As with a lot of Netflix originals, like ‘Orange Is The New Black’, ‘Glow’ and ‘Stranger Things’, animated comedy ‘Big Mouth’ introduced us to a plethora of unusual characters when it began streaming last year.
It’s probably fair to say, though, that the inhabitants of the ‘Big Mouth’ world are some of the streaming service’s most weird and wonderful ever, with a grotesque Hormone Monster (and his female counterpart, the Hormone Monstress), the ghost of a real-life jazz pioneer and a plate of anthropomorphic expired scallops all among the cast of characters.
Unfortunately, the vast array of characters means that not everyone gets the chance to shine, so we’ve compiled this list of our 10 favourite unsung heroes of one of Netflix’s most unsung shows...
10. Andrew’s parents
Basically the antithesis of Nick’s warm and loving family, Andrew’s dad is grouchy (“I think three… yeah, I like three people”), socially inept and not above ruining a perfectly good suit if it means getting his hands on some scallops (“don’t forget my shoes, they were like the spill tray”).
Still, the Gloubermans have made the list because we’re guaranteed a laugh whenever they’re on screen (“you’re winking… is it not compelling?”), and we love their romantic(-ish) moment at the end of the ‘Rock Of Gibraltar’ episode.
9. Leah Birch
A lot of the names on this list have made it here with a pinch of irony, either because they give us a laugh at their expense or simply because of their ridiculousness.
But Nick’s sister Leah is actually one of the most genuinely sympathetic characters in the show. She’s progressive, she’s wise and she’s unafraid to call out men’s unacceptable behaviour, plus she’s voiced by the fantastic Kat Dennings and knows her way around a sarong. What’s not to love?
8. TV’s Nathan Fillion (in dog form)
Speaking of people who’ve made the list based solely on ridiculousness… the series one episode ‘Sleepover: A Harrowing Ordeal’ has a fair few moments that are genuinely uncomfortable, so we’re grateful that the running gag about Missi’s love of a dog that looks like, in her words, “TV’s Nathan Fillion” is there for some comic relief.
And fair play to the real-life “TV’s Nathan Fillion” for providing the character’s actual voice.
7. Kevin, the dolphoodle
“Kevin eats fingers, he thinks they’re baby corn.”
Genuinely, we have nothing more to say other than that.
6. Jessi’s genitals
Unquestionably the most famous scene in the first series of ‘Big Mouth’ comes when Jessi has an actual conversation with her genitals at the end of the episode ‘Girls Get Horny Too’, talking her through her own body as she takes a never-before-seen look at herself.
Of course, the choice to include an uncensored image of the teenage character’s genitals (even in anthropomorphic animated form) proved too much for some critics, who felt it was an unnecessary addition, though ‘Big Mouth’ fans have taken an alternative views.
On the show’s Reddit page, many have pointed out that while we’re constantly bombarded with phallic imagery that no one has a problem with, the choice to include an animated vulva in a non-sexual and informative context is actually pretty progressive.
More than that, it’s also a way for the character to learn that her own genitals are non-threatening and not something she should be afraid or ashamed of.
Oh, and we just love Kristen Wiig’s chatty and enthusiastic voice acting in the scene, too.
5. The pillow
Yes, another of the show’s more surreal elements. We learn about Jay’s *ahem* enthusiasm for his pillow fairly early on in the series, but in episode six, there’s an entire subplot where she comes to life, gets pregnant, and eventually leaves Jay, with their son, so the teen magician can pursue his dreams alone.
It is, as it sounds, completely stupid, but we love what Kristen Bell does with this bizarre role, regardless.
4. Nick’s mother
Arguably the show’s moral compass, Dianne is always at hand to dole out advice and guidance to her kids, but particularly Nick, as he stands at the turning point, about to enter puberty (or, at least, so he hopes).
Above that, she’s also a great friend (she’s the one who turns Andrew’s mother onto ‘The Rock Of Gibraltar’, lest we forget), and takes good care of Nick’s pals Andrew, Jessi and Jay, as well as her own family. An all-round lovely woman, who we’re excited to see more from in season teo.
3. The Hormone Monstress
The only reason the Hormone Monstress doesn’t top this list is because she already steals every scene she’s in. What we particularly love about the Hormone Monstress is that until her entrance, it looks as though it’s her male counterpart that rules the roost in the ‘Big Mouth’ world, but as we learn more about their relationship, it becomes swiftly apparent that she’s the one calling the shots between the two of them.
We also love her speech at Jessi’s bat mitzvah: “That’s what women do. We suck up all the bullshit that the world dumps on it and keep smiling through it all. In our boxy ass dresses.”
If there’s one character that’s criminally underused in season one of ‘Big Mouth’, it’s Matthew. Voiced by Andrew Rannells (who you might know from ‘Girls’, ‘The New Normal’ or the ‘Book Of Mormon’ soundtrack), Matthew is always waiting in the sidelines with a cutting remark about what’s going on, and loves nothing more than sharing everybody else’s business in his middle school’s daily announcements.
Even when he’s hitting below the belt (his remarks to poor old Coach Steve in particular are no-punches-pulled), we can’t help but smirk whenever he’s on screen. All this, and he serves looks. We’re praying Matthew gets his own story arc in season two, and if not, that he’ll still be there to take everyone down a peg.
1. The ghost of Duke Ellington
When the season two trailer debuted earlier this month, we were horrified to see that the ghost of Duke Ellington was nowhere to be seen. His presence was one of our favourite things about the show’s original run, from his outlandish allegations about stars like Eva Gabor and Stevie Wonder to his nonsequitous outbursts (“‘oh my god poor Andrew’? That sounds like a good song! Except I’m gonna change ‘oh my god’ to ‘hey now’ and ‘poor Andrew’ to ‘sweet Desiree’”).
We’re hoping his omission from the trailer was merely an oversight, and we’ll soon be hearing the voice of Jordan “Recent Oscar Winner” Peele doling out more advice in the attic in the next series.
‘Big Mouth’ series two begins streaming on Netflix on Friday 5 October.