Monday, December 7, 2020

REVIEW: 'Big Mouth' - A Trip to the City Puts Jessi and Nick at Odds with Connie Caught in the Middle in 'A Very Special 9/11 Episode'

Netflix's Big Mouth - Episode 4.05 "A Very Special 9/11 Episode"

On a trip to the 9/11 museum, Nick and Andrew sneak off to meet Jessi. Devon teaches Missy about code-switching. Coach Steve gets a rude surprise.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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.

"A Very Special 9/11 Episode" was written by Jak Knight and directed by Bryan Francis

9/11 is a historic event that people are tentative to try finding something comedic within it. It was a national tragedy. One that deserves a nation to mourn and show respect at the memorial. However, this show is brave because it knows that these kids in puberty wouldn't treat anything with the reverence it obviously deserves. Moreover, the show isn't afraid to push the boundaries of acceptable humor. It's very effective as a result too. Sure, it is deeply twisted. It walks the line of what is comedy and what is offensive bullying. That is perfectly displayed in Matthew and Coach Steve's little story. Matthew instinctively enjoys messing with people. When he realizes that someone is oblivious about something, he will tease and torture them. It's amusing to him. He doesn't think he has to act any differently simply because of the tragedy of it all. Of course, it's also impossible to make Coach Steve come across as an unhinged lunatic who believes 9/11 was an inside job. And in the end, Matthew does find a way to uplift Coach Steve's spirit even though he is depressed upon realizing what happened on this day twenty years ago. People who were born on this day shouldn't allow it to prevent them from celebrating. That news should be uplifting too. Sure, it's awkward when the "Happy Birthday" song is interrupted by Lola wanting to question the very nature of the 9/11 terrorism. In fact, the reveal that her mom was dating one of the hijackers is one of the most twisted jokes the show has ever done. It's completely unafraid too. It is daring and confident in that regard. It also shows how people removed from this event have much less of a personal connection to it. These kids weren't born when this happened. As such, they argue that they don't have to pay any respect to those who lost their lives. It's absolutely the wrong feeling they should have at the moment. But they are fundamentally selfish and cruel. They won't change their behavior simply because a teacher asks them to during a field trip. They will do whatever they want. They don't think about the consequences. They don't worry about how their actions will come across. They are devoted to their own little worlds. Of course, they also have profound conversations. They are aware of how their identities are seen by the world at large. They aren't oblivious to the very nature of the world they live in. They don't always have the proper tools to have an eloquent and meaningful conversation on the subjects. The show gets around that through its fanciful nature and the desire to be gross and irreverent all the time. That never dampens the serious emotions of the piece either. It's absolutely devastating when Connie realizes she has to stop being Nick's hormone monster. She is more than just the creature who is horny all the time and inspires all of these thoughts in the kids she watches over. She is also presented as the guardian protecting kids from the other creatures who lurk around and are ready to pounce. Michael may not be a good influence for Jessi at all. However, it has prevented the Depression Kitty and Tito from controlling her outlook on life. Of course, the hormone monsters don't have all the answers either. Maury clearly sees that Nick has a crush on Jessi. As such, he refuses to fall under Michael's spell. Andrew and Jessi are distracted. Nick may see things more clearly. He still says heinous things to both Jessi and Connie. He is cruel in that regard. These kids don't know how to properly communicate with one another. It always plays out in extreme terms. The hormone monsters encourage that. But again, it's all forced as a choice where Connie has to be on either Jessi or Nick's side in this argument. They have polar opposite views. She wants to be a cheerleader for both. She just doesn't understand how to be that. As such, she chooses Jessi. She understands that she needs her guidance more. It also means Nick is once again without a hormone monster. That has been his plight through so much of the series. That means he lashes out and speaks ill of Connie's hair. He means it as well. He is upset. This is a challenging time in everyone's lives. They are seeing the world in different ways. Missy is exploring a new part of her identity. Devon helps her on that journey because he is the only other kid at school who knows what it's like. It's exhausting to have to present as non-threatening to whomever Black people interact with at any moment. It's not something they should have to deal with. But it also protects them as well. Having this conversation allows Missy to feel more confident with her expression of Black culture. Devin doesn't get to tell her how to be. She is full of spite and disparaging comments. She only cares about herself and the perception of being married to the most popular guy at school. Meanwhile, Missy and Devon get to develop a friendship that seems deeper. Mona may pressure Missy to make it more. However, it's perfect as it is right now. Friends should encourage each other to have these honest conversations about what they stand for. That happens all too infrequently in this world. The fear of rejection and public humiliation is simply too high. That's amplified through Tito's presence. That anxiety can cripple the desire to reach out to better understand. And yet, it's not stopping Missy from speaking her mind as she further educates herself and pushes back against anyone who says she is doing things the wrong way.