Sunday, October 6, 2019

REVIEW: 'Big Mouth' - The Ghost of Duke Ellington Shares His Life Story with Nick, Andrew and Jay in 'Duke'

Netflix's Big Mouth - Episode 3.07 "Duke"

The ghost of Duke Ellington takes Nick and friends on a journey back in time to 1913: the year he lost his virginity and found his true calling.

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.

"Duke" was written by Gil Ozeri & Jak Knight and directed by Bryan Francis

Nick, Andrew and Jay desperately want to hear about how Duke Ellington lost his virginity. However, life isn't all about sex. To these teens going through puberty though, it's the only thing they can think about. It's what they need in their stories in order to be entertained. Life is so much more fulfilling than that though. Sure, Duke may have lost his virginity at 13 years old. However, that was also the year he discovered his greatest passion. That was the time when he understood what his life could be. Sure, it's a ridiculous adventure too. But it also gets to the true core of what a lifetime can be. This show has had a lot of fun playing with the various emotions humans feel at every stage of their lives. It's not just the hormone monsters at puberty either. Life is so much more complicated that than. It is filled with shame, depression and anxiety too. For Duke, he wants to equate his struggles with those who previously suffered through slavery. That is absolutely horrifying. However, that's his reaction as a teen trying to find his way in the world. In the scope of this story, he is the same age as the young boys he is now sharing this tale with. However, the ghost of Duke Ellington has the perspective to look back with all of the fondness and perspective to understand just how important one interaction can be. He had a very fulfilling and satisfying sexual life. There are plenty of options for the boys to place their bets on. However, that's not the story he is sharing. It's what Nick, Andrew and Jay are all expecting though. They are waiting eagerly for answers because that's the way they are enthralled with what's happening. Sure, it highlights just how immature and gross they are as well. In Andrew's case, he is a smug individual who deserves having some sense knocked into him from time to time. Of course, physical violence may not be the action that allows him to see the error of his ways. But he is stepping on Duke's toes as he is trying to tell his life story. Andrew is interrupting to offer his own comments and views on racism and jazz. It's not necessary. Him speaking up in that way shows that he is still a monster human being who truly doesn't understand the world around him. It's magical that Nick has a ghost living in the attic. The ghost of Duke Ellington can pass along all the lessons he has learned in life and death to these impressionable young minds. In fact, it seems like he is constantly having a blast as a ghost because he gets to hang out with Prince, Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston and Elizabeth Taylor. He had a solid life as well. Harriet Tubman was the ghost in his attic when he was a child. He didn't appreciate all that she could offer him either. She too saw him as a smug and pompous fool who didn't deserve anything that he was chasing. And yet, Duke still went on to accomplish many great things. That may prove that the future can still be bright for Nick, Andrew and Jay. They just have to realize that and find their own purpose. For Duke, this is a long story about how his classical upbringing clashed with the wonders of the early days of jazz. That's where he found his passion. He was so close to his parents. He was only able to discover himself after learning that his father was cheating on his mother. He was sent away to see the world. Atlantic City may have been a morally corrupt place to live. However, it opened his eyes to so much wonder and opportunity. Sure, he did lose his virginity along the way. The audience gets an answer in that regard when the boys are denied it. It's the girl he meets on the train. Andrew interrupting the story to discuss colorism was precisely when the details the boys wanted would have taken place. So instead, it's a story about the wondrous life Duke had. It flashes before his eyes once he figures jazz out for himself and immediately gets the praise he has long deserved. That is absolutely thrilling and captivating. It shows the joy and excitement that can come from life. It may not mean much to Nick, Andrew and Jay but it was absolutely life-changing to Duke. That's all that really matters. This is the journey that everyone is on. Duke was lucky and found his purpose early on. The characters of this show are still searching. That is just as rewarding too even though Duke knows that Nick won't be using any of this in his report for school.