A Valentine’s Day special aired this past February and it featured love, lust, and plenty of embarrassment. The creative team behind the show signed an overall deal to produce new shows for Netflix AND confirmed at least three more seasons of Big Mouth. If that wasn’t enough for fans, Netflix used the show’s panel at New York Comic Con to announce a spinoff series, titled Human Resources, that will explore the world of the hormone monsters. Big Mouth content is about to be as plentiful as Maury’s hairy peni. That’s the correct plural spelling, right?
So we’re all thrilled the Big Mouth universe is expanding, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be growing pains. Big Mouth season 3, which is now streaming, is all about coming of age, and we don’t mean that in a filthy sense. The season picks up with Andrew in the doghouse after the fallout of his actions in the Valentine’s Day special, Missy moving on with a new lover, Nick developing an unexpected relationship early in the season, Jessi working through her bouts of depression, and Jay in a personal conflict about his sexuality when he learns the spectrum is wider and more nuanced than he ever imagined. While the new season tackles some serious topics, it does so without losing any of the wit, silliness, and musical numbers that fans gravitated towards in its first two seasons.
During NYCC, series co-creator and voice actor extraordinaire Nick Kroll and actors Jason Mantzoukas (Jay) and Jessi Klein (Jessi) held a press conference with reporters to discuss all things Big Mouth. Below we have some of the best excerpts…
On writing storylines during the #MeToo movement:
Kroll: “I think really this season was the first season we wrote after #MeToo took hold, and so a lot of the season is the kids struggling with living in a post-MeToo world where women and girls are fed up and angry, and men are trying to understand how to deal with their masculinity. And Nick I think finds himself somewhere in between because he has a female hormone monster and he is trying to navigate where he fits inside of all that.”
On this season’s Queer Eye episode:
Kroll: “We were all watching Queer Eye, and we just loved the show. We thought that Coach Steve would be a funny person to put on Queer Eye because underneath he’s… I like to describe as like a melon with a mustache. We always feel like there might be like a good looking guy underneath all that. So we approached them. I met them at Netflix events and knew them a bit casually, and we went through Netflix and went to the show, and they were immediately on board. Trying to coordinate their schedule while they were shooting seasons took a little bit of work, but they were down, and they were great.”
On doing a full musical episode for the first time:
Kroll: “We did an episode where the kids put on a musical of the movie Disclosure, the ‘90s movie. We wanted to do a musical, a kids’ musical episode, and we thought it would be a funny object for it. And I was like, well, the bad example would be like Disclosure. And then it kind of stuck. We kept trying to find another project, but it worked well because Disclosure is this story about women weaponizing sexual harassment and, really, white upper middle class male paranoia. And it was made 25 years ago, so it’s a real ‘90s kind of movie and so it ended up being kind of a perfect movie to talk our way into talking about sexual harassment. And then we talked about it on [the podcast] How Did This Get Made?.
Mantzoukas: “Yeah, the How Did This Get Made? podcast, which I’m one of the hosts of. We did an episode dedicated to the movie Disclosure that allowed us to talk about it and then also talk about the episode of the Big Mouth.”
On the animation process behind personifying different homores:
Jessi Klein: “I draw them all, but I also, I have them all already drawn. So then Nick just tells me which ones we need.”
Kroll: “We have an incredible character design team and animators. When we cast [actors] we tried to use that person. Like the Shame Wizard, we had been working on the design for when we got David Thewlis to voice the [character]. We sent our designers pictures of David to then go back in and add some of the details of it. We did the same with a lot of the Ali Wong’s [new] character for example, and we cast Ali. She really feels like Ali and there’s something about giving a real reference to the people that adds some weird specificity to the humanity of the characters.”
On table reads and the voice acting process:
Mantzoukas: “I’d say one of the best recurring comedy shows in LA is the Big Mouth table read that happens Tuesdays when we’re in season. It’s the funniest script read by some of the funniest people in town. But then for us it’s about getting in the booth preferably together as much as possible. We’ve all known each other for decades. We’ve all come in with improv backgrounds. So there is an element of playfulness that allows for discoveries in the room that can then turn into recurring bits throughout or can just be one off tangents and whatever. The fact that we recorded together atypically from a lot of the other animation I’ve done. The fact that we do record together adds that sense of discovery and a feeling that anything can happen and I feel like translates to the show quite well.”
Klein: “I actually don’t come from an improv background really. I did stand up, but it is so fun to get to be in the booth with people like Nick and Jason just doing scenes where I am getting to play in this way that I never did before. Truly there are moments where I almost can’t breathe. It’s so funny, what people around me are doing.”
Mantzoukas: “Oh, we always laugh. Like that’s, yeah. Everybody wants to know like ‘are you afraid you’re going to laugh? ‘We just do laugh all the time.”
On the characters aging throughout the series:
Kroll: “The joy is that we don’t have to do it too fast. In other coming of age shows the kids just physically mature. So we’re kind of slowly aging them. I don’t, I mean I assume as we age them we’ll continue to have those kids deal with the realities of what feels age appropriate.”
Mantzoukas: “They’re not… Bart Simpson is Bart Simpson is Bart Simpson is Bart Simpson. Like these kids are already older than they were in season one. I don’t think season five they’re going to be juniors in college, you know?”
On approaching delicate topics in the series:
Kroll: “The beauty of animation is you have so many different moments within the process to figure out where the line is. So we’ve got a table read, we’ve got to record, we’ve got a radio play, we’ve got an animatic, we’ve got a color final screening. So at every one of those stages you can leave a joke and if it doesn’t feel like it’s appropriate any more, then you pull it out. There are certain things where we’re like, oh boy, that’s a lot of, you know, masturbation jokes. That’s a lot of shit jokes. That’s a lot of farts or whatever it is. You find that line and we screen episodes with everyone in the office.”
Mantzoukas: “Every episode we’ve recorded, Jay has, for example, violent diarrhea. Every episode, and yet it just gets cut out every time. So one of these times there’s going to be just a full diarrhea. The diarrhea-sode.”
On channeling childhood memories into their performances:
Klein: “I started keeping a little diary, I think when I was like eight years old, and I still have it and it went through, maybe it went through junior high and reading it is the most excruciating, horrendous, horrendous thing to read. It’s so vividly horrifying. It’s just how earnestly everything was felt, and that everything felt so big. There was no irony or sarcasm in the experience and there was no other perspective when you’re that age. I have to say reading the scripts, the writers are so good. There are things that are in there that I haven’t thought about in a long time and then all of a sudden I’m reading an episode, and it really, something very vividly comes back to me.”
Big Mouth Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.