The Netfix animated comedy “Big Mouth,” from the beginning, has drawn true comedy greats together for some of the finest voice acting around — any show that can spotlight Maya Rudolph, Jason Mantzoukas, Jenny Slate, Fred Armisen, and Jordan Peele with plenty of room left over for an eclectic guest cast that includes Kristen Bell, Richard Kind, June Diane Raphael and more is to be admired.
Season 2 of the series about pre-teens in the literal grip of their hormones brought back those returning favorites alongside leads Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, and Jessi Klein. But in addition, some new blood was added that helped “Big Mouth’s” ensemble rival that of recent favorites like “BoJack Horseman” and true classics like “The Simpsons.” Below is a ranking of the season’s most outstanding new cast members, whose collective experience with prestige dramas and classical theater work was undoubtedly a help while singing about the cruder aspects of growing up.
[Editor’s note: The following contains mild spoilers for “Big Mouth” Season 2.]
6. John Gemberling (Tyler the Hormone Monster)
Perhaps best known as Abbi’s annoying roommate Bevers on “Broad City,” Gemberling (“Making History,” “Marry Me”) really leaned into the upper range of his register as flailing baby Hormone Monster Tyler, who did his best to help Nick but, much like Nick himself, wasn’t ready for that level of puberty just yet.
5. Bobby Cannavale (Gavin the Hormone Monster)
Gavin the Hormone Monster’s ‘roided up physique and attitude needed a tough guy edge, and thus Cannavale was one of two very welcome new entries in the season finale. The “Mr. Robot” and “Homecoming” star’s inherent macho swagger was perfectly implemented here, even if his promises of extreme adulthood might be a little more mature than what Nick’s ready for.
4. Andy Daly (Dr. Wendy Engle / Motel Pillow)
Anyone who’s listened to the prolific comedian’s Podcast Pilot Project knows that the star of the dearly departed “Review” has an amazing range when it comes to voice acting, so it’s hardly a surprise that he’s barely recognizable as two different roles in the Season 2 premiere. Perhaps playing an easily excitable doctor is within his wheelhouse, but as the skeezy motel pillow trying to coax Jay (Mantzoukas) into some inappropriate shenanigans, Daly really stands out as a chameleon.
3. Jean Smart (The Depression Kitty)
Jean Smart’s dulcet tones bring with them the comfort of Mom’s chicken noodle soup and a warm hug. So her casting as the Depression Kitty, who lulls Jessi into a numb stupor during the season finale, is all too believable. What’s so clever about her character, and her performance, is how they work together to capture the way depression can sneak up on you, the ways in which what seems like comfort can end up an almost smothering experience.
2. Gina Rodriguez (Gina)
The least outlandish of characters on this list, the Golden Globe-winning “Jane the Virgin” star brings a raw believability to her work as Gina. There’s a girl in every junior high school who’s the first to get her boobs, and “Big Mouth’s” focus on the ways in which this can be an ostracizing, difficult experience for the girl in question was a great counterpoint to some of the show’s other, dude-heavy storylines. Rodriguez proved more than capable of capturing all that angst, as Gina became a key lynchpin of the season. More Gina in Season 3, please.
1. David Thewlis (The Shame Wizard)
IndieWire’s Ben Travers has already praised Thewlis’ contribution to the new season, but it really can’t be understated how much the veteran British actor adds to the show. While the Shame Wizard is the main antagonist for much of the season, what’s powerful about the “Fargo” and “Harry Potter” star’s work isn’t his innate malevolence, but the seductive nature of his words, lulling these pre-teens into believing the worst about themselves. Whether tapping into his inner Ursula for a rousing musical number or revealing a more vulnerable side within the halls of the Department of Puberty, Thewlis is definitely the season’s all-star performer, and his involvement in the show’s future seems relatively essential. After all, young or old, shame never really vanishes.
BONUS: Nathan Fillion
Fillion technically appeared as himself in Season 1 as well, but only in one episode. Meanwhile, Season 2 really made the most out of his appearances in Missy’s fantasies, especially standing out during the sci-fi parody elements of Episode 5, “The Planned Parenthood Show.” Fillion’s willingness to play these moments reflects an enduring affection for his work on “Firefly,” off and on screen, which is a major factor in what’s maintained his status as a beloved fan icon. Another factor, of course, is that the man really knows how to deliver a punchline.
“Big Mouth” Season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.
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