Unraveling Jessi and the Gang’s Anxiety in ‘Big Mouth’ Season 4

On the latest season of Big Mouth, which made its debut on Netflix on Dec. 4, not only did we get to reunite with our favorite group of awkward middle schoolers and their hormone monsters, but we were also introduced to a few new reputable characters. The most notable being Tito, the Anxiety Mosquito (Maria Bamford), who seemed to bite the young teens hard this season.

Season 4 of Big Mouth begins during summer vacation when Jessi (Jessi Klein), Nick (Nick Kroll) and Andrew (John Mulaney) are all away at sleep-away camp. Jesse first finds herself overwhelmed with anxiety when she has to go into the lake while on her period and fears what will happen if anyone were to find out. What started out as merely a fear becomes a reality when her bloody pad begins floating in the salty lake water causing everyone to freak out. This event seems to be just the beginning of what will soon become a lengthy battle with anxiety for already depressed and hormone-crazed Jessi Glaser. 

After camp, Jessi is forced to move to New York City to live with her mother, leaving all of her old friends behind. So Jessi, Tito and Depression Kitty (Jean Smart) pack their bags for the big city. There, she attends a private school where the other students all spent their summer traveling abroad for impressive socially conscious service trips—which makes her feel out of place. So in an attempt to fit in, Jessi lies to the other girls about how she spent her summer.

To try and ease her anxiety and feelings of loneliness, Jessi finds an older boy named Micheal Angelo (Sterling K. Brown) to hang out with. For a few weeks, Micheal Angelo rids Jessi of Tito and Depression Kitty by making her feel special, but it doesn’t last long. The personified creatures return when Micheal Angelo tries to pressure her into sex and attempts to drive her away from her friends. 

Thankfully, after a wild ride in New York, Jessi’s mom allows her to return home to live with her father and his new girlfriend. She then returns to therapy—where she went in season 2 when the Depression Kitty first appeared—but this time, she doesn’t connect with her therapist who minimizes her problems.

Although Jessi’s anxiety and depression is most often at the forefront, that doesn’t mean that her peers don’t suffer from these issues as well. In fact, we learned from this season that Nick is in constant fear of what he will one day turn into if he can’t be honest about his feelings for Jessi. This becomes especially present in episode 6 when Nick sees himself 30 years in the future as a rich but hopelessly lonely game show host who will die alone when the world blows up. Additionally, Matthew MacDell (Andrew Rannells) shows signs of anxiety when his mother discovers that he is gay and is faced with the task of coming out to his father. Finally, Andrew is especially anxious this season worrying that his disappointing the family is the reason that his grandfather died and the same thing will inevitably happen to his father.

Netflix

In the ninth episode of the season, the gang and their anxieties come to fruition when they go to a sorority haunted house on Halloween night and are given psychedelics by a few college girls. After taking the drugs, Nick comes face to face with his future self, Andrew sees his dad die of a heart attack he caused and Matthew has to decide whether to save his boyfriend or his mother from being killed. Plus, Jesse meets Gratitoad, a talking toad who insists that she should just be grateful for what she has instead of being down.

I feel that Big Mouth does a fabulous job of presenting hard-hitting topics in a way that is both authentic and funny. Unlike the majority of shows about kids and teens where the problem eventually goes away after a few episodes, Big Mouth continues to build upon the characters issues and takes time to flesh them out. The series does a great job of showing how the young anxious brain develops and how for most developing teens, things will most likely get worse before getting better. The series also does a fine job at portraying anxiety as something that stems from an individual’s own unique truths and experiences as opposed to something that just pops up out of nowhere. It has been a long time since we’ve had a show be so vulnerable and real in this way—especially in the animated comedy genre—making Big Mouth truly something special.

‘Big Mouth’ is available to stream on Netflix.

By Blair Krassen

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