Every episode of Big Mouth has merit, but there’s one that stands out as the best episode this series has ever done: season 2, episode 5, “The Planned Parenthood Show.”
(Fair warning, this article spoils just about every detail of this episode of Big Mouth. Go watch it before reading.)
As I said in my Big Mouth season 2 review, some of my favorite episodes of the series overall have been in season 2, but without a doubt, the absolute best episode has to be 2×05.
This is the perfect example of what this show is trying to do with each episode. Coach Steve, believe it or not, says it best when he asks his class to explain Planned Parenthood to him: “I don’t understand. Do you have some sort of skit that we can watch that would be entertaining and informative but also not too preachy?”
“Oh, that is a fine line we’re trying to walk,” Nick replies.
Yes. Yes, it is. But Big Mouth does it brilliantly. It also does it best in “The Planned Parenthood Show.”
The first skit is a hybrid Star Wars/Star Trek parody featuring the ever lovable Nathan “I’m sorry all your shows got cancelled” Fillion. It also features the Hormone Monstress as quite a convincing Chewbacca, while Caleb does his best Geordi La Forge. The team heads to Texania, which is Bilzerian(!) territory, and at this point it should be clear that this skit, and this episode, isn’t pulling any punches.
The year is 2126. The evil LORD BILZERIAN has declared women’s healthcare ‘gay’ and outlawed all Planned Parenthoods.
Luckily, an elite medical team travels the galaxy, helping women in need. Led by CAPTAIN MISSY FOREMAN-GREENWALD, they are…
It’s hard to say what I love best about this adventure with The Vagilantes. The pop culture references are on point, including the lonely landscape of Tatooine, where the team start their mission.
I also love all the little ways the animators fit penises and vaginas into the various objects of this world. Missy’s ship is shaped like a uterus, complete with a vaginal door featuring a golden clitoris at the apex. Jay’s ship also looks like a penis (as do the Bilzerians), and their guns are cocked by pulling the skin back on their dick-shaped weapons.
And just like Coach Steve requested, this skit is full of useful information. Missy tells us, “When the average woman is born, she has 300,000 eggs,” and uses that to convince the Bilzerians that they should care about the female form.
“I will see to it that we protect these beautiful factories for male excellence,” Jay the Bilzerian says.
Not quite what we were going for, but not completely unexpected, either.
I also mentioned in my review that Big Mouth is great at handling their gross characters, like Jay: “What always impresses me about this show is that they rarely go for the cheap jokes, and even when they do, someone is there to tell them it’s a cheap joke.”
Jay’s joke about paying women to do a breast examination — and Andrew’s response to this — perfectly encapsulates what I mean. And from this, the group quickly transitions into the next skit, a parody of The Bachelor called Miss Conception.
This skit introduces all forms of contraception, including condoms, the pill, the implant, the diaphragm, the IUD, and the pull out method. It gives us the years they were invented and talks about the pros and cons of each, all while disguising the information as conversation at a cocktail party.
The standouts here must be the condom (“Did we just hug? I couldn’t feel anything”), the pull out method as a kind of skeevy drunk dude, and the diaphragm as a dying elderly women with a bag full of coconut shrimp.
What I love about this is that despite all the information, Nick’s sister Leah still chooses the pull out method, like so many young women do. Just like the method’s personification, it causes some serious red flags to be raised, but it’s also deceptively alluring. Luckily, Leah’s mom has experience on her side and decides that her daughter will go on the pill and also use condoms.
As Big Mouth always is, this skit is incredibly sex positive. Despite talking about a 16-year-old girl, abstinence isn’t even an option on the table. That’s not to say it’s an invalid choice, but I like that the series is more focused on education than on shaming its characters (and therefore its audience) for liking sex.
“Wow, I never realized women had to make so many birth control choices,” Andrew intones.
“Well, men need to take responsibility, too, though,” Jessi replies.
This is a timely conversation, especially following this brilliant thread on Twitter. Women go through so much to ensure there are no unwanted pregnancies, and men complain about using a condom.
But not Mr. Birch. He is, as ever, a perfect husband and father, albeit a great source of humiliation for Nick. Still, he knows how important it is to take responsibility, especially as his wife’s birth control pills were starting to affect her NM (Natural Moisture). That’s why he chose to get a vasectomy.
The skit begins in Brooklyn with a voiceover laced with sweet, sweet nostalgia. The timeline is a bit confusing, and for some reason the reoccurring bit takes the form of a rabid and horny lobster.
“I’m sorry, is that a Woody Allen thing?” Nick asks, mid-skit. “I’ve never seen any of his movies because Mom says he’s a monster.”
I’ve never seen any of his movies either, so someone else will have to relay all the references in Elliot’s somewhat nonsensical walk down memory lane. Maybe it was the lack of Woody Allen knowledge, but this did seem to be the weakest skit out of all of them. Then again, maybe that was the point?
Either way, it didn’t delve into what exactly a vasectomy is or how you get one, though it did drive home the merit of the operation. And that’s something I can appreciate.
Each skit has its own style and genre, and Barbara Glouberman’s memory of her abortion is no exception. This one is done with nearly no dialogue and feels more like a music video, which works well with the heavy topic. It doesn’t leave room for jokes, and instead chooses to depict the heartache of abortions with nothing but music.
But Big Mouth doesn’t choose to linger on what happens with an unwanted pregnancy. It doesn’t even shame Barbara for having unprotected sex. Instead, it shows how glorious life can be when you find a person you’re ready to start a family with. Having an abortion does not negate that option for you. Rather, that agency over your own life makes the choice that much sweeter.
“Busted! Planned Parenthood DOES do abortions!” Jay says.
“Yeah, because women have the right to choose what happens to their bodies,” Jessi argues.
Speaking of timely conversations, two of the biggest topics of conversation right now are centered around sexual assault allegations or how Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. This skit is certainly going to push some buttons, and not for the first time, Big Mouth breaks the fourth wall for some much needed humor (and a good reality check).
“Oh shit, I’m gonna get some twitter comments about this,” Nick says. “They’re gonna be mean and threatening and weirdly personal.”
If you know it’s coming, are those twitter comments any less mean and threatening and weirdly personal? No, probably not.
“Sex is so complicated,” Andrew says.
Yes! Yes, it is. And that sentiment is what makes Big Mouth such a great show. Sure, it’s animated (because that’s a mark against it for some people?). And sure, it’s about a bunch of tweens. But that doesn’t make it any less relevant. Puberty and sex are extremely complicated, and sometimes the best way to deal with that is to get Netflix to fund a show about all the embarrassing moments you had has a pre-teen.
But if you thought that was the end of the episode, you were sorely mistaken. Next we delve into the horror genre as we explore STDs. They chose to go with the fictional (yes, fictional — as in 100% not real) “Blue Waffle.” You can definitely call this fearmongering, but there is some merit to how the STD spreads like a zombie virus.
Plus, with Jordan Peele on the list of your voice actors (Ghost of Duke Ellington, Ghost of Freddie Mercury, Atlanta Claus, a DJ, Missy’s father Cyrus, and Patrick Ewing), you know you have to throw in a Get Out reference as well. And it is hilarious.
But at the end of the day, even this skit aims to relay important, accurate information. When Andrew sees a flier for Planned Parenthood, Maury exclaims, “Are you crazy? That place is just for girls.”
Obviously that’s not true. And as the nice lady at Planned Parenthood explains, Blue Waffle isn’t real either. But STDs aren’t a myth (just like Slender Man), and only regular checkups will ensure you’re taking care of your sexual health to the best of your ability.
By the end of this episode, Coach Steve actually learns something, and hopefully the audience does, too.
“They do medicine for your bathing suit parts!”
Well, yes. That’s an insanely simplified and somewhat crude interpretation of this brilliant 25-minute episode, but I can’t say it’s entirely wrong.
For our efforts, we get a perfect SNL sendoff, with Coach Steve thanking a whole host of people for making this episode possible (“Nathan Fillion, you’re a real sport.” “I love you!”). But the true treat comes at the very end:
“Oh, I can’t forget…the Liberal Elite for their awesome agenda, you guys rocked it. You convinced us to do an episode of planned parenthood, even though so many people are going to be furious at us for doing it.”
Once again, Big Mouth breaks the fourth wall. And once again, it comes straight from co-creator Nick Kroll’s mouth, since he voices Nick, Coach Steve, and several other characters on the show.
It’s true that plenty of people will be mad about this episode. I mean, how dare Big Mouth set aside their occasional crude humor for a brilliantly written, feminist episode meant to inform everyone, young and old, no matter their gender, about the importance of Planned Parenthood.
How dare they encourage people to enjoy safe sex and teach them what to do if life throws them a curve ball.
How dare they?