'Big Mouth' Ups the Sincerity While Bringing the Laughs in Season 5
Starring Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Ali Wong, Maya Rudolph, Jon Daly, Ayo Edebiri, Jak Knight, Jason Mantzoukas, Pamela Adlon, Brandon Kyle Goodman
Published Nov 09, 2021Big Mouth has spent its first four seasons entertaining viewers by balancing a barrage of sexual jokes and innuendos while peppering in nostalgia, hot button issues and even some musical numbers. One of the strengths of Nick Kroll's animated Netflix series is its commitment to jam as many jokes into a 25-minute episode as possible. And even amidst all the jokes about masturbating and embarrassing yourself in front of your crush, the show still finds a way to feel heartfelt and pointed in its political messaging without (usually) feeling heavy-handed. Big Mouth's newest season does more of the same, and though it may feel a tad repetitive after four seasons, the gags, characters and story make for an entertaining watch.
Season 5 picks up with many of the characters going through some significant changes. Nick (Kroll) has become infatuated with Jessi (Jessi Klein), who has been crushing on Nick's older, more intriguing brother Judd (Jon Daly). Missy (Ayo Edebiri), good friend of Nick and Jessi, also has feelings for a classmate. No, not squirmy, awkward and disgusting Andrew (John Mulaney), but DeVon (Jak Knight). Jay (Jason Mantzoukas) is dealing with heartbreak, as he struggles to get over his split with Lola (also voiced by Kroll), who failed to reciprocate Jay's declaration of love. Poor Jay opens the season falling back into old habits and spending far too much time with his pillow collection.
As the season progresses, new characters are introduced that incorporate more depth into the show. Nick and Jessi get bitten by their own pair of lovebugs, Walter (Brandon Kyle Goodman) and Sonya (Pamela Adlon). As the kids continue to navigate through the cringiest phases of their adolescence, the lovebugs help identify feelings of affection that extend beyond merely physical attraction. Nick feels more drawn to Jessi as their bond strengthens, while Jessi's lovebug contextualizes her budding relationship with new best friend Ali (Ali Wong). There is still plenty of crude behaviour peppered throughout the season — thanks to hormone monsters Maury, Rick and Connie (Maya Rudolph) — but watching the young group struggle with feelings bigger than fleeting sexual desires adds a sense of sincerity that would come and go in previous seasons.
On the flip side, when dealing with unrequited love and jealousy, characters are introduced to their hate worms, who fester and feed off negativity. After contending with the anxiety mosquitos of Season 4, now the kids have to contend with these worms encouraging them to participate in toxic behaviour. Nick and his friends are in constant flux as they try to process what is happening to them physically, socially and mentally. Characters have to experience the full gamut of emotions through the course of the season, which is heartbreaking, strange, uncomfortable and hilarious all at the same time.
Kroll, Klein, Mantzoukas, Rudolph and Mulaney represent a solid foundation of comedians that voice Big Mouth, but the newest season brings in even more voice talent to elevate the show. Season 5 includes appearances from the aforementioned Adlon, as well Adam Scott, Kristen Schaal and Kumail Nanjiani, whose jacked physique is in large part due to No Nut November. Really. And that doesn't even include other guest stars like David Thewlis, Thandiwe Newton, Zach Galifianakis and Maria Bamford, who are back reprising roles from previous seasons.
Narratively, Big Mouth continues to deliver the laughs while focusing on stories that focus on representation and the sexuality spectrum. While Nick, Andrew, Jessi and Jay began the series as the focal point, the show continues to gravitate toward secondary characters whose experiences differ from the heteronormative experience. People of colour at Bridgeton Middle also have more of a voice, which leads to compelling narratives. One of the season's earlier episodes revolves around a group of students protesting the school's problematic mascot, a scheming gypsy whose statue erected outside the school had been confused by some as Stevie Van Zandt. The episode kickstarts debates amongst the students, as certain individuals' motives are challenged, leading them to question what being an ally actually entails.
The newest season of the Netflix staple is another success, as the writers continue to excel at doing what they do best: injecting joke after joke within stories that feel personal and relatable to audiences young and old. Sure, some narrative elements feel familiar and some jokes fall flat, but volume is everything, and there are so many laugh-out-loud moments, fans will have a hard time picking their favourites. At least there will be a boatload of moments to choose from. (Netflix)