Big Mouth’s second season, launching on Netflix on October 5th, is far more depraved this year than its first season, its characters going down darker paths of sexual awakening. It’s a journey of self-discovery, one leading to some shame and heartbreak. But it does not lose its sense of self and humor along the way, providing a great, if a little flawed, second season.
Nick (Nick Kroll), Andrew (John Mulaney), Jessi (Jessi Klein), Missy (Jenny Slate), and Jay (Jason Mantzoukas) are back in the mess that is puberty. This time, they’re dealing with families falling apart, their own growth not quite measuring up to others, urges that cannot be avoided, and the shame those urges can surface. It’s a more adult season, with complicated emotions and tough choices to be made, but it still knows how to have fun when it needs to.
One big change is upping Coach Steve (also Kroll) to a main character. Before, he popped up in bits and pieces, adding some much-needed madness at the right moment; here, he’s as part of the main story as anybody else. His self-discovery and insertion into these kids’ lives may be grating for some, but his story and his lines became strangely poignant as the season progresses, as disturbing and worrying as they can be at times.
A major addition to the season is David Thewlis as the Shame Wizard. He is there for the deepest, darkest, most foul thoughts some of our characters have, hitting them at their most down moments and basking in their devastating embarrassment. Thewlis’ voice matches the character perfectly, his thespian roll of the tongue on certain words and grand enjoyment of their pain and suffering adding some comedy to some rather real moments.
The voice talent continues to be astronomically great. Kroll pulls off a good number of different characters, but his work as Lola, one of the classmates and a love interest this season, is so weird and hilarious that it’s one of the more interesting characters of the season. Klein does wonders as Jessi goes down a path of self-destruction this time, and she really sells the heartache her character is going through. Richard Kind as the voice of Andrew’s father continues to be a clear favorite for me, his absolute anger and disgust at his son and the world around him leading to some amazing moments.
The show does go down some odd paths this season. Its focus shifted a little more on things that can cause real damage to the psyche, and for that, the humor doesn’t land as well as it had previously. There are still hilarious moments of genius and a level of expertise, to be sure; however, it’s left a little stilted from time to time on jokes not quite hitting the same level as the season before or even a few moments before in the same episode. It’s a tonal shift, though only really affects individual scenes rather than the overall picture, which is still about having fun. This season also focuses on the cast as an ensemble, leaving some of its main characters punchlines or points to be made. But those points are important to their growing up and help define them a little more as they mature, and so while it may sound like a disappointment, it is welcome.
But this is not to say the show has lost its stride. Big Mouth still has a lot to say and says it incredibly well. It has moments of absolute insanity that can leave you wondering if you really saw that… and how they got away with it. It has moments of clever build-up that can leave you laughing for quite a while after, if you’re into this sort of humor. I still love this show, even if it doesn’t have the impact or the focus the first season provided. It’s still a wonderful show Netflix has on its hands and should keep fans very happy with more of this bizarre and riveting animated comedy.
Big Mouth returns on Netflix on October 5th. All ten episodes were provided for review.