Saturday, October 6, 2018

REVIEW: 'Big Mouth' - Sex Ed Class Takes a Very Imaginative Turn for the Students in 'The Planned Parenthood Show'

Netflix's Big Mouth - Episode 2.05 "The Planned Parenthood Show"

An argument in sex ed class turns into a skit-tastic journey through the worlds of Planned Parenthood, contraceptives and STDs.

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 Planned Parenthood Show" was written by Emily Altman and directed by Bryan Francis

This season absolutely gave the audience a reason to be concerned about the sexual education of its young characters. Coach Steve was the sex ed teacher. That was absolutely horrifying because he knows nothing about sex. And now, he sees himself as an expert because he has done it once. That's simply not true at all. There is so much more about sex than the act itself. Adults have to be very aware of numerous things in order to have a happy and healthy sex life. Coach Steve isn't the best person to talk the students through all of that. And yet, that too has always been a bitting commentary on the style and substance of sexual education programs across the United States. There is no consistency and frequently the person teaching the class doesn't always offer the best perspective of things. And yet, this is information that absolutely needs to be known by these students as they continue to develop. Schools can't just pretend that sex doesn't exist. However, there are many out there who believe just that. That's what makes it so invigorating and compelling when the preteens here are already well-informed about many of the nuances of sex. Sure, it's the show absolutely playing things for the viewer instead of offering consistency in many of its season-long stories. But that's absolutely fine as well. It dedicates this episode to educating everyone involved because it's important information to have. Sure, the show is also being very meta in preparing for the outcry from the far right being so offended by everything that is discussed in this episode especially as it pertains to Planned Parenthood. But the show completely embraces that as well. It even presents commentary for it being nothing more than the liberal agenda. It's also just great that this conversation can occur in the first place. Sure, it's weird how it is ultimately all presented as an episode of Saturday Night Live. That veteran sketch comedy show would never have the guts to produce an episode like this. They wouldn't even stage any of the sketches that mean so much to the young ensemble. But it's the reference point that many of the creative auspices of the show know because they have a background with that series. It still allows things to break down very easily with multiple segments being used to inform everyone about a very specific issue when it comes to one's sexual health.

Some of these sketches are complete fantasy that will have no impact on the characters' lives at all moving forward. It's the show just presenting things in a fantastical way in order to paint a compelling portrait of a divisive issue that really shouldn't be all that divisive at all. And so, it's a lot of fun when Missy presents her story as a riff on Star Wars. She is leading a rebellion ship trying to offer medical procedures for female health. It's so important because women produce the eggs that can create human life. They should be treated with respect and the utmost care. Women should have access to exams to understand if there is anything wrong with their reproductive organs. But that is presented as a radical act. One that leads to a chase through the fallopian tubes. Even in the end, the men who wish to oppress women in this alien society only see the error of their ways because of how it many impact the future men of their species. That's horrible and yet so true to life as well. Similarly, Andrew's story isn't based in reality at all. It just articulates the fear that comes from contracting a STD. It's all shown through a horror movie premise. Andrew sees Blue Waffle as this disease that can quickly spread and infect everyone in his life simply by touching him. He sees himself as a monster for contracting it. A monster that must be killed. It's so horrifying to see how quick people are to pick up guns or chainsaws. Maury even uses his spare dicks as weapons to save Andrew. But it's all building to the conclusion that it's okay to be afraid of these diseases while also feeling safe that there is a place that offers services that can heal them. It too is presented as a savior that men should embrace. But that is still perceived as a completely radical act.

And finally, there are the sketches that seem based in reality. When Matthew presents a take on The Bachelor to represent the birth control choices out there for women, it's an actual decision that Leah has to make. She meets all of her potential suitors and gets to know them over an initial gathering. But at the end of the night, she has to make a decision because this is an important time in her life. It's daunting and scary. Some options seem more manageable than others. Some seem incredibly popular too. Leah isn't going to get a diaphragm. That's no longer a solid option. It's just one that needs to be mentioned to highlight the history of contraceptions. Even when Leah is well-informed, she still makes a dangerous decision because she's still a teenager after all. And that shows how parents can ultimately control this portion of a person's sex life. But men have to be just as responsible. They can't just assume that the woman has taken care of things before sex occurs. He needs to be a part of the conversation and decision-making process as well. That aspect of the story is shared through Elliot getting a vasectomy. He is doing so for his loving wife. She no longer wants to be worrying about birth control nor does she want to have another baby. So, this is a very conscious decision that a man can make that is actually quite easy to do. Sure, the show presents it as terrifying because a lobster is cutting up Elliot's sexual organs. But it's ultimately the right solution for the situation. The same is also true for the peek into Barbara's life before she met Marty and had Andrew. It's shared completely through visuals and the musical choice of Deee-Lite's "Groove Is In The Heart." She was a young woman with an active sex life. She got pregnant and made the decision to get an abortion because she wasn't ready for that responsibility. It's a completely normal and sane decision for her to make. She gets nothing but support from the staff at Planned Parenthood. And then, it all builds to the joke of her coming home from her abortion and getting into an accident with Marty. That's how they met. It shows that she was willing to make that commitment. It just took a little more time for her to feel ready. She's perfectly happy and content with the decision she made even though it terrifies Andrew to think that his mother did this before he was even born. But that too needs to be perfectly normal and accepted. This episode presents stories of women making the right choices for their bodies and it being perfectly fine no matter which choice they make. There just needs to be the education in place for them to make a well-informed decision which this episode showcases in some phenomenal ways.