Your favorite middle-schoolers, if that is even a thing that could exist, are back in season 3 of Netflix’s Big Mouth. As they move further into their post-elementary careers, their maturity levels continue to elevate, right? Nope. It didn’t happen for you, and it sure isn’t happening for them. The show has made a name for itself in providing gross-out humor that is counteracted by thought-provoking arguments you wish you were presented with at that age. Its first two seasons had a perfect balance of each. This season, however, seemed to emphasize the gross with mixed results in its messaging making it difficult for the good points that are made to be as potent as they normally would.
Season 3 technically starts out with the Valentine’s Day themed episode which, if you are a TRUE fan like me, you saw months ago when it came out. With that in mind, we’re gonna focus on the episodes that have come out this month. Its comedic timing and focus is strong right out of the gate, with a look at the sexism that is attached to dress codes as well as technology addictions that appear to be obtained at a younger and younger age. Unsurprisingly, things get weird as we get to Florida. When best friends Nick and Andrew go down to the panhandle with Andrew’s family, the latter develops a crush on his cousin and the feelings appear mutual. It would be one thing if this was a one episode thing and he learns his lesson, but his infatuation continues for a good majority of the rest of the season with no true resolution. He even goes as far as to arrange a photoshoot with the help of his hormone monster of his underdeveloped genitalia to send to her, and yes everything is shown. Sure, they have done the same with the female genitalia, but they at least place some eyes and a mouth on it and make it a character, voiced by Kristen Wiig no less. Here, it’s just creepy. I feel like the writers do this just because it’s John Mulaney’s character and no one could ever hate him or what he does. That’s a fact.
The show continues to flesh out (that phrasing sounds weird in this context, I know) the character of Matthew, the school’s only openly gay student, by providing him with a love interest who makes him look at his sexuality in a way that he has never done before while also presenting the more brash Jay’s struggle with his bisexuality. However, they could have done more especially considering the excessive amount of time place on incest. And although they appeared to succeed in their presentation of these LGBTQ+ related issues, they admittedly dropped the ball when introducing pansexuality through a new character named Ali. It was the first time the show really received some widespread backlash believe it or not. While Ali explains what it means to be pansexual to her fellow students, she seems to diminish bisexuality as nothing more than a non-inclusive, outdated form of pansexuality. Of course, these young kids are not expected to fully understand these concepts. But by the end they are supposed to learn the truth, and no correction was made. Andrew Goldberg, a co-creator on the show, apologized for the insensitivity in its presentation with a promise to do a better job in future seasons. There is no reason to believe they cannot given their track record, but for now a bad taste is left in the (big) mouths of many who look to the show for accurate representation.
A groove seems to have been found again towards the end of the season with looks at sexual harassment and drug abuse. The shallowness in me, though, has to highlight the Queer Eye cameo made in the second-to-last episode in which the Fab Five give Coach Steve a makeover. He hopes to return to the school after getting fired and working a new job (poorly) in all of the other episodes. Sure, it’s corporate synergy, but it’s also hilarious to see them in this world and nearly losing it on this dimwitted man who honestly is the heart and soul of this show.
The aforementioned best friends Nick and Andrew find themselves at a crossroads when Nick is caught kissing Andrew’s non-familial love interest, Missy, who are the leads in a very mature for middle school musical take on 1994’s Disclosure. A relationship forms between the two of them but quickly dissipates when Nick realizes he gets annoyed by Missy. His carelessness towards Andrew’s feelings, who let’s be honest has been pretty careless himself with his feelings this season, pushes Andrew to end their friendship just as they were supposed to go to summer camp together. Nick’s predicament summarizes the season as a whole pretty well. Important steps forward were made in some ways, but there were also plenty of mistakes made that require some soul searching in response. The show has plenty of room to grow. Not only because the strong writers and cast are capable, but also because Netflix ordered a fourth, fifth and sixth season back in July of this year prior to this third season’s release. Cause middle school is not only painful; it’s long too.