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March 19, 2018 | by  | in Arts TV |
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Big Mouth

Netflix’s Big Mouth is hilarious, challenging, vile, and charming, all at the same time.

The 10-episode animated series, featuring an all-star voice cast, focuses in on the most demanding and confronting years in an adolescent’s life, displaying to the fullest extent possible just how challenging puberty can be. With a complete lack of filter and constraint, the show, mainly through the eyes of pubescent teens Nick and Andrew (characters based on two of the series creators Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg), deals with the bewildering, complicated, and unrelenting changes brought about by hormones. Alongside the teens are the outrageous “Hormone Monster” characters, who serve to only heighten how awkward and unpleasant puberty can be.  

The lack of restraint of the show may turn some viewers off entirely – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (like when a 13-year-old boy teaches his friends how to masturbate with a pillow). But it is the show’s inherent lewdness that allows for the creation of a landscape where the adolescent characters are able to freely discuss their feelings, confusions, and urges — making room for an open conversation about puberty and its challenges. It’s hard to think of a show that has made puberty its central focus, and has dealt with it in the concentrated and free manner that Big Mouth does.

The show, which could have only been created in animated format, is often crude and crosses the line at times, but it still remains honest throughout. Nick and Andrew’s relationship is a genuine portrayal of the difficulty teenagers face in handling, maintaining, and creating friendships when they’re developing at different speeds. The creators clearly comprehend what real life adolescents deal with, and because of this, the show is likely to speak to most people on some level.

Where Big Mouth succeeds is how it manages to recognise both the contrasting and similar effects puberty has on boys and girls. Despite Nick and Andrew being the show’s protagonists, the show commits the same amount of time to exploring the struggle faced by adolescent girls, doing it in a way that other formats have generally failed to do. The show’s character exploration extends beyond its pubescent protagonists, often making touching commentary on the lives of parents and adults in general. From marijuana addictions and sexual awakenings, to social ineptitude, many of the adult characters are involved in experiencing what could rightfully be seen as a second adolescence of their own.

In an utterly relatable way, Big Mouth represents the salient emergence of sex-positivity and inclusion of this generation. Amidst the absurdity and shock value of each episode lies a thoughtful and tactfully written plot, providing much-needed validation to our inner child that at the end of the day, we all go through the same shit.

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