Netflix's 'Big Mouth' Is Better At Teaching Consent Than Your School
23 October 2017, 17:33 | Updated: 24 October 2017, 10:38
The new animated series, led by Nick Kroll, isn't just hilarious - it's essential sex education for teens.
For most teenagers, sex education comes in two forms. The first is an awkward conversation with a parent in which nobody makes eye contact, the phrase the 'birds and the bees' is used without irony and everyone leaves as quickly as possible upon completion. Then there are the more formal education classes on the school curriculum, often coming complete with a biologically correct yet inexplicably dull video that hasn't been updated since 1989 and culminating in the application of a condom to a bendy piece of fruit. Inevitably, questions are left unanswered and kids are left incredibly underprepared.
Enter Big Mouth, the hilarious animated sitcom from Netflix that addresses every awkward detail of puberty in hilarious and horrifyingly accurate fashion. Covering everything from pimples to pubic hair and period pain, the show features Nick Kroll (Nick), John Mulaney (Andrew), Jessi Klein (Jessi) and a whole host of other comedians exploring the endlessly embarassing saga of the transition from child to young adult.
But while many TV shows of the past have mined this particular segment of life for laughs, none have ever been this bold or this ballsy: there's a pair of horny hormone monsters; the wise-cracking ghost of Duke Ellington; an R.E.M parody led by a Michael Stipe-shaped tampon; a talking vagina with the voice of Kristen Wiig; a pillow with the ability to give birth - all culminating in a song and dance number simply entitled 'Life Is A Fucked Up Mess'.
You didn't get that on The Wonder Years did you?
However, while its wilder moments are undoubtedly entertaining (Freddie Mercury delivering a 'Somebody To Love'-esque piano jam about the joys of being gay is a particular highlight), the crowning achievement of the show comes in episode 8, entitled 'The Head Push'.
Set during an after-party for the school production of 'The Cruise-able' (a reworking of The Crucible about the press attacking Tom Cruise), the story sees Nick's older sister Leah attempt to hook up with her crush, leading man and woke af beanie-sporting hottie Daniel. However, once they finally get some alone time, things take a dark turn as Daniel keeps attempting to get a blowjob by literally pushing Leah's head down until she finally snaps and kicks him out of her room.
This later leads to a wider conversation about consent among the kids that is both insightful and hilarious, complete with Seinfeld references, neon pink-vomit and, best of all, a complete takedown of the language that the Daniels of the world use to justify their shitty behaviour:
"All I wanted was a blowjob at a high school party, is that such a crime?...If you're looking for someone to blame here, blame party culture...you're slut shaming me. Shame on you".
It would be hilarious in its audacity if it weren't so crushingly true to life. It's the kind of twisted, reverse logic that pops up in our Twitter feeds everyday - Daniels everywhere blaming women or the 'culture' for their own crappy actions rather than simply owning up to it.
Many educators have argued for consent to become a compulsory part of the sex education curriculum yet recent efforts in the UK were batted away, despite widespread public support. All the while, 1 in 3 young women have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school and, as the recent 'Me Too' hashtag showed, the issue is just as prevelant in later life.
So, while a Netflix cartoon full of dick jokes may seem an odd place to hold a discussion on consent, that is precisely why 'The Head Push' is so important. With a huge number of viewers of an impressionable age glued to the streaming service, an exploration of the topic in a non-patronising, entertaining, honest and attention-grabbing way is precisely what is needed. If the way to open up the conversation is to include a shot of the ghost of Prince performing cunnilingus on his guitar strings then so be it (yes, that happens. Yes, it's amazing).
Thankfully, the episode ends with Daniel getting kicked out of the party for his douchebaggery and being forced to walk home in his vomit-soaked beanie. We can only hope that thanks to shows like Big Mouth, the IRL Daniels of the world will soon be similarly shown the door.
Big Mouth Season 1 is streaming on Netflix now.
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