Last month, “Big Mouth,” the Netflix animated show about puberty based on the childhoods of Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg, returned in all its hilarious, awkward teenage glory for season five.
As I’m sure most of you know by now, “Big Mouth” follows Nick (Nick Kroll), Andrew (John Mulaney), Jessi (Jessi Klein), Jay (Jason Mantzoukas), Missy (now voiced by the incredible Ayo Edebiri) and Ali (voiced by Ali Wong) as they navigate puberty. Along for the ride, and offering sometimes questionable advice, are their Hormone Monsters (Maury, Rick, Connie and Mona, voiced fabulously by Nick Kroll, Maya Rudolph and Thandie Newton, respectively).
With season four’s perfect opening at a Jewy summer camp (complete with the added Jewishness of Seth Rogen as Nick’s camp best friend Seth Goldberg) and the emotional funeral of Andrew’s zayde (may his memory be a blessing), it seemed almost impossible that “Big Mouth” could get any more Jewish.
And yet, with the help of Seinfeld and a new addition to the canon of TV Hanukkah episodes, “Big Mouth” season five found a way. Read on for our ranking leading up to the funniest Jewish joke of the season:
We would be remiss if we didn’t talk about Jay’s penis. (What a sentence.)
In the second episode of the season, “The Shane Lizard Rises,” the Shame Wizard returns to wreak havoc on the kids’ self-esteem during swim class. Lola directs everyone’s attention away from her camel-toe by revealing that Jay has not been circumcised. Though the moment in and of itself is not in relation to a Jewish character, it’s my opinion that anything circumcision related is firmly in Jewish territory. Plus, the joke recurs multiple times across the season — like later in episode two when Jay shows Andrew his “uncut dick” (with consent, of course):
And in episode seven, when Lola sends a video to the entire school in which Jay breaks the magician’s code and tells her how he makes cards disappear:
All right, on to the jokes!
12. Return of the “Seinfeld parody” (Episode one)
“No Nut November” isn’t the first time “Big Mouth” has done “Seinfeld” (see season one), but it sure is the best tribute yet! In the first episode, Nick, Andrew, Jessi and Jay decide to wager a granola bar to see who can go the longest without masturbating — much like the Seinfeld episode “The Contest.”
While #NoNutNovember was certainly not a thing when Seinfeld was on air, combining the juvenile fad with an homage to a Jewish comedy great who did something like it first sets a great tone for the rest of the season — and spawns some other great moments, like Maury teaching Andrew about edging via a seminar at the LaGuardia Radisson. Also, Nick’s “Doubt”-inspired wet dream which includes this line:
This line absolutely spoke to my very basic understanding of communion (despite my Christian father), and I’m sure other Jewish viewers felt this way too. (Sorry, Dad!)
11. The other Bernie Sanders (Episode nine)
I love a Bernie Sanders joke. In my book, they are perfect, A+, no notes. So, in episode nine, when Andrew goes skiing in Vermont with the Birches and meets a girl named Bernie Sanders, I was absolutely delighted. The rhetoric and delivery of the joke are both simple, but pack enough punch for a good laugh.
10. Mary, the horny Jewish tween (Episode seven)
There’s a lot to love in episode seven, “A Very Big Mouth Christmas,” and don’t worry, I’ll get to all of it! But for now, let’s talk the reinvention of Mary, Jesus’ mom. In the “Big Mouth” retelling of the biblical Christmas story, Mary is described as “horny Jewish tween,” which made me laugh for its uncomfortable truth.
Hearing the joke reminded me of the moment in school when I read “Romeo and Juliet” and realized that Juliet is actually 14. After some quick googling, I realized that “Big Mouth” is, as usual, pretty spot on — according to Wikipedia, Mary was 11-12 at the time she married Joseph. So that’s gross! Good thing she was notably a virgin, I guess?
Anyway, it’s also always a fun reminder to see something for which Jews are notorious in action: reminding anyone and everyone who will listen that Jesus and his family were Jewish.
9. Lots and lots of Yiddish (Multiple episodes)
As always, “Big Mouth” is absolutely littered with Yiddish words and phrases — and not just the most obvious ones.
Yes, of course, they use words like “tuchus” and exclamations like “Oy gevalt,” but in episode one, when discussing his near-obsessive masturbation habit, Andrew uses the word “schnook”:
And in the Christmas episode (again, don’t worry, we’ll get to it!), Marty Glouberman calls his son a “schmendrick,” saying, “Andrew! Put down your phone, you schmendrick!”
The way that “Big Mouth” uses Yiddish feels authentic because 1) it’s not just the same few words being recycled over and over and 2) because it’s teaching me how many different ways there are to say “fool” in Yiddish. And I think that’s beautiful.
8. Honey Jew-Jew (Episode five)
When Jessi finds out that her dad’s girlfriend Caitlin is pregnant and realizes that her parents are truly never getting back together, she runs over to Ali’s house for comfort. She tearfully explains the situation to her bestie (and crush!!) which prompts Ali to say, “Oh, honey Jew-Jew.”
It’s a line that you might miss if you aren’t listening carefully, but is just so silly and delightful if you do get it. Plus, it adds an element of Jewishness to Honey Boo Boo, the former child beauty pageant contestant, which I previously thought was absolutely impossible.
7. Holocaust humor (Multiple episodes)
Any good comedy writer knows that comedy equals tragedy plus time. But even 80 years out, it’s still hard to make jokes that use the Holocaust as a framework. That said, “Big Mouth,” a show overflowing with Jewish execs, writers and actors, excels at making Holocaust jokes.
My personal favorite of the lot is when Missy discovers that she has “backne” and asks “Is it bad?” To which the Shame Wizard comes in to reply, “Well that depends. Do you think the Holocaust was bad?”
Not only does this joke emphasize the very big and sometimes out-of-proportion emotions tweens feel about their bodies, but we also get a little bit more background on Missy’s Jewish identity — which, although tragic, ultimately deepens Missy’s character.
Another good Holocaust reference comes in the first episode when Jessi, Andrew and Nick gather at the Birch home to watch an extremely unsexy movie and not masturbate. When Andrew arrives, he asks, “So, everybody make it through dinner without cumming?” To which Jessi aptly retorts:
In an episode entirely framed around “Seinfeld,” this joke reinvents the idea of a Soup Nazi and replaces it with a Cum Nazi, a vivid mental image that I find absolutely hilarious.
And of course, I have to mention the moment when Andrew, in search of Nick, finds himself in the Hate Division of the Hormone Monsters’ world. Almost immediately upon entering, Andrew is hailed as a celebrity and runs into Hitler, who says:
“Oh, remember when he went to the Nazi meeting?”
6. Broad City on Ice (Episode nine)
On the flight to the Birches’ ski vacation in Vermont, Nick’s older sister Leah and her boyfriend Val Bilzerian discuss the fun vacation things they want to do together, including ice skating. This prompts Elliot Birch to reveal that in the “Big Mouth” universe, “Broad City” on Ice exists.
Astounding. Incredible. Groundbreaking. Abbi and Ilana, can you hear me? This needs to happen IMMEDIATELY and I am 100% not joking.
5. RBG action figure (Episode five)
In season 5, Nick has one helluva crush on his friend Jessi. So much so that in episode five, he brings her a token of his affection: a Ruth Bader Ginsburg action figure that PLANKS.
This joke perfectly parodies some of the absolutely wild RBG paraphernalia that exists in the world (see: the inexplicable phenomena of putting RBG on Christmas cards), and gave me a hearty laugh. The only downside to this planking RBG action figure is that it’s so ridiculous that I absolutely want one.
4. Rosh Hashanah (Episode 10)
My only complaint about season 5 of “Big Mouth” is that there wasn’t enough Coach Steve. That said, the few and far between lines he had this season were almost all winners. My favorite of all the new Coach Steve-isms, however, comes in the last episode. As the season draws to a close, all the kids from Bridgeton Middle School gather for a New Year’s Eve party DJ’ed by Steve. As the clock winds down on the previous year, Steve announces in earnest, “All right, folks, we’re ten seconds away from Rosh Hashanah!”
It’s a classic Coach Steve joke and further develops the weird, weird interior world that this character inhabits. Which I adore.
3. The Glouberman way (Episode five)
Even in death, Andrew’s zayde brings us more incredible Jewish content this season.
In case you missed it, last season Zayde Glouberman passed away. The narrative of season five, episode five follows the Gloubermans’ first Thanksgiving without him. This includes a funny and historical sequence in which Marty reveals his family secret for making a delicious turkey.
Marty: “You’ve got to insult it! That’s what keeps the juices in. I learned that trick from my father, and he learned it from his father. That’s the Glouberman way! I remember, every Thanksgiving, my dad standing over the worthless bird.”
Flashback to Marty Glouberman as a child, watching his father basting a turkey.
Marty’s father: “You stupid turkey! My family is going to eat you and then shit you out because you are nothing!”
Adult Marty, narrating: “And before him was my Zayde Shlomo.”
Flashback to Marty’s father as a child, watching Zayde Shlomo basting a street pigeon.
Adult Marty, continued: “You see, in the Depression, all he had was a street pigeon, but he would berate it until it tasted like a turkey.”
Zayde Shlomo: “You stupid pigeon, you’re a repulsive bird. You’re a rat with wings, that’s all you are.”
Flashback to Zayde Shlomo as a child, watching great Zayde Chaim basting a cabbage.
Adult Marty, still narrating: “And who can forget my great Zayde Chaim in the shtetl? There was no fowl of any sort!”
Zayde Chaim: “You shmegegge cabbage! God wouldn’t even grant you the honor of being a lettuce!”
Though I’m sure no one was basting cabbage for American Thanksgiving in the shtetl, this flashback is a cute and comedic way to think about the Jewish American experience on traditionally American holidays. Plus, at the end of the episode, we learn a little bit more about Andrew’s zayde with this throwaway line:
2. Little Cummer Boy (Episode eight)
You’ve been patient, so now we can finally talk about “A Very Big Mouth Christmas.” Yay!
Basically, the episode is broken up into small vignettes for each main character which focuses on how they celebrate the holidays. In “Little Cummer Boy,” we see Andrew celebrating Hanukkah with his family, only to wish upon a pube that he could be Christian, as he thinks celebrating Christmas would be much more fun. The next morning, Andrew wakes up to find that he and his parents have transformed into the WASP-iest of WASPs and together they celebrate Christmas. It’s all fun and games for Andrew until he tries to masturbate before bed and a crucifix on his wall sends him to hell.
Of course, Andrew ultimately wakes up in a cold sweat to find that it was all just a dream. He needs to be absolutely sure, however — which leads to this interaction:
As a Jew from an interfaith household, I absolutely related to the “Big Mouth” Hanukkah story. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hanukkah, but in my experience, it’s not the same kind of festive fun that comes with Christmas. Taking that idea and running with it creates a Hanukkah TV episode that is unlike any I have ever seen before.
1. Baby Beanie Beanie Baby (Episode nine)
I rarely starting wheezing from laughter, but the Baby Beanie Beanie Baby gag in episode nine had me choking for air, hence its top spot on this list.
In episode nine, we meet Bonnie, Hormone Monstress to Nick’s older sister Leah — who also happens to be twins with Connie the Hormone Monstress. Connie and Leah are chatting as they plan for the family ski trip when Bonnie arrives to warn her sister that Maury, Andrew’s Hormone Monster, will also be on the trip.
The audience immediately gets the sense that Bonnie doesn’t like Maury, and from there comes the Baby Beanie Beanie Baby exchange.
Everything about this joke is perfect: the concept of a Baby Beanie Feldstein Beanie Baby, the writing (which repeats it over and over again), and Maya Rudolph’s incredible execution of the lines. Plus, the scene is punctuated by Connie’s line, “Well, this is not the Jonah Hill I will die on.”
As “Big Mouth” has already been renewed for a sixth season, I simply can’t wait to see what Jewish jokes they come up with next!