Review: Netflix's Big Mouth Makes Coming of Age Even More Awkward

The world of adult cartoons is an interesting one. Often, the most recognizable of these are Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy or conservative offshoot American Dad. But the rabbit hole goes much, much deeper. The last couple years have heralded the reigning king of adult cartoons as Adult Swim’s mega-hit Rick and Morty. Fans of the show convene online to compare notes on the highly nihilistic series while critics mainly take issue with the series’s fans rather than the on-screen content.

While other cartoons dot the landscape and carry a decent amount of followers (e.g. BoJack Horseman, Archer, Futurama), the newest series gaining a bit of a following is Netflix’s original Big Mouth. In a nutshell, Big Mouth follows a group of plucky middle schoolers as they face the “wonders and horrors of puberty.” Though, to be honest, it’s much more an exploration of the horrors than the wonders.

The description may lead some to think this would be a good show for the youngs—what better way to help them navigate the elephant trap of puberty than a show about that exact issue? But this is NOT for children. Created by Nick Kroll, Jennifer Flackett, Andrew Goldberg and Mark Levin, the series has been described by critics as “a perverted Wonder Years” for its raunchy, often offensive humor about pubescent teens figuring out how to flirt, kiss, embark on dating and new relationships or just attempting to track the changes in their bodies (deodorant, anyone?).

The oddball series features an all-star comedy cast with the likes of Nick Kroll, Maya Rudolph, John Mulaney, Fred Armisen, Andrew Rannells, Jenny Slate and Jordan Peele as both regulars and one-off characters. The cast shines with the crude material and crass language that would easily earn it an NC-17 rating in theaters. Perhaps even better is the show’s self-awareness of the streaming platform it’s on and the ability of cartoons to get away with scenarios its live-action counterparts wouldn’t be allowed to even pitch. Characters break the fourth wall, addressing the audience directly, and the series closes out by taking a jab at the inappropriateness of the 10 episodes of subject matter you’ve just watched.

Ultimately, the series is a hoot, but it is absolutely a niche form of a comedy not for the faint of heart. If you’re a fan of other adult cartoons, you’ll likely enjoy the awkwardness and incessant body humor throughout the series. However, if you know yourself well enough and haven’t enjoyed any adult cartoons up until this point, maybe just watch A Christmas Prince instead.

Ashley Szanter is the associate editor of Salt Lake magazine and co-hosts the UniversiTV podcast and Facebook page.


Ashley Szanter
Ashley Szanter
Ashley Szanter is a contributing writer for Salt Lake magazine as well as a freelance writer and editor. She loves writing about everything Utah, but has a special interest in Northern Utah (here's looking at you, Ogden and Logan).

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