Sunday, October 7, 2018

REVIEW: 'Big Mouth' - Nick and Andrew's Fight Leads to the Students Feeling Free in 'Smooch or Share'

Netflix's Big Mouth - Episode 2.09 "Smooch or Share"

Nick tries to lighten the mood at the sleepover with a new twist on Truth or Dare. The Shame Wizard meets his match. Jessi vows to change her ways.

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.

"Smooch or Share" was written by Alex Rubens and directed by Joel Moser

"Dark Side of the Boob" and "Smooch or Shame" are the first two-part story that Big Mouth has ever produced. There is a confidence on display because the show knows the audience can just move to the next episode right away. And yet, they both feel like distinct episodes as well even though they are both set during this school sleepover with the kids dealing with the Shame Wizard. In fact, the beginning of this episode asks if anyone actually saw the lunar eclipse which is what brought everyone together in the first place. Instead, the story is highlighting how everyone wants to be left alone and miserable. However, it also articulates that people actually have to be remorseful and willing to admit to their bad behavior in order to truly be forgiven. Both Nick and Jessi hurt Gina. And now, they both try to just say "I'm sorry" and move on to the next stage of their dynamics. Gina is absolutely right to hold them more accountable for their own actions. She is a strong and independent women who expects more from the world around her. Sure, it's awkward with Lola suddenly becoming her best friend because of the ways they were treated by Nick and Andrew. But even that serves as inspiration for Lola to stand up for herself and not take the constant bullying from Devin. However, the story also shows how it's much easier to just leave these relationships behind and move onto something else than deal with the real ramifications of one's actions. Instead of thinking about what he did, Nick instead comes up with a game in order to hopefully kiss someone new. He hopes it will be one of the new transfer students. Instead, it is Missy. That's an awkward moment because they have never been paired together in that way before. But this game mostly just builds to that confrontation where it isn't freeing to unburden one's secrets. Andrew believes it's cathartic to tell the truth to his friends because they feel just as disgusting in their bodies as he does. He finds acceptance and clarity from Missy. But he only gets contempt from Nick and more questions from his peers. The Hormone Monsters are escalating things to a point. But it's really the kids driving the story forward with their accusations against one another. They are attacking each other and possibly destroying their friendships. The Shame Wizard is actually distracted with a new mission. It's so fascinating to watch him be incapable of getting Coach Steve to feel shame. He is just too optimistic and oblivious to the world around him. He doesn't know how to feel bad. He just always sees every situation differently. As such, the Shame Wizard is devoting all of his time to Coach Steve. But that also allows the kids to band together with the realization that they have all been tormented by the same creature. It highlights that they do have the understanding that they are going through the same experiences and visited by the same creatures. It's because of that broad support that they vanquish the Shame Wizard. However, it also leads to them feeling confident with the various actions they were previously led to be ashamed about. And so, Nick is walking around with no pants on, Missy is masturbating on her sleeping bag and Jay is kissing Matthew. There is no stigma attached to these actions. It's freeing. And yet, this doesn't feel like a healthy quality either. The episode still ends with Jessi lashing out at Connie to the point of driving her away. She seems to be comforted by a new creature. One who is bound to have more consequences for her. That's a fascinating idea. It comes at a time where the kids feel more confident even though the world around them should still be rightfully horrified by how open they have become with their impulses.