I think we all have traumatic memories of our middle and high school health classes. From scary videos about periods to abstinence talks and hearing horror stories about drunk driving or drug overdoses, most of what we were taught about growing up is to be afraid of literally everything. We learn about puberty as this massive problem we are about to experience and any conversation about our bodies or sexuality becomes forbidden or wrong. We are never told how emotionally devastating growing up can be and how much every part of our life changes as we go through middle school and high school.
I began watching "Big Mouth" when friends continuously mentioned how funny it was or made references to its storylines. After a few episodes, I realized how brilliantly it captured adolescent experiences. I found myself wondering what life would've been like had I learned some of the things it discusses earlier on. It approaches puberty and all of the issues that come with it as something normal to almost laugh about. It takes every horrifying experience possible from an adolescent standpoint and makes a joke out of it. But more than that it teaches things like consent, body positivity, and healthy understandings of sexuality.
The female characters teach the male characters about women's experiences growing up, explaining that girls shouldn't be objectified, or called "sluts", as they are more than their bodies. Women shame a male character who attempts to assault them, teaching younger characters what does and doesn't qualify as consent. The speed with which a normally happy and successful female character can turn to depressed and unhappy with her life and body is represented in several storylines. It is rarely discussed how emotionally damaging puberty is for teenage girls. This is the exact moment when women learn that they are objectified and considered less than their male peers. The show creates a platform for pre-teen feminism and shows mothers than encourage their daughters to think of themselves as more than their bodies or the fact that they are a girl.
As I continue to watch the show, I can't help but feel a need to show it to my 14-year-old sister, explaining that everything will be okay and not to let these difficult years destroy her. Every girl knows the pain of having her sexuality commented on, or being told the quality of her body. I want her to grow up with self-confidence, emotional stability, and an understanding of her body. I don't want her to live in uncertainty and fear over this complicated time in her life. I wish I could've laughed about what I went through at the time and that someone had taught me how normal all of it was. I wish I had been more comfortable with my body and secure in my identity. While the show really is an adult perspective of childhood experiences, it is a step in the right direction.