‘Big Mouth’: How Nick Kroll’s Own Childhood Inspired Several Seasons of the Netflix Series
Netflix recently released Big Mouth Season 4, the cartoon series co-created by Nick Kroll. Many of the stories about Big Mouth main characters Nick Birch and Andrew Glouberman stem from Kroll’s own experience with puberty — and his friendship with another series co-creator, Andrew Goldberg.
‘Big Mouth’ co-creator and cast member Nick Kroll pulled from childhood for his characters
The New York Times recently interviewed Big Mouth star Kroll. He doesn’t have everything in common with Nick on the show (just one of the several Big Mouth characters he voices) — but a lot.
Kroll grew up the youngest child on the east coast — “in Rye, N.Y., with three older siblings.”
“Kroll didn’t lack much growing up, either materially or emotionally. He was close with his family,” The Times reported. He and his best friend Goldberg played sports and got along fine, “until high school,” that is.
Like Nick on Big Mouth, Kroll was short for his age, “barely five feet tall” in his freshman year of high school. He did grow 10 inches over the next couple of years, but “the chapter of time spent undersized among larger males affected Kroll’s psyche the way a can of Raid affects an ant,” the paper argued.
It wasn’t just his height, but his relative tardiness to puberty in general.
The ‘Big Mouth’ Season 4 story inspired by Kroll’s experiences
“When you hit puberty in seventh or eighth grade and you’re super horny all of a sudden, it’s not expected that you have an outlet for it,” Kroll explained in the interview “But when you’re super horny in high school, there’s the possibility that there’s an outcome with another person.”
However, that didn’t turn out to be the case for the late-blooming Kroll.
“I spent a lot of high school having crushes on pretty girls who were my friends,” he told The New York Times. When he confessed his feelings for them, they would tell Kroll, “That’s very sweet.” But they mainly tended to prefer someone like a “lacrosse player with multiple concussions,” Kroll joked.
The season 4 story line — set at camp — is also inspired by Kroll’s real-life experiences. The Big Mouth star has been posting pictures from the summer camp on Instagram.
Kroll’s hormone monster
The Big Mouth writers’ room, then, is essentially 14 people who “talk in detail about the intimate anatomy of someone named Nick who was based on a real person named Nick who was sitting at the table and contributing to the discussion,” The New York Times reported.
Another, actual disease that contributed to Kroll’s painful adolescence: eczema. He’s had the skin condition since he was a child, and it “has gotten worse over time.”
Talking about eczema, Kroll was able to reach back to that awkward time — puberty — and remember the embarrassment. This “sense of helpless mortification is personified in the form of Hormone Monsters.”
Being a teenager — especially when you have a visible skin disease — can indeed be monstrous.
However, the idea for the Hormone Monster, while inspired by Kroll’s personal experience, was actually a great equalizer of the diverse cast of characters on Big Mouth.
“It spared no girl or boy or gender-nonconforming child,” The Times posited.
What Kroll learned from his fellow writers: “Every version of personhood came with its own set of problems — its own Hormone Monster.”
The various interpretations of each character’s distinct Hormone Monster are part of what make the show so creative — but also relatable for anyone who watches.