Tuesday, December 8, 2020

REVIEW: 'Big Mouth' - Intimate Conversations Reveal the True Depths of Several Relationships in 'Four Stories About Hand Stuff'

Netflix's Big Mouth - Episode 4.07 "Four Stories About Hand Stuff"

The kids at Bridgeton Middle explore enthusiastic consent, feminine pleasure, coercion and more in four short films.

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.

"Four Stories About Hand Stuff" was written by Mitra Jouhari & Brandon Kyle Goodman and directed by Andres Salaff

Lola's mind is literally blown when someone suggests that it's Jay's job to pleasure her and not the other way around. She never thought about physical intimacy in that way. As the characters are maturing, they feel the pressure to become more physical with their partners. They believe it's something they should be doing in order to advance their relationships. It seemingly all revolves around Devon and Devin getting a divorce because of her refusal to give him a hand job. It's clear to the audience that they had so many other problems. That was never really the issue. Of course, it's easy to prop that up as the only mistake that happened in this union. It allows them to live in denial about everything else that was wrong. It also forces conversations to happen about what each of these kids want as sexual beings. Nick doesn't really masturbate. He doesn't have an established routine like Andrew does. He has never had a consistent hormone monster either. Instead, his life has been plagued more by the other creatures who pop up to wreck havoc on his emotions. Jessi suffers in a similar way. With Andrew, it's all about his own physical pleasure. He will do it no matter what because it feels good to him. It doesn't matter that Nick is still in the room. He will go through the routine because it's so fanciful and brings him pleasure. He doesn't care how it could make his best friend feel uncomfortable. That makes it troubling when he is encouraged to jerk off whenever he gets the urge. That is not the lesson he should be learning at this moment. He may take it to heart given his grandfather dies the moment he tries to be more spontaneous with his routine. And yet, the narrative still infers some troubling behavior in his psyche that could easily create problems later on. He is possessive. He obsesses over details as well. That makes him lash out when things don't go his way. He doesn't have a satisfying ending amongst the four stories here. That's because of how he is acting. But this form of expression can have complicated reactions amongst a group of people as well. It's necessary for Jay to actually talk and listen to Lola about what she needs when he fingers her. He shouldn't just listen to the advice his brothers give him. He may have seen that conversation as sibling bonding. However, it doesn't build on the connection he already has with Lola. She knows what she likes. When she guides him on the journey, it's successful. That's how an encounter like this should work. It's terrifying for a moment because Jay doesn't want to admit he doesn't know what he's doing. However, Lola is more than willing to help him along the way. They both want this. It's pleasurable to both of them. And yet, others all too frequently feel the pressure to take these actions even when they don't feel comfortable with them just yet. Matthew believes he has to embrace sex fully to honor the sacrifices made by activists over the years to give him the privileges he now has as a gay man. Him doing so is a celebration for all they fought for. It's also just as valid and empowering for him to wait. That freedom is also afforded to him. He and Aidan simply have to be honest instead of expecting something to happen. Of course, Matthew has these conversations while also lying to his mother. She freaks out the moment she stumbles upon his secret which seems likely to alter the relationship they have with each other. It could strengthen it. But it's also them needing to have a conversation that they've ignored having for years even though Matthew's sexuality is so open everywhere else in his life. And finally, Michael preys on Jessi's naivety in pursuit of his own pleasure. He is a predator who doesn't particularly care what she wants. She is startled by the whole notion. She too believes it's something she has to do. It's what he needs and she needs to keep him happy to force the depression away. When it doesn't work out, she spirals in that way once more. That too is devastating because it shows just how alone and terrified she remains in this world. She could open up to her mother. And yet, that would only invite more fear of criticism because of the foolish actions she has taken lately. She doesn't want to disappoint. And so, she is quiet. She doesn't engage. It's all because of a selfish boy. That does real damage though. Some aspects of the storytelling are incredibly silly. And yet, the show still gets to the heart of these emotions and just how difficult they are to navigate regardless of how old anyone is. Depression and anxiety can strike at any moment. Meanwhile, the behavior learned at this moment can have a profound impact on who these children grow up to be. As such, their journeys of self-discovery need to be respected. However, they should also be held accountable in regards of consent to ensure that everyone's safety and well-being is protected.