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Andrew has a conversation with his hormone monster, Maury.

After a year hiatus with the exception of a Valentine’s Day special Netflix’s outlandish animated series “Big Mouth” has returned for a third season. Created by series star Nick Kroll alongside Mark Levin, Andrew Goldberg and Jennifer Flackett, “Big Mouth” focuses on the lives of a group of seventh-grade friends struggling through puberty. While still containing more than its fair share of vulgar language and disturbing scenes, season 3 manages to find a successful balance between telling relatable stories of teenage hardships and giving commentary on important social issues. 

Season 3 begins soon after the season 2 finale and Valentine’s Day special, with Andrew (John Mulaney) immaturely acting out upon discovering that Missy (Jenny Slate) may have feelings for another boy. Nick (Kroll) is getting used to having Connie (Maya Rudolph) as his new hormone monstress, Jessi (Jessi Klein), is still working through her parents’ divorce and Jay (Jason Mantzoukas) begins seriously exploring his sexuality. 

“Big Mouth” continues to flesh out its secondary cast in this newest season. Bridgeton Middle students continue to make numerous appearances, as well as Coach Steve (Kroll) and the Shame Wizard (David Thewlis). Characters like Matthew (Andrew Rannells) and Lola (Kroll) get their own storylines, and there’s even an episode focused on the Ghost of Duke Ellington (Jordan Peele). 

Season 3 also introduces several new characters. Similar to the way in which Jay has had several odd and uncomfortably intimate relationships with different pillows and couch cushions, Chelsea Peretti guest stars as Nick’s new cellphone that he becomes unhealthily obsessed with, mimicking a toxic romantic relationship. Comedian Ali Wong plays Ali, a new girl in school who captures the class’s attention with her appearance, and the Fab Five of “Queer Eye” also cameo as themselves as they work on helping Coach Steve.

Season 3 shows significant development for the characters. While it seemed questionable whether or not Connie would continue being Jessi’s hormone monstress after the end of season 2, she remained by her side this season, and the show was able to contrast the different perspectives Connie offers in both Nick and Jessi’s minds, especially when the two shared scenes together. Andrew still has Maury (Kroll) as his hormone monster, and though he started the series with a somewhat intact moral code, Andrew’s character provides several examples of toxic masculinity and what can be problematic about so-called “nice guys.” Missy who’s always been seen as polite and shy finds new confidence in herself, aided by her new hormone monstress (Thandie Newton) and celebrity crush Nathan Fillion. 

For a show that doesn’t shy away from offensive comments and scenes, “Big Mouth” season 3 manages to tastefully touch upon multiple important topics. Gender roles and double standards are huge themes throughout the episodes, first coming up in the premiere (discounting the Valentine’s Day special) when the school implements a new sexist dress code. The girls decide to dress provocatively in protest, with the episode featuring an explosive argument between the girls and boys on the unfairness and implications of the dress code, and no matter what a girl wears, it still doesn’t mean she’s “asking for” inappropriate male attention. On a different note, as Jay discovers he’s bisexual, he comes to the unfortunate realization that society and teenagers view male and female bisexuals in different ways.

In seasons 1 and 2, “Big Mouth” took several opportunities to use songs to express different lessons the characters were learning. Season 3 continues this trend, with one episode featuring the students trying to put on a musical production of “Disclosure.” Not only is the season filled with more songs, but the different music playing during the end credits also helps emphasize a message the episode was sending or the characters’ emotions. In an episode about the addiction many people have to technology and their phones, it closes with “Phone Down” feat. Emily Warren by Lost Kings. Similarly, a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” plays when an episode ends with a fight between two friends.

Those who loved “Big Mouth” seasons 1 and 2 are sure to enjoy the third season. Through ridiculous antics, the show carefully develops strong characters and sends progressive messages about how teens should aim to act. With Netflix renewing the show for three more seasons over the summer and the news of a spinoff about the hormone monsters going into the works, “Big Mouth” is guaranteed to keep entertaining its fans and gain new audiences for years to come.

Contact Kira Baldau at baldaukb@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.