sweat stains and body hair, is a period most of us would not like to memorialize. Barring the creators of “Big Mouth,” that is. Netflix’s four-season animated sensation centers on adolescent boys Nick and Andrew and their pubescent escapades in an American suburb. It’s nothing short of a loud, colorful love letter to our most gangly, acne-ridden years.

The writers’ vivid recollection of puberty without rose-colored glasses hits home for many teens such as myself. When the show’s female lead, Jesse, uses a tampon for the first time, we are spared the trite blood drop on the spotless white underwear. Instead, the event is the main plotline in an episode whose title speaks for itself: “The Hugest Period Ever.” If these milestones of change aren’t clear enough, each character is given a “Hormone Monster” — the embodiment of many teens’ most murky, indecent and downright disgusting thoughts.

Don’t let the Adult Swim-esque facade fool you, though. While characters make raunchy jokes galore, “Big Mouth” writers don’t fall into the reductive “dark humor” pitfalls of “South Park” and “Family Guy” fame. Instead, the show uses its popularity with teens to tackle serious issues like depression, sexual identity and consent. It even sends positive messages that can’t be easily dismissed with a flick of the finger on the “barf” or “cringe” emojis.

The show’s ability to portray the ups and downs of puberty with admirable accuracy and minimal self-consciousness allows it to take on the role of the “cool counselor.” That is, an adult who understands the sometimes kaleidoscope-vibrant and sometimes silent-film-austere teen perspective. This authenticity doesn’t just make the show relatable, it gives it credibility. Whether it’s the portrayal of the benefits of therapy and meditation or suggestions on how to navigate childhood friendships and first romances, the teen viewer is actually willing to tune in and listen. And yes, it seems silly to pay more heed to Zen, all-knowing toads on an animated show than to education professionals. But teens are more ready to hear “Big Mouth’s” take because it’s like getting the lowdown from a slightly older friend, rather than a lecture from a tired teacher bound by state guidelines.

Though it may have been out-watched by “Bridgerton” and “The Queen’s Gambit,” “Big Mouth’s” mix of foul language, filthy humor and friendly counsel provides the ideal respite for any Zoom-beleaguered teen.