17th Dec2020

‘Big Mouth: Season 4’ Review (Netflix)

by Rhys Payne

Objectively speaking, I am a massive fan of Big Mouth and have reviewed the show since the first season in 2017. But, for those of you who have not heard of this show before, it’s an animated mature comedy about children going through puberty… Which sounds like it shouldn’t work (and at times does become uncomfortable to watch but more on that later) but it does and will have you laughing throughout! It has been over a year since the last season if this show and many people – myself included – have been eagerly waiting to see what will happen to the character in the future. Despite personal affection towards the show as a professional, if I do say so myself, I have to review the series subjectively while considering the topics it covers, comedy used and overall performance of the show, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Without further ado… here is my completely honest review of Big Mouth: Season 4, which recently landed on Netflix!

Big Mouth has an all-star cast of comedy geniuses behind it; including Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph and Jordan Peele – among others – and from the people involved you know this is going to be a laugh a minute show, full of insanely clever jokes/gags. The first thing to keep in mind with this show is despite it being animated, with catchy songs and told through the perspective of young children, it is NOT a show for kids. The show contains numerous instances of extremely strong language and graphic sexual depictions/references. While the contrasts of the mature topics explored by the young kids in an animated show does create numerous hilarious moments; I think that at some points it becomes uncomfortable to watch, such as the scene in which the audience ends up watching naked animated kids showering with a focus on their genitalia… which was super-uncomfortable as a viewer!

Talking about this season of Big Mouth specifically, I thought the way they started this season was fantastic. It opened with a musical recap of what had happened over the previous three seasons – which is incredible as previously stated, it’s been over a year since the last series; so many people may have forgotten the overall story. This was formatted to be your classic “musical theatre” inspired spectacular, which was a very fun song to listen to. It also reintroduced the characters and as a few are somewhat complex, this was a very accessible way to remind the viewers.

What was fantastic about this season is the way they explored big issues that are facing kids nowadays. I honestly loved the inclusion of Tito the anxiety mosquito and specifically how he was introduced to the show during a high-stress situation. This character was almost a voice from inside the main character, Nick, voiced by Nick Kroll and later on through other characters. The mosquito was a physicalisation of anxiety that they suffer and can see, which is an honest reflection of mental health. It puts thoughts into the characters heads about how no one likes them etc., and interprets things in a negative way, which is a perfect representation for mental health. Not only is showing mental health issues on a TV show important but it is especially important as it was children who were suffering from these issues. For a long time I have thought about creating a story in which anxiety is given a human form, to portray how this mental health issue feels like… but Big Mouth beat me to it and in all honesty did it better than I ever could have! This lead to a scene in which one of the characters goes to therapy – which is great especially considering it was a young girl.

There was also the inclusion of a transgender character in this season, which was amazing. This character showcased the different ways boys and girls often react to someone when they are transitioning but also demonstrated the anxieties and stupid questions they face regularly. This inclusion can only benefit any LGBT+ viewers and aims to remove the stigma many people have around trans issues. For a show considered as a comedy, to cover transgender representation and mental health honestly and respectfully was incredible, which all the team should be proud of! LGBT+ issues are very important to the creative minds behind this show. One of my favourite jokes in the entire series is when an LGBT+ character was having a heartfelt, heated, argument with his mother who was not accepting who he was. They used the idea of baking a cake to explore this argument; where the gay character utters the phrase “I don’t know the utensils, I do not like the ingredients” when talking about baking with women, which is an obvious joke about sexual preferences.

Another big issue that was discussed in this season was the issue of BIPOC identities, especially the African American strand. Now as a white man I am not able to truly analyse the portrayals used in this show, as I am not fully able to relate to the serious issue of race but from what o understand I think the show did this fantastically. My personal favourite was a song all about “code-switching” which is where you adapt your language to reflect your audience around you. As an English degree graduate I loved seeing this complex concept not only being shown on TV but also explained in a fun and easy to understand manner. This song was demonstrating how one African America character feels the need to change his mannerism to fit in with the type of people he is surrounded by – the point being that oftentimes people are scared to be themselves around certain people, which honestly breaks my heart. There was also an extended discussion about how the black characters within the show are sometimes voiced by white actors and actresses which has been a topic of discussions for many years and is another important issue that needs to be resolved. There were also acute references to airport security towards ethnic groups and all lives matter ridicule.

Overall Big Mouth is a fun and comedic show that explores some very important issues in a very accessible way. The episodes are only 25 minutes long, so perfect for binge-watching but I would recommend that you watch the previous seasons before watching this latest, as you may miss some of the underlying ideas and themes of the show.

***** 5/5

Big Mouth: Season 4 is available on Netflix now.

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