Big Mouth occupies a strange corner of Netflix’s offerings. It’s an extremely raunchy, regularly informative, look into the sex lives of what is largely an animated cast of teens. One character regularly has sex with inanimate objects like pillows, and another masturbates like it’s going out of style. Given the already wild nature of the show, each new season seems to be trying to up the ante on the last, and while the previous season certainly accomplished that lofty goal, the new one does not hit the same heights.
Individually, the episodes this season are OK. They’re often dealing with the terribleness of puberty and hormones and sex in a way that’s funny and charming if not always upbeat. But as a whole, the season’s attempts to tie anything together largely fails. Whereas previous seasons would often have some overarching thematic throughline, this season just… doesn’t, and it’s weaker for it.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Big Mouth manages to succeed at conveying some significant information about gender, sexual orientation, and sex in an often hilarious manner. This should come as no surprise to those that have watched the previous two seasons. But these bright moments are juxtaposed with segments where, for example, one of the main characters, Andrew, lusts after his cousin, and there’s an entire flashback episode about the ghost of Duke Ellington. For as many times as Big Mouth’s third season is firing on all cylinders, there’s just as many misfires.
Which can be extremely frustrating to watch. Big Mouth, when it first released, felt a little bit like a pressure-release valve. A way to talk about and make fun of all of the terribleness of puberty and sex and everything related to those completely natural things without it devolving into shaming or otherwise derogatory narratives. It’s never been perfect, but for a show about kids and sex, it’s hard to find a more honest, positive show that still manages to include poop and fart jokes whenever possible.
And that’s kind of the rub of this season. If the previous two hadn’t been something special, something I still just put on to watch every now and again despite the fact that my professional life is spent watching, playing, and reading media, this third season would get by just fine. But because the bar was set so high, it’s only middling compared to its previous successes, even if it still manages to stand out from the rest of Netflix’s catalog.
Big Mouth’s new season is fine, with some flashes of brilliance, and it’s hard to actually dislike the show’s new episodes. The problem is that it feels like sometimes Big Mouth isn’t entirely sure which boundaries to push, and so pushes all of them simultaneously, and it’s a bit much for a show that’s already, as a brand, a bit much. If you’re a fan of the previous seasons of Big Mouth, this is more of the same, but it left me a bit cold compared to its more ambitious second season.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Big Mouth Season 3 releases on Netflix this Friday, October 4th.