Monday, October 8, 2018

REVIEW: 'Big Mouth' - Nick, Andrew and Jessi Risk Getting Stuck in Another Dimension in 'The Department of Puberty

Netflix's Big Mouth - Episode 2.10 "The Department of Puberty"

After traveling through a magic portal to puberty headquarters, Nick seeks out a new Hormone Monster and Jessi bonds with the Depression Kitty.

In 2018, it makes no sense to provide full-length reviews of each individual episode for shows released all at once on the streaming services. Sure, there are some shows out there that value the power of the episode. They do make a point in differentiating each episode to ensure it's not just one big slog to the finish. However, the ability to watch the entire season at one's own viewing pace has largely changed the way we consume and discuss these shows. So, some brief summary thoughts are really all that's actually necessary with these seasons. As such, here are my latest thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Big Mouth.

"The Department of Puberty" was written by Gil Ozeri and directed by Bob Suarez

The first season of Big Mouth ended with Nick traveling through another dimension in order to save a friend who was at risk of being stuck there forever. And now, the second season ends in a similar way. Last year, it was Andrew who needed the saving. Here, it is Jessi. Andrew's porn addiction crippled him. Him being saved didn't alter his trajectory or identity as a pervert though. In fact, this season only amplified that further and made sure he paid for it as well. And so, it's absolutely meaningful that Jessi is seduced by the Depression Kitty when she ends up in this alternate world where all of the magical creatures reside. A time table is quickly established that means that humans can't stay in this world for too long without dealing with the side effects. Right now, Jessi is depressed because of everything that has changed in her life. She feels responsible and that nothing she does can ever fix it. She is broken and doesn't know how to move forward. Connie has only contributed to the problem. And so, it only seems reasonable to push her away in favor of this new creature who seems to understand her. But that's what makes it so rewarding and rousing when Connie is the one who is able to break Jessi out and get her back home in time. Sure, the men take all of the credit like they always do. But this is primarily a story about Jessi and her admitting that she does have a problem that may need some professional help. She scoffs at the idea of seeing therapy. But seeing just how depressed she has become and her friends being surprised and concerned is enough for her to admit this could be the right thing for her. Elsewhere, it's just so amusing to see all of the hormone monsters in an office setting. They have always been imagined as these over-the-top characters with special abilities. They can retrieve items seemingly out of thin air. And now, they are presented at work with this seeming like nothing more than a 9-5 job where they gossip around the office and have boring meetings about the appropriate actions to take in any given situation. Nick goes on this journey hoping to get a new hormone monster. He has struggled with each one assigned to him for this entire season. Rick and Tyler only made him feel like something was wrong. He didn't know how to behave and it only contributed to his problems. He wants this hotshot monster named Gavin until he learns that he is such an aggressive monster who treats everyone terribly. Plus, the final punchline of Connie showing up to guide him through these changes is fantastic. She is already a character the audience knows and loves. So, her inserting herself into Nick and Jessi's lives moving forward is bound to keep being a lot of fun. Plus, it's fascinating to see what a female hormone monster being assigned to Nick means. It could mean absolutely nothing. These creatures can help anyone in the same way. But it's also just as telling that there is no one around to help Jay as he is figuring out his own sexual identity. He doesn't have a hormone monster telling him how to explore these feelings. So instead, he is just assigning gender roles to the couch cushions and pillows in his house. He takes pleasure from both which proves that he is open to all genders. He comes to this conclusion on his own as well which is just as empowering. Sure, it would have been intriguing to see a hormone monster's take on this situation. But it's also the show pointing out that sexuality has nothing to do with this situation and that the hormone monsters are just guiding everyone along on this journey dictated by the actions and attractions the kids in puberty have. That's actually pretty sweet and liberating.