Let me start this off by saying that Big Mouth is my favorite show on the air today. And I only say this because I'm about to make an extremely nitpicky gripe, but it's to explain why I loved Big Mouth Season 4 so much.
You might be wondering, "Big Mouth? You mean that animated Netflix show with the gross sex jokes? It's okay, I guess." Or maybe you're thinking, "Shut up, Big Mouth is perfect." Either way, you're probably right. Big Mouth isn't for everybody, but for a certain type of person, it's perfection. However, as someone who loved Season 1, and was absolutely floored by Season 2, Season 3 was kind of a letdown.
The first two seasons of Big Mouth told a cohesive story that built to a powerful climax centered around the “Shame Monster” — despite a few small detours along the way. But in Season 3, the show experimented with an episodic structure that was mostly a step-down in quality. Even after rewatching the entire series last month, I'm still hard-pressed to remember the plot of Season 3 — but I loved the Duke Ellington episode!
Thankfully, Season 4 manages to deliver the best of both worlds in a way South Park never has. Warning! Light spoilers for Big Mouth Season 4 ahead.
Big Mouth Season 4 is essentially split into three sections. The first three episodes take place at a summer camp, which provides a nice change of scenery while also introducing new characters. (There’s a socks-and-sandals camp counselor played by John Oliver, a camper voiced by Seth Rogen, and a new imaginary creature named Tito the Anxiety Mosquito.)
Eventually, summer ends and the kids return to school, with Tito following close behind. The next few episodes feel like classic Big Mouth as they explore the characters’ continued puberty in painful and hilarious ways — from confusion around “hand stuff” to one character’s decision to come out as gay to his militant father.
Big Mouth Season 4 also features a handful of high-concept episodes, but unlike in Season 3 where that became the baseline, they’re less frequent and more well-earned here. One episode set in a dystopian future sets our protagonist, Nick, on a path towards redemption in the finale. Another Halloween-themed entry parodies recent classics like Us and Russian Doll while advancing each characters’ individual story and teeing up a pivotal change behind the scenes.
Ultimately, Big Mouth Season 4 isn’t quite the show at the height of its powers (Season 2 still reigns supreme), but it’s a clear signal that Nick Kroll and his co-stars and co-creators still have a clear sense of what makes the series great. And while setting the entire season at summer camp could have elevated the story even further (a conversation between Kroll and Seth Rogen makes it clear there's plenty more to mine there), I'm still happy with the Season 4 we got
With Big Mouth already renewed through Season 6 on Netflix — plus a Hormone Monster-focused spinoff in the works — that should come as a relief to anyone who watched Season 3 and wondered whether the cartoon had already lost its way.
Big Mouth is streaming now on Netflix.