This Big Mouth review contains no spoilers.
“Guys, can we just tone it down this year for Valentine’s Day?”
Netflix series are no strangers to surprise holiday installments in honor of occasions like Christmas and Halloween, but the hormone-heavy Big Mouth is truly the perfect show from Netflix’s lineup to tackle a tribute to the calendar’s most romantic holiday. And of course, because this is Big Mouth’s take on Valentine’s Day, “My Furry Valentine” is just as crude, shocking, and endearing as the rest of the series.
Valentine’s Day is a routinely awkward time of the year for many people, but this is especially the case for impressionable children who are still very much coming to terms with their hormones and sexuality in the first place. Accordingly, Valentine’s Day is typically a powder keg of tension in school settings and Big Mouth effortlessly taps into that uncomfortable energy.
Cupid’s arrow strikes all of these hapless, confused adolescents and gets to cover most of the more universal moments of this holiday, like the difficult in gift giving, ironic Valentine’s Day dates, or the anxiety involved in sending out Valentines and if they’ll be reciprocated. These kids get to freak out over all sorts of Valentine’s Day minutiae. “My Furry Valentine” eschews plenty of romantic comedy tropes, but also gleefully plays into them and features a handful of musical numbers that help give this holiday special a little extra energy. They’re really good, too (especially a new rendition of the show’s theme, “Changes”)!
The special also excels at finding lots of inventive fantasy sequences that act as cute metaphors for sexual activity. On top of these imaginative approaches to sexuality, there’s always a real issue or question at the core and these characters get to grow in the process. Every character gets a real moment of contemplation and eventually understands that they do deserve love.
“My Furry Valentine” finds a good use for all of its characters and keeps a lot of balls in the air. Andrew adopts a cocky, cool, kangol-wearing persona for the holiday, which is a delightfully embarrassing display. His Valentine’s Day pursuit is to win Missy’s heart, but each character has his or her own romantic obstacle to negotiate around in this episode. This allows for certain character combinations to really pop, like Jessie and Matthew, who are such a good pairing in this. Hopefully they will continue to be a team as the show moves forward. There’s such chemistry there.
The installment provides many opportunities for Andrew and Maurice to just riff and banter with each other and it could seriously go on for the entire episode and I wouldn’t get tired of it. Everyone in this cast is excellent, but Kroll and Mulaney’s long-time friendship helps their scenes together resonate on another level.
As Andrew and Maurice grow closer, Nick struggles with the growing pains that accompany the new female Hormone Monster that’s at his side and what that may mean about him and who he is. Big Mouth isn’t averse to tackling more complex topics about sexuality, but it’s encouraging to see more of that conversation happening with Nick. It also helps further separate Nick and Andrew so they have distinct issues to work through.
Coach Steve also finds himself in a particularly absurd storyline that gets the most out of this increasingly bizarre character, but still finds the humanity within him. It’s strangely satisfying and humorous to see how these characters continue to have symbiotic relationships with the actors that play them, such as Jay’s elaborate, crude fantasy to become the “ultimate fuck machine” and how that mirrors the horndog personality that Jason Mantzoukas so often playfully puts out there.
While “My Furry Valentine” is a fun super-sized Valentine’s Day special, it’s still an installment that’s connected to the overall story of the show. Plot threads from the end of the second season get carried over and it’s fair to say that those that miss this episode may feel a little out of the loop when the show’s third season officially begins. This is a double-length episode, but it actually feels like it, rather than this just being two episodes that are linked together. There are certain moments where “My Furry Valentine” allows its characters to get lost in a scene and stretch out certain moments for their maximum comedic potential, but the episode never feels like it drags or that it’s intentionally padding its time to reach 45 minutes.
Big Mouth’s “My Furry Valentine” is the perfect treat to tide over fans until the debut of season three. Everyone gets their moment to shine in this episode and even more tertiary characters get to make satisfying appearances. Sometimes holiday specials can give off a different vibe than the usual episodes of a show, but this feels just like a regular installment. In fact, if this episode fell in the middle of the season it would still likely be one of the better installments from the year. There’s a strong theme that runs through this episode that continually gives it material to pull from and “My Furry Valentine” is a good example of when the show’s chaotically lovable energy really connects with its subject matter.
And yes, a re-watching and heavy familiarity with Must Love Dogs would make your viewing experience more pleasurable.
Big Mouth’s “My Furry Valentine” is now available to stream on Netflix, just in time for Valentine’s Day
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.