Look Who’s Talking: Nick Kroll’s Big Mouth
EMMA JONES // FEBRUARY 22, 2019
For those of you who don’t know, Big Mouth is an animated Netflix hit that follows the ups and downs of middle schoolers battling their way through puberty. It features a few main characters— Nick, Andrew, Jessi, Jay, and Missy— going about their young budding lives as they are mentored by their Hormone Monsters. The Hormone Monsters are giant fuzzy creatures that guide kids through their big changes. They give good advice, bad advice, make them laugh, and make them cry. The show really stays topical by exploring issues like sexuality, periods, pubes, sexual assault, masturbation, porn, mental health, and, most importantly, young love. A new episode was released early this February that hits the stress and “bullshit love cliché” of Valentine’s Day right on the head by exploring the way these pre-teens handle their hormones and emotions overwhelming their tiny bodies through their relationships and love lives.
Big Mouth is known for being super progressive and “woke.” It uses raunchy humor that can be honestly just gross or a little too much, but in a way that makes you think about gender inequality, bodily changes, and toxic masculinity— and all while watching a silly cartoon! “Big Mouth is arguably a filthier show [than South Park], with even cruder jokes and an obsession with sex that’s more relentless,” says Glen Weldon of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. Even though Big Mouth is overall a pretty conscientious show, I think there is a pretty blatant issue that no one really seems to care about. White-Man Nick Kroll, co-creator and cast member of Big Mouth, is voicing a lot of characters that he should not be.
Starting with Lola. Lola is a supporting yet vital character in the show. She’s a little blonde 12 year old who desperately wants to be everything associated with being popular: hyper-femme, pretty, well known, and liked by everyone. The gag about her character is that she isn’t the hyper-femme-pretty-girl who she wants to be. One of the ways that she isn’t, is that she’s voiced by Nick Kroll. He gives her a voice that is harsh and loud, which is supposed to make her “unfeminine.” Literally the entire joke is that she wants to be super-girly yet has a deep man’s voice. Are the writers really going to say that having a deep voice makes someone less feminine? Is that actually funny? Could they really not have chosen a better avenue for this? The issue isn’t that a man is voicing her character, it’s that the joke is that a man is voicing her character. They easily could have chosen a different voice actor or actress, or gone with a different direction in exploring this concept. They could have decided to more clearly address the issue of grappling with femininity rather than making a loud joke. It would still be funny. It would better resonate with people who do struggle with femininity and feeling as though they’re failing at it, rather than turning it into mockery.
Nick Kroll also voices the ladybug that is seen in several of the episodes to add comedic relief. The ladybug has a pretty blatant “blaccent.” A “blaccent” is defined by Urban Dictionary as “The act of a person of another race speaking with an accent they believe black people speak with.” Why does the ladybug need a blaccent? Is that actually funny? I think they wanted the ladybug to be “sassy,” and they thought the best way to do that was to give him a blaccent. Nick Kroll (white) should not be voicing a character who’s entire bit is having a blaccent. Seems both racist and stupid.
Nick Kroll also voices a character named “Abuela” who I do not remember from the show but I saw on IMDB. This also seems wrong. I can only imagine the kind of stereotypes Kroll employs with this one.
I think that “Big Mouth” should stop relying on cheap humor and put more effort into making real jokes. Some of their stuff is actually funny and they should keep paying that writer. The producers of this show should take on the responsibility that they have. Nick Kroll should stop voicing characters he has no business voicing, and women and POC should play the parts that are going to him instead. If they’re going to make a point about a character, they should be doing it blatantly rather than making it into a weirdly veiled joke.