Hulu has always had some Korean dramas, but the number was small. Now, the streaming platform seems to be investing in streaming rights to compete with Netflix’s K-drama slate and I couldn’t be happier. Big Mouth (also romanized as Big Mouse) is one of those recent acquisitions and it’s one hell of a ride.
Big Mouth is directed by Oh Choong-Hwan and written by Ha Ram, with Lee Jong-Suk in the series’ titular role, well, kind of. You see, Big Mouth’s first episode is nothing but a set-up for its main course. In it, we meet mild-mannered and debt-ridden Park Chang-Ho. A loving husband, too kind for his own good, he’s an attorney with only a ten-percent winning rate. Called into a case way above his pay grade, it becomes clear that Chang-ho is being made to just sit and act on what his client tells him to do. His low win rate means he can be manipulated which leaves him stuck. However, when he’s mysteriously drugged and injured, he finds himself at the center of a murder case and assumes the identity of the notorious and genius con artist Big Mouse when he’s arrested.
The bulk of Big Mouth takes place behind bars and Chang-ho’s goal shifts from clearing his name, surviving, and protecting his family, to changing the unequal systems running in the prison and outside. In fact, Chang-ho shifts as a character into someone starker in their rush to justice, but also more aware of how to use the people around him. And this happens without him losing his moral ground.
There is no mistaking it, Big Mouth is Lee’s series. The way that he is able to embody tender care and mild demeanor in one part of the series as Chang-ho, only to flip a switch and become the formidable and immovable Big Mouse is phenomenal. But while he shifts his personality visually, be that in how his hair is positioned, or the bruises on his face, or the furrow of his brow, he never loses any elements of the character that he played before. In fact, to be Big Mouse, Chang-ho doesn’t have to kill his moral core, he just needs to reframe it a little. This ultimately helps him form relationships with other characters in the prison that have a lasting impact.
While Chang-ho is who makes this series great, it’s the care that goes into crafting his wife’s storyline that makes it a dynamic hit. Chang-ho is the main character, but Miho (Im Yoon-ah)is a fully fleshed-out character in her own right, even if her main motivation is to save her husband and clear his name. As Miho, Im manages to capture a love and respect for her husband, but also a tenacity that makes her a compelling character. Yes, she is moved to act for her husband, but her intelligence and integrity keep her on the right path and help her unravel the mystery she finds herself stuck in as well.
And together, Lum Yoon-A and Lee Jong-suk have such a striking chemistry that it’s hard not to root for them. They’re tender, playful, and resilient as a pair. This helps unite the two narratives of the series into one, and as a viewer, you hope that they get to be together without prison glass between them in the end.
Big Mouth is a mystery-crime-drama with just the right amount of comedy. It offers some large sweeping breakdowns of class politics and incarceration, and ultimately, tells a stellar story that takes time to unravel itself with a compelling lead at its center. And, to be honest, the prison fights are extremely fun to watch. Tune in to Big Mouth for Lee Jong-suk, but stay for a phenomenal cast of characters, a gripping story, and charisma. Mysterious murder and an even more mysterious con man, medical experiments, and more are all afoot in this K-drama.
Big Mouth is streaming now, exclusively on Hulu.
Tune in to Big Mouth for Lee Jong-suk, but stay for a phenomenal cast of characters, a gripping story, and charisma.