It feels impossible to watch five minutes of a Big Mouth episode without reliving the awkwardness, and overall unpleasantness, of adolescent development. You begin questioning whether you’re cringing at embarrassing middle school memories, the jokes that are so bad they’re funny, or both.
The Netflix comedy’s newest release, “My Furry Valentine,” is a 46-minute (normal episodes are 26-27 minutes) holiday special that feels absolutely fitting for the season — some of the most uncomfortable middle school days revolve around this holiday. Even those far removed from seventh grade can cringe over the thought of dealing with the holiday as an 11-year-old again. “My Furry Valentine” embraces those feelings, as a big open love letter to puberty-stricken pre-teens.
Big Mouth generally deals with the feeling of being the “other.” While viewers understand that everyone must live through the curses of puberty, it’s comical to watch Nick, Andrew, Jessi and company think they’re the only ones suffering under nature’s cruelty. The new special takes this concept one step further, as the group is forced to navigate their realities during the sappy, commercialized, Hallmark holiday of Valentine’s Day.
As fans of Big Mouth know, everyone goes through their changes differently. Valentine’s Day only amplifies that. While Nick is fighting to have a Valentine other than his mom, Andrew is attempting to get Missy to fall in love with him. It’s reminiscent of the days when some classmates still believed in cooties and others already had three “exes.”
Part of the special focuses on Andrew, who’s a classic middle school boy in many ways. His constant complaining and worrying already made him unlikeable in the first two seasons, but in “My Furry Valentine” his actions stoop so low, and viewers cannot help but feel their hatred in full force. At the end of the episode, he has a complete breakdown that seems totally out of the realm of a cartoon middle schooler — but it’s still entertaining. Viewers watch as Andrew literally becomes his dad, the only character less likable than he is.
While each character is on their own unpleasant journey, Matthew’s storyline is the best. He’s struggled with being the only openly gay kid in his school. This is painful enough, but being forced to face the holiday devoted to love and affection head-on just exacerbates what he’s feeling. Jessi is also sulking, as she’s still dealing with the reality of her parents’ separation. They pair up to pout over the horribleness of Valentine’s Day and the cynical duo’s dark humor is totally hilarious.
Luckily, “My Furry Valentine” isn’t all depressingly uncomfortable — it has its uplifting moments, too. Matthew unexpectedly meets another gay kid, who’s shopping for a Valentine’s Day card for his female best friend. The two flirt a bit and exchange Instagram handles. It definitely heightens the excitement for season three, since this storyline could come up in the next batch of episodes.
It’s great to watch Matthew’s journey in understanding his sexuality; many viewers can easily think, “If only I saw this when I was in middle school.” While the representation is great, and Big Mouth is definitely easy to love, the show shouldn’t get too much credit. I wouldn’t sit an 11-year-old down to watch the show, especially when Jay is literally on a sex rampage throughout the special.
Regardless, Big Mouth is still iconic. It’s too often overlooked and dismissed as an adult cartoon full of crude humor. Luckily, if you have yet to binge watch the show, “My Furry Valentine” can easily be watched as the first episode. While we are sitting in the cold, and overall horrible, month of February and awaiting season three, “My Furry Valentine” gives us the strength we need to power through.