'Big Mouth' Season 4 Review: Not even the Anxiety Mosquito can help a season that seems to be phoning it in
This season, the balance between the soap opera-esque plot, important discussions, humor and grossness is lost
Spoilers for 'Big Mouth' Season 4
Is it possible for a show to both feel like it's going through the motions while still keeping up its production value? 'Big Mouth' is back for its fourth season, and it's got just as many gags, quick musical numbers, entertaining voice actors and some very relatable new monsters. It ought to be just as enjoyable as Seasons 1, 2 and 3, but while Season 4 feels like it has as much energy as ever, it really seems like they phoned it in.
It starts out pretty bad, with a three-episode summer camp arc where every joke is trying to outdo the last one in terms of how gross they can be. 'Big Mouth' has always gone further than most shows in terms of grossness, especially considering the subject matter, but up until now, the series has always just about managed to balance it out with relevant story beats. 'Big Mouth' has been an important show for how well it tackles uncomfortable issues people don't like talking about - but Season 4 appears to be just trying for uncomfortable.
That's not to say that there aren't attempts. Ayo Edebiri doesn't miss a tick as the voice of Missy, and the show tries to make up for previously casting a white woman for Missy's role by having Missy explore her identity as a Black girl this season. There are some good parts to that arc, especially one particularly informed song about code-switching, but it does feel like there are a lot of excrement jokes that could have been removed to make more room for Missy's journey. Similarly, a new trans kid is introduced in the camp arc, and she's gone before she ever really has a chance to make an impact on the show. The balance is gone. There's more focus on the kids' soap opera and the humor than there is on the messaging that made 'Big Mouth' stand out from other shows of its kind.
The new monsters are great – Maria Bamford's Tito the Anxiety Mosquito has a delightful comedic range as she buzzes worries through people's ears, teaming up with the Depression Cat and Zach Galifianakis's Gratitoad, she's is a welcome breath of fresh air as the show's first purely positive creature. There are a lot of great ideas and important messages running through the season, it's just that very little of it really hits home the way other episodes have.
Maybe, during the pandemic, it's better to have something a little more light-hearted and not so focused on its messaging. Maybe it's just an off-season. Maybe, every long-running series needs at least one off-season – and if that's true, then this season was most definitely it.
All episodes of 'Big Mouth' Season 4 are now available to stream on Netflix.