Review by Adam Donato
It’s another new season for Big Mouth and that comes with a new school year at Bridgeton Middle School. It’s more of the same for the poor children as they confront a new monster this season, Hate. Nick likes Jessi, Jessi likes Ali, Missy hates all of them, and Andrew is just jerking off. Jay and Lola are on again, off again, while Matthew is starting to relapse with Jay. Love triangles galore and some songs along the way. Is the latest season of Big Mouth a standout?
The season starts out with a bang and slowly declines into mediocrity. It’s not an overwhelming detour in quality, but the mistreatment of developing characters and a perceived lack of fresh ideas holds this season back. Especially in comparison to the last two seasons, which now feel like the peak of the show. Even the songs in this season feel uninspired and won’t be remembered. It’s still generally enjoyable as the jokes maintain their humor and nothing story wise is irreparable.
Without spoiling anything, several characters feel like a retread of previous arcs. Nick and Jessi dated briefly in season one and that doesn’t seem to be brought up this season as Nick pathetically thirsts after Jessi again. It didn’t work before and there’s nothing that happened between then and now for it to be a natural progression of their situation. Sure, Nick found himself longing for Jessi in his future imagination during last season’s finale, but it’s just disappointing seeing this plotline be resuscitated. Similarly, Matthew drops both of the storylines that make him interesting so that he can be infatuated with Jay. This is unfortunate because the last couple seasons made a concerted effort to bolster his character into more than just a side stereotype joke character.
A new school year feels like an opportunity to update the characters a bit. There’s a chance for some growth. The only character that looks any differently is Missy. It feels like the show is trying to do damage control with the character of Andrew this season. He’s done some pretty irredeemable things in previous seasons and this season goes out of its way to make him more likable. His whole internal storyline is just to be more chill and in touch with his feelings. There’s a nice moment between him and his father that helps develop their relationship, but there’s also a scene where Andrew straight up pleases himself at Nick’s house right next to Nick and Jessi. Obviously this cartoon show is an exaggeration of what it’s like to be a horny teen, but it's reasonable for people to lose any hope for genuinely caring about Andrew.
The show does experiment with different forms of representation as there’s an episode with puppets and other forms of animation. It is nice to see that kind of effort be put into the show. There’s a very large swing that is taken towards the finale of the season. On the one hand, it’s funny and an interesting concept to explore in this world. On the other hand, it feels lazy and lacking in emotional effectiveness. Seasons three and four both leave off feeling satisfying and thematically compelling, but this finale makes the show feel like it’s running out of steam. Maybe the show desperately needs a paradigm shift and hopefully the future transition to high school will make the show feel fresh.
It’s unfortunate, but there’s not much here. The show isn’t suddenly terrible, but it is a noticeable step down in quality from previous seasons. Regular fans of the show shouldn’t not watch this season, though. It delivers enough laughs and good moments to suffice, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a drop in viewership if the show doesn’t reinvent itself soon. In the nicest way possible, this season is serviceable.
Big Mouth streams on Netflix beginning November 5.