As Americans focused their attention on news channels and newspapers over the past few months, Netflix quietly released the fourth season of their original series, Big Mouth, and it may be the best one yet. The premise is a bit unorthodox, if not uncomfortable to explain, but the animated show follows a group of middle school students as they navigate the struggles of puberty, followed around by their hormone monsters, visible only to them.
The show has found success in the past by leaning into its inappropriate subject matter, often throwing out crude jokes and potty humor, but this season is different. With the characters entering eighth grade, the showrunners address deeper topics such as one character, Matthew (Andrew Rannells), who spends the latter half of the season trying to gain his parents’ acceptance of his homosexuality, despite their conservative religious views. Or Missy (Jenny Slate), one of the main characters from season three who returns, questioning the racial identity passed on to her from a white mother and a Black father. With even more narratives including being transgender, consent, and anxiety caused by depression, these profound storylines give each character, not just the two or three from the beginning seasons, much more depth and connection to the audience.
“I think it’s important that [the show] covers hot-button topics, especially considering its wide range of viewers,” Sixth Former Jonny Flieder said. “I’ve talked to a few friends at school who watched it, and the consensus has been that the show always does a good job addressing serious issues through comedy, and this season is no different.”
Season four branches out from the main characters of Nick, Andrew, and Jessi to include stories on Matthew and Missy, as well as a hilarious season-long love affair between the constantly horny duo of Jay and Lola. To me, the decision was well made as it broadened out the world these characters live in and even gave some more context to events that have happened in seasons past, now with the knowledge of what these side characters dealt with at home. For those who still prefer the star trio, the season’s overall story still revolves around them, albeit in a slightly confusing way that seems to fall flat when compared to the emotions and seriousness of everything else that has been going on.
However, the inclusion of more serious “issues” does little to impact the show’s ability to make you laugh. The all-star cast of seasons one through three only gets better with the addition of John Oliver and Seth Rogan to an ensemble already featuring Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, Jordan Peele, and the aforementioned Jenny Slate. Each episode has numerous hilarious jokes and segments, often headlined by Coach Steve (Nick Kroll), as he continues to fail upwards in his immature exploration of the world.
Big Mouth season four takes steps to improve upon an already proven formula and comes out better for it.