Friday, October 4, 2019

REVIEW: 'Big Mouth' - Nick Obsesses Over His New Phone While Jay Tries to Define His Sexuality in 'Cellsea'

Netflix's Big Mouth - Episode 3.03 "Cellsea"

Nick is bewitched by his cool new phone. A call from "Pharmacy Boy" turns Matthew into a nervous wreck. Jay finds a Netflix show made just for him.

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.

"Cellsea" was written by Joe Wengert and directed by Bryan Francis

Ever since his kiss with Matthew, Jay has felt the pressure to define his sexuality. He is full of pent up frustration and anger because he believes that the rest of the world needs clarity and an answer right away. However, he is in middle school. He doesn't need to have everything figured out right now. Plus, sexuality isn't something easy to define. The show embraces it as a full spectrum now. There is a whole range of possibilities and Jay has the freedom to explore and understand them as well. He needs the freedom to figure out what he likes and how to best express that in the world. It is still a profound learning curve for him. He has always been an aggressive male in this show. That's the way his father has articulated how to be a man. It's a life full of animosity and the need to exert power and control at all times. Jay doesn't feel like he has control over his sexual orientation. He does though. He is the one going through this exploration. All it takes is finding the right people to help guide him through the process. Sure, that happens to be the ghosts in Nick's attic. In fact, the big musical number here feels like a sequel to the time in the first season when Andrew was also questioning his sexuality. For Jay though, he is allowed to see the full complexity of sexuality. He walks away with the understanding that he is a cisgender male who is also a polyamorous bisexual. That's the definition he chooses to embrace about himself and be boastful of to the world around him. Of course, there is no one around to hear that revelation from him. No one else was really putting on the pressure to truly understand who Jay is. It was all an internal debate. There is the sense that he will find love and support from his friends at school. His family may be a completely different story. But now, Jay can move forward in his life with some sense of clarity while also accepting that the situation may remain fluid and an ongoing journey. This is a vital story. One that also serves as a counterpart to Matthew's continuing drama. He has long been clear about his sexual orientation. He has known from a young age that he is gay. He is loved and accepted for it by his peers as well. However, that has also run the risk of being the sole thing that defined him. He doesn't want to be the only out kid at his school. And yet, that's the designation applied to him. It can be lonely and isolating. He feels an attraction to Aidan right away because he may present as the only viable option to have a chance at young love just like his friends. He wants that opportunity to express himself and grow. And yet, he lives in a household where his sexuality isn't discussed. As such, that places distance between him and his father. Jessi is there to help him navigate the awkwardness of his first interactions with Aidan. But things continue to develop in an encouraging way. That too is simple but meaningful. That's what provides so much power to this episode. Of course, all of this is also balanced against the show introducing a new story about the addiction the world now collectively feels about cell phones. It may even place some tension between Nick and Andrew. Nick reassures Andrew that he is still his best friend. He hasn't been replaced by his new phone, which is actually just Leah's old phone. And yet, Cellsea confirms that Nick was just telling Andrew what he wanted to hear. It's reasonable for Nick to have concerns about Andrew as a friend as well because of everything that has happened as of late. There shouldn't always be the understanding that things will remain the same with them. Friendships are constantly evolving. What used to be strong doesn't always stay that. Nick curls up in bed with his phone at the end of all of this. That's where his focus is at right now. It is an addiction. It just doesn't quite come across with the same nuance that other topics have had in the series so far. That may change. But it depends on how the show continues to tell this particular story and its universal appeal.