‘Big Mouth’ season 5 is trademark raunchy comedy approaching stale

photo from Big Mouth
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Grade: 2.5/5.0

Currently sitting as one of the most popular shows on the Netflix platform is “Big Mouth.”  The show, loved and hated by many, is not free from controversy; its depictions of sex and adolescence are already uncomfortable enough as is, and the show only recently moved past its faults regarding the voicing of a Black character by a white actress for three seasons. The show knows it isn’t for those who desire television without a little bit of baggage. Regardless, “Big Mouth” remains a raunchy, hilarious exploration into the trials and tribulations of growing up, no matter how taboo they may be. 

Following the horny adolescence of the kids at Bridgeton Middle School in suburban New York, the fifth season of Big Mouth is no different from seasons past, as best friends Andrew (John Mulaney) and Nick (Nick Kroll) try to understand their changing hormones (and hormone monsters) as they navigate their relationships with themselves and the other kids at school. This season in particular finds side characters playing more central roles in the overall narrative, as Jessi (Jessi Klein), Ali (Ali Wong), Missy (Ayo Edebiri), Jay (Jason Mantzoukas) and Matthew (Andrew Rannells) all get their chance in the spotlight, dealing with their budding personalities. 

This season introduces the Lovebugs, who appear as the kids explore the fine line between love, hate and obsession. The kids of Bridgeton Middle seem to be striving to be more emotionally mature than ever before, even if some of them still can’t make it through an entire day without masturbating. The humor in the fifth season remains generally fresh, as the trademark silly voices (most of them done by Nick Kroll) remain spot-on, especially in every hormone monster interjection. As the show’s concept is comedy gold, it’s easy to see why it continues to prosper. 

However, “Big Mouth” begins to rely on the same tired gimmicks as well as invent less engaging new ones, as the longevity of the show is especially evident in the decline of the writing quality. Some of the main characters, such as Andrew, remain almost entirely stagnant throughout the season, as it seems like they’ve run out of plotlines for him to be involved in, recycling the same problems he’s had for the past few seasons yet again. As such, “Big Mouth” suffers from the classic slump many shows of the same length have, and is in need of a change of setting or the introduction of new characters for future seasons. 

The show’s new gimmicks — including a Christmas episode done with hormone monster puppets and an extended Nick Kroll fourth-wall-breaking cameo in the show’s last episode — are often jarring and unsuccessful, as they distract from the usual charm of the animated raunchiness. While the show shouldn’t be stopped from incentivizing creativity, these innovations should come from the show’s plot structure, not failed reinventions of the show’s genre, as the quirky animation style serves just fine. 

The fifth season is arguably not as boundary-pushing as past seasons, losing exactly some of what makes “Big Mouth” unique from other shows. Previous seasons had songs about code-switching and exploring mixed racial identity; this time around, more nuanced characters such as Missy seem to be pushed to the sidelines. In her case, she’s relegated to perpetual angry outbursts instead of more personal exploration. However, the very small piece of storyline she’s offered, a plotline about Jessi and Ali taking over her affinity group, is one of the show’s most memorable moments, as Missy begins to stand up for herself for what feels like the first time, only to revert back to her old ways at the season’s close. 

Regardless of what content it spews next, hilarious or otherwise, “Big Mouth” will likely continue for as many seasons as is feasible, and will inspire many spin-offs to boot, as it still rakes in millions of viewers each time it premieres. Though it’s freshly released, season five begins to reveal signs of a show slowly going stale.

Caitlin Keller covers television. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @caitlinkeller20.