On Saturday the cast and crew of Netfix’s Big Mouth reunited at the Neuehouse in Hollywood for an FYC screening and Q&A event with Emmy voters. The afternoon began with a screening of the episode “The Planned Parenthood Snow.” Afterwards the Q&A, moderated by Andy Richter, featured star and executive producer Nick Kroll, executive producers Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett, and Mark Levin, and stars Jessi Klein, Jenny Slate, and Jason Mantzoukas.
Big Mouth, as uncomfortable as it can be to sit through, is one of the most relatable shows on television and for good reason. Creators Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg revealed that they have been close friends since they were in grade school. Andrew described how his initial idea drew directly from their childhood. I had this idea for a show about boys growing up in a Jewish Day School. They were like ‘let’s take away all the bad stuff and let’s take all the funny stories about you and Nick and see if he wants to do something.’”
For Goldberg and Kroll, pitching the show was an incredibly personal experience and how coming in with their own life stories made it that much easier. They discussed bringing in old pictures and telling Netflix executives stories from their childhoods. They told a story about a friend who used to have sex with a pillow. A story about a friend who had her first field trip on a school trip to the Statue of Liberty.
Executive Producer and writer Jennifer Flackett vividly remembered one of the first creative meetings they had where the unique perspective of the show was born. “I always think back to the day when we were talking about how hard it was to watch our kids go through puberty and how animation was a great way to convey all of that. And then Andrew asked if there should be a hormone monster and Nick said “touch yourself Andrew.” That was the day Big Mouth was Born.”
Executive Producer Mark Levin was very clear that they never set out to make a gross show. “We set out to make an honest show about puberty and developing sexuality in a way that had not been done. Because it’s animated we can touch on things that had been difficult to address.”
Their stories of the writers room came across as a comedic version of a therapy session where everyone is free to bring up their childhood traumas of puberty. Nick Kroll told the room the time he was pantsed in front of his first crush while another member told the story of the time he was at a party where someone was pantsed on a zip line. Flackett opened up about going through a shoplifting phase while her parents were divorcing. Jessi Klein joked about emailing the writing staff a three page letter about her vagina. Clearly nothing is off-limits with the Big Mouth family and the show is all the better for it.
Big Mouth features some of the best voice work currently in television and the third season is going to feature plenty of amazing guest stars. Ali Wong and Thandie Newton were announced in undisclosed roles and the biggest news was the reveal of Martin Short as a Canadian pansexual wizard who sings a song about the spectrum of sexuality.
The FYC event began with a screening of the Planned Parenthood episode, an episode the entire cast and crew is particularly proud of. The initial idea was inspired in the wake of the 2016 election and a meeting with Planned Parenthood CEO Sue Dunlap. Flackett and Levin were at a local meeting with Dunlap when she inspired the idea. “In the wake of the last election there were lots of meetings to find out what people could do to be part of the solution. We spoke with Sue Dunlap and she said what they really want and need beyond donations is for people like us to tell their stories and everything they do to help people.” From there the writers room took a field trip to a local Planned Parenthood and the idea for the episode was born.
It was important for Nick Kroll to emphasize the comedy of the episode and for the material not to come across as preachy. In 30 minute episode the writers highlighted how the organization treats STDs and fights the myths around diseases through a mock horror/slasher clip, the various options of contraception in a Bachelorette spoof, and an honest portrayal of a woman seeking an abortion.
For Nick Kroll the goal of the show was never to teach kids about the experience of puberty and growing up but he and the rest of the team are incredibly conscious of the messages they are putting out into the world. They are constantly approached by parents who watch the show with their kids, although often times in different rooms. Even for Andy Richter one of the reasons he was so excited to moderate the event was because it was one of the few shows he and his kids both watch joking that his daughter found it more relatable than Eighth Grade.
A television academy member in the audience asked if there was any topic off limits or that the writers have had difficulty finding a perspective for. Surprisingly Netflix hasn’t had any issues with the material so far and has only asked to draw in a little more steam hear and there to cover nudity. Andrew brought up that they still have so many topics to cover including acne and body odor. Nick and Andrew even teased about a season three plot focused on the story of Duke Ellington’s virginity.
The second season of Big Mouth will be eligible at the 2019 Emmys in a wide variety of categories including Outstanding Animated Program, Outstanding Comedy Writing, Outstanding Voice-Over Performance, and Outstanding Original Song.