Friday, February 8, 2019

REVIEW: 'Big Mouth' - Nick, Andrew and Their Friends Struggle with the Expectations of Valentine's Day in 'My Furry Valentine'

Netflix's Big Mouth - Episode 3.01 "My Furry Valentine"

Sappy cards. Stupid clichés. And so much pressure. For Andrew, Nick, Jessi and friends, Valentine's Day is a total freaking minefield.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Big Mouth.

"My Furry Valentine" was directed by Kim Arndt & Bob Suarez with story by Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett, Joe Wengert, Nick Kroll, Mark Levin & Kelly Galuska and teleplay by Emily Altman, Victor Quinaz, Gil Ozeri & Jaboukie Young-White

This Valentine's Day special from Big Mouth is simply a lot of fun. It's longer than the average episode of the show. Plus, there are some elements that make it appear as the premiere for the next season - debuting sometime in the fall. However, there are also some truly inspired bits that make it all about this specific holiday and the impact it has on all of the characters while they're going through their various changes. The teens sitting down with their hormone monsters in testimonials is just a fantastic running joke throughout this special. It's great because it establishes that they do truly love each other. Maury is proud to be working with Andrew and Matthew. They can reminisce about the good times they've had. Meanwhile, Connie is happy to be paired with Jessi and Nick. Sure, there is a lot of tension between her and Nick over the course of this episode simply because she has never guided a boy through puberty before. However, they both walk away with an appreciation of each other and a genuine interest in maintaining this relationship. The second season saw Nick deal with some horrible hormone monsters. None of them worked for him. Of course, one can also argue that Connie and Maury aren't all that helpful with the respective kids they coach either. However, there remains the ability for them to understand what the kids are going through and can connect with them on that deep emotional level. Plus, they aren't behind every awful decision that people like Andrew and Jessi make. This episode presents Andrew as reaching absolutely horrifying levels of toxic masculinity. That is bound to leave quite a mark that should linger when the show comes back with more episodes. He believes he is entitled to be with Missy simply because he knows that she still has a crush on him. She didn't tell him that. He learned it by spying on her personal information. That's an invasion of privacy. And now, he believes he doesn't have to put in any of the work in order to maintain this relationship and make it healthy for both of them. The second season presented his fears of him being weak and attracted to women who remind him of his father. That was the driving impulse behind his connection with Lola. But now, that fear can no longer be hypothetical. Now, he is the one who has morphed into his father. It's awful. Andrew sees this kind of behavior at home with his mother during nothing to change it. That makes him proud to point out just how right he feels in any given situation. However, he is wrong with every single decision he makes here. Maury doesn't encourage the idea that Lars doesn't actually need the wheelchair. But that's just an idea that Andrew holds onto until it festers into a moment that proves just how unwelcome he is in this social circle. That's shocking and proves that Andrew is still spiraling.

But again, it remains a difficult time for all of the characters. There are many expectations of showing one's love when it comes to Valentine's Day. Devin expects to be devastated by the surprise DeVon gives to her. As such, he is essentially backed into a corner where he feels the need to propose even though that is simply outrageous. They are still essentially children after all even though DeVon may still be an old man in disguise. That may only make this situation worse though. Elsewhere, the adult couples are all expecting a night out with a fancy meal as well as loving and passionate sex afterwards. That's the way that they are choosing to express their love. But all of this can be triggering and depressing to those in the world who don't feel this connection right now. Sure, Jessi is able to see her mom's relationship with Cantor Dina in a new light thanks to Matthew. That helps her overcome her insecurities. Plus, Matthew may pick up a new love interest here as well. This episode makes a significant investment in Matthew as a character. It establishes that Maury is his hormone monster as well. He is just as skilled at helping Matthew make sense of the world as Andrew. Matthew may portray a lot of confidence but he's still awkward and naive as well. But it's still sweet when he bumps into another guy in the card aisle of Walgreens. That's also where the characters find Coach Steve after he has been fired from the school. In fact, that's just a great setting in general even though the show has a lot of fun at the expense of that store. The joke about oedipal arrangements is especially wonderful and truly twisted. Meanwhile, Jay is mostly by himself in his own little story. However, that is still just as important because it explores him also coming to terms with his sexual identity. The show obviously likes to have a lot of silly fun by bring various objects to life. It's a show with hormone monsters, the ghosts of celebrities and talking pubic hair. However, it's also clear that Jay is projecting personalities onto pillows and coach cushions as a way to deflect from these personal feelings. It's not something that he can keep up forever. It quickly wears him out. And that may mean that he needs to actually address what he is feeling instead of just trying to avoid talking about it. But again, the show simply has a lot of fun while juggling all of these stories. It finds the time to produce three musical numbers here as well. That's always a welcome development with this show.