Warning: mild spoilers ahead.
On October 4, the third season of Andrew Goldberg and Nick Kroll’s hit animated puberty comedy, Big Mouth, premiered on Netflix. The Valentine’s Day special, “My Furry Valentine,” which had premiered on February 8, was included as the technical first of the 11-episode lineup.
The characteristic raunchiness of Big Mouth was a constant throughout this season, while the show’s writers gleefully dove into more subject matter definitive of the awkward age of its young protagonists — some more expertly addressed than others, as noted by fans’ criticism of the show’s definition of LGBT+ terms, prompting a well-received apology from the show’s creator.
Nevertheless, the season tackles colorism, bisexuality, cell phone addiction, study drug use, and incest. Oh, and it also clumsily deals with sexual harassment in its musical episode (which, despite my being a musical aficionado, was actually probably my least favorite episode of the season).
That episode, “Disclosure the Movie: The Musical!” seemed like a lightning round for possible sexual harassment scenarios that could happen: the gang helps the always-annoying but somehow-still-sympathetic tryhard Lola come to terms with the sexual harrasment she is experiencing at the hands of a teacher, with the backdrop of a school musical based on a movie about male sexual harassment, which is not treated as valid by the show’s young female characters.
Watching Lola agreeing to rub her teacher’s feet and Mr. Lizer’s subsequent reactions to their being caught is probably one of the most uncomfortable moments of the show, which is saying a lot for a series that frequently features tiny hairy penises in various contexts.
Despite this, season 3 is consistently charming. One standout gem can be found in episode 7, “Duke,” which turns its spotlight onto the Ghost of Duke Ellington character (voiced by a frequently-singing Jordan Peele) and is filled with treats. From a delightful modified opening sequence with a jaunty old-timey theme song matching the episode-long flashback into Ellington’s childhood to a cameo appearance by Harriet Tubman (voiced by a hilarious Wanda Sykes!) to one-liners like “My father, J.E. was as smooth as the transition from slavery to the prison-industrial complex!” the episode serves as a well-placed break from the mishaps at Bridgeton Middle School and as a welcome reminder of Jordan Peele’s vast array of talents. Additionally, the episode gives viewers a playful “check yourselves” in the form of microaggressions from Andrew which the Ghost of Duke rebuffs throughout the episode, and has a whimsical B-plot featuring aforementioned hairy penises re-enacting World War II (which is just as much of an emotional journey as it sounds).
The most binge-worthy episodes, however, are the ones that stay true to the show’s core: puberty is awkward. Despite its weird twists and turns, the season manages to squeeze in enough character development to keep us invested in the growth of our favorite awkward teens, who we can’t help but see ourselves in.
And (here comes the spoilery part) in the season finale, some major drama goes down for our young heroes and sets up the next season beautifully.
It ends with a folksy acoustic cover of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” and with the uncertainty of whether the main characters’ friendship will be resolved by a summer at camp. Many more questions remain to be answered in the fourth season: how will we the audience interact with Jessi now that she’s being forced to move to the city? Is she being put on a bus? How will the Andrew-Nick-Missy love triangle proceed from here? Will we get the chance to hear Andrew Rannells sing again?
If you can get past all the cringe-worthy parts, Big Mouth season 3 is definitely worth the watch.
Image credits: Big Mouth on Netflix