Monday, October 7, 2019

REVIEW: 'Big Mouth' - The Kids Get Into Trouble By Ranking Each Other's Attractiveness in 'Rankings'

Netflix's Big Mouth - Episode 3.08 "Rankings"

As the friends feverishly swap lists of the hottest kids at school, newcomer Ali stokes the flames by announcing she's pansexual.

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.

"Rankings" was written by Kelly Galuska and directed by Joel Moser

Coming out is a brave and beautiful thing. It should also be a cause for celebration because a person is truly living as their authentic self. They are sharing it with the world so that they can be loved and accepted. It can be a difficult process for some though. Jay has grappled with his sexuality for awhile now. He had clarity about his bisexuality but couldn't quite talk about it with his friends and peers. He has a newfound confidence on the subject because of new student Ali who immediately proclaims that she is pansexual. Sure, that comes with the explanation as to what is the difference between pansexuality and bisexuality. That can be a rather blunt and rudimentary explanation as well that really labors to get the point across. However, that's sometimes the most effective way to get things to stick in these character's minds. They are obsessed with various details about a person instead of who they actually are. Nick still has a crush on Gina. He would still actively like to pursue that. However, most of the boys talk about her based on her body instead of her personality. That's truly sickening and proves just how disgusting it is for many of these characters to feel any kind of love in their lives. Sure, that is what they are continually chasing. This episode even suggests that it may be found even at their young age. It's absolutely ridiculous that Devin and DeVon are getting married. And yet, that's what DeVon believes he needs to do in order to keep Devin in his life. He doesn't want to let her go because of the objective fact that she is the hottest girl in school. Of course, the rankings that break out throughout this episode show that may not be true at all. Again, sexual preference is a nuanced and varied subject. What is beautiful and lovely to one person may not be true to another. Of course, this entire situation blows up into a huge scandal where everyone feels the pressure to be sexualized and seen as attractive amongst their peers. Lists can often be way too critical and irrelevant. It doesn't mean that someone is valued above someone else in society. It's mostly just an indication of public opinion at that specific moment in time. Ali is seen as attractive because she is the newcomer to the school who has this sexual confidence. Of course, there is a huge double standard when it comes to men being enticed by women who identity as pansexual and being uncomfortable by men with the same preference. Jay wants to feel confident and loved. However, his friends and peers worry that he is suddenly attracted to them. They make it weird. They struggle to see the beauty. Plus, there is a fair amount of biphobia in the world as well. Some believe it's just a pit stop on the way to fully coming out as gay. That's what Matthew suggests after he hears Jay's big news. And yet, bisexuality is a real thing. Ali accepts that. It means that she and Jay may form the deepest connection here. To others, Ali's pansexuality is just a way to constantly sexualize every interaction with her. She is a fully realized human being though. Sure, this may be an animated comedy where two middle schoolers get married. However, it's significant that Ali and Jay can support each other in this moment despite how gross and disgusting everyone can be at this celebration. It remains an awkward time for everyone because it seems like there is an unfair burden on all of these kids. That terrifies some while exciting for others. Again, every reaction is valid so long as it comes from a place of love. So often though, it comes from concern or fear of the unknown. That's tragic and needs to be addressed to ensure future behavior is better than the impulses felt at this specific age. Plus, these characters need to always remember that there is a human being on the other side of their attraction. It's not just a collection of attractive features as Andrew realizes here with Maury's Frankenstein creation.