In every season Netflix’s Big Mouth sets out to prove that, yes, it’s a bawdy comedy about children masturbating… but it’s so much more than just a bawdy comedy about children masturbating. From its deceptively simple and crass first season to its most current fifth installment, the show has – much like its characters – taken the necessary time to mature. It’s a messy process, but the mess is necessary. Big Mouth Season 5 follows closely in the footsteps of Season 4, going beyond the physical awkwardness of puberty and introducing the adolescent characters to the broader, more complicated world that comes with growing up. However, as a standalone season, Big Mouth Season 5 feels a bit like an uncomfortable growth spurt. Where previous seasons committed themselves to the growth of particular characters or an in-depth study of an aspect of growing up, Season 5 feels like an evolution rather than a resolution.
Big Mouth is the creation of Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett. Season 5 welcomes back the talents of stars Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Maya Rudolph, and Ayo Edebiri returning as the new voice of Missy. But wait, there’s more! Big Mouth Season 5 boasts the hilarious additions of Kristen Schaal (Bob’s Burgers), Jemaine Clement, Adam Scott, Pamela Adlon, Keke Palmer, Brandon Kyle Goodman, and Kumail Nanjiani (I have two words for you, dear reader: Cum Kumail).
In Big Mouth Season 5, love is in the air at Bridgeton Middle School. Our tumultuous pre-teens find themselves recovering from break-ups, sparking new attractions, and experimenting with intimacy… physical and emotional. The arrival of the Lovebugs adds a complicated new layer to the sexual tension and desperation for connection – for some of our characters, love will be a thrilling development in their — well, development – while others are destined for the sting of heartbreak.
In case it wasn’t already apparent, Big Mouth Season 5 centers on themes of emotional maturity. Bodies are changing, hormones are raging, and standing on the precipice of young adulthood means that the kids of Bridgeton Middle School have a new view of the world, their loved ones, and of themselves. Big Mouth plucks the rush of attraction out of the horny, bodied lust of previous seasons and adds the crushing element of an all-consuming crush. The thing about love is that it can just as easily turn to hate.
The show digs in on emotional expression, not just within the scope of young love, but as a choice and a way of being. Emotional maturity takes many forms in Big Mouth Season 5. It’s about communication between partners – just as important for physical pleasure, as it is for trust and support. It’s about understanding and unpacking complex relationships between children and parents. It’s about being a good friend, admitting wrongdoing, and choosing to be accountable for your actions or appealing to your better self.
In its fifth season, Big Mouth is still competently juggling its complicated blend of dick-jokes, matured insight, heart, and humor. With each new concept, that balancing act becomes a bit more challenging but thus far the show does go on. That being said, Big Mouth Season 5 is definitely where we can begin to see cracks developing in the show’s foundation – as compared to previous seasons. Season 5 marked the first instance where this critic had to ask – “Where can we go from here?”
Up to this point, the thing that Big Mouth has really been able to hang its hat on is its innocence. Yes, there is a wide-eyed innocence to a show that features an image of Santa’s dick (you’ve been warned). The innocence of the characters and their journey of discovery has kept the show on solid footing. We’re all in it together. Big Mouth Season 5 has complicated this settled space greatly by putting each of its characters at entirely different phases of their development and even going so far as to portray its first instance of two characters losing their virginity. That changes things.
On the one hand, it’s a bold move and definitely an honest portrayal of growing up. We all do mature at different rates and rack up experiences on a broad timeline. However, it does bring the characters up to a threshold of sorts. What happens to the characters that cross over – that grow up first – and what happens to the ones that are still going through changes? That is the challenge that is facing every season of Big Mouth from this point on.
Even as things get complicated in Season 5, Big Mouth still holds strong as the smartest show streaming. The growing menagerie of Hormone Monsters, Lovebugs, Hate Worms, Anxiety Mosquitoes, Gratitoads, and more are overwhelming to the viewer… but never confusing and always portrayed in a way that feels authentic to the complicated emotions we have all experienced. In Season 5 especially, Big Mouth flexes its uninhibitedness with a truly deranged holiday episode, solidifying that as the show undergoes its own changes the roots of wacky debauchery remain strong. No guilt, all pleasure.
Big Mouth Season 5 is streaming now, exclusively on Netflix.
Big Mouth Season 5
- Rating - 7.5/107.5/10
In Season 5 especially, Big Mouth flexes its uninhibitedness with a truly deranged holiday episode, solidifying that as the show undergoes its own changes the roots of wacky debauchery remain strong. No guilt, all pleasure.
Caitlin is a sweater enthusiast, film critic, and lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began with being shown Rosemary’s Baby at a particularly impressionable age and she’s been hooked ever since. She loves a good bourbon and hates people who talk in movies. Caitlin has been writing since 2014 and you can find her work on Film Inquiry, The Financial Diet, Nightmarish Conjurings, and many others.