'Big Mouth' Season 3 abandons reality to become the best cartoon on TV

Season 3 feels less serialized in the best way possible.

What other show could depict a middle-schooler copulating with a turkey in the season premiere and deliver a nuanced indictment of toxic masculinity in the same 30-minute episode? Big Mouth is back, and it’s never been better. In fact, Season 3 proves that Big Mouth is the best and most important animated series around right now as it continues to serve up valuable truths about the human experience, sexuality, friendship, and so much more in ways most of us could never imagine.

The closest contender for best cartoon of the moment is likely another Netflix original, Bojack Horseman, which retains a loyal following going into its sixth and final season, starting later this year, and while Rick and Morty is the biggest comedy series on TV right now, Big Mouth feels, at the very least, so much more important in the way it can make anyone feel safe and normal in their own skin. Bojack and Rick and Morty offer entertaining commentary on the human condition in their own zany ways, but Big Mouth can help anyone navigate through the awkwardness of puberty — and the rest of life.

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Nick gets too close to his phone.

Season 2 focused on the Shame Wizard and explained hormone monster lore in a finale that went to “The Department of Puberty,”. It featured a serialized, overarching plot that didn’t always land very well when Big Mouth took itself too seriously and literally. Season 3 is more scattered and frenetic, but also more entertaining.

It takes a few more liberties to explore deeper truths of the human condition at the expense of literal truth. Musical numbers still abound, as do surreal game shows about exploring the human body. It’s usually easy to tell when things slip into that illusory magical world, but the boundaries are less clear in Season 3, and that makes the experience even more thrilling.

Big Mouth Season 3 also wonders: Just because something is a figment of the imagination, does that make it any less real? Life is scattered, chaotic, and weird, and so is Big Mouth at its best, diving into the realm of insane allegory to explore deeper truths of the human condition. You just can’t take things literally or seriously.

At the end of one episode, a sink hole swallows half the state of Florida, but this doesn’t actually happen. It’s for dramatic and comedic effect, and in a moment of meta-commentary, the characters call out how it’s a metaphor for Andrew’s punishment for his bad deeds. Big Mouth gets better in its third season at blurring the line between imagination and reality, and it does so in ways that continue to surprise. We even get a delightful bottle episode recounting Duke Ellington’s youth.

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Duke Ellington finally gets his moment in Season 3.

As Nick, Andrew, and Jay obsess over who Duke lost his virginity to, Duke (Jordan Peele) tells a story about finding yourself at a confusing time in your life, how authenticity arises out of unique hardships, how we lose ourselves trying to be somebody in a way that makes us forget who we actually are. But that complex journey is ultimately how we find our own unique truth. Big Mouth is hilarious and crude, delivering constant laugh-out-loud jokes, but the poignant analysis of the human condition is nothing short of brilliant.

Big Mouth has always felt like it should be essential viewing for everyone, whether they’re going through puberty or barely remember that harrowing experience. Yes, I do think even teenagers should watch this. They’re already watching shows like Rick and Morty anyway, but at least here they can learn a lot about life and what their bodies are going through.

The way Big Mouth dramatizes hormones, sexuality and teenage friendship is so over the top that it winds up intensely realistic — even when we get yet another new mythic monster to demonstrate a crucial period of human development. There’s also a brand new hormone monster as Missy comes into her own.

Season 3 bravely tackles a specific conceit or topical issue each episode, feeling a bit like early Master of None that had episodes focusing on parents, immigration, or toxic masculinity. Big Mouth Season 3 thrives by taking a similar “topic of the week” approach. There’s Adderall abuse, dick pics, cell phone addiction, the spectrum of sexuality, and toxic masculinity. There’s also new monsters, a hilariously mean love letter to Florida, a musical episodes, and even a few superpowers that somehow come into the mix. Plus, a bonafide Queer Eye crossover that’s as great as you might imagine.

For *Big Mouth, nothing seems off limits, and even when the Netflix show goes beyond the scope of your imagination, it remains grounded in a brilliant, relatable way that makes it essential viewing for everyone.


Big Mouth Season 3 will be released on Netflix October 4.