Season 2 of ‘Big Mouth’ takes humorous approach to childhood mental development

Brooke Sjoberg

Ever wondered what a monster with a permanently flaccid penis for a nose looks like? “Big Mouth” is here to satisfy that curiosity.

The latest installment of Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg’s disgustingly humorous Netflix Original “Big Mouth” has been released to the world in one giant cringe. The animated comedy, known for its crude depictions of puberty, has made its way from fart and period jokes to discussions of the mind. This season focuses on characters Nick (Nick Kroll) and Andrew (John Mulaney) as they experience the mental consequences of developing too slowly and too quickly, respectively. Their “Hormone Monster,” Maurice (Kroll), does his best to guide them through adolescence but find roadblocks left and right.

While the first season of “Big Mouth” addressed the physicality of puberty — menstruation, facial hair, the works — the second season explores the mentality of middle schoolers and one weird adult in the throes of development. The show’s humor and animation are too direct for a young audience, yet they model healthy discussions of sex and mental health essential to proper human growth.

The hallmark of Kroll’s voice acting within the series is his versatility. He is credited with at least 10 characters, and each voice is different enough that a viewer may not be able to discern who the characters are played by without searching the IMDb page. The voices Kroll provides for Lola, Maury, Nick and Coach Steve, to name a few, are unique and speak to their personalities. The series is truly gives credit to his talent.

Many types of relationships are modeled in the series. Friendships that are both healthy and unhealthy serve as “teachable moments” where Nick and Andrew have arguments that define their friendship, and Lola and Devin (June Diane Raphael) push each other over the edge and out of each other’s lives. Putting these relationships in the context of physical and mental upheavals experienced by preteens may provide parents with a model for discussing good and bad friendships with their children.

The curious case of Coach Steve also provides a platform for understanding the frozen nature of traumatized children’s development. Previously, the coach was depicted as a well-meaning but dim source of comic relief. As he evolves into a fully-developed character, it becomes clear that he was abused and neglected. Coach Steve was left to figure out what was going on with his body and the world on his own. He seems frozen in a similar stage of development as the children he is looking after, for they are his only friends. He refers to his own anatomy and that of others in reductive terms appropriate for children, but wildly inappropriate for a grown man. He is naive and unaware of this, so he is treated with kid gloves by the adults in his life.

Perhaps biting off more than it could chew with Coach Steve, “Big Mouth” is a bitter exploration of what it means to become a teenager in all its nasty glory. The humor may be a bit on the nose for viewers with delicate sensibilities, but is well worth the watch if it can be stomached.

Rating: TV-MA

Score: 4.5/5