‘Big Mouth’ Is Just One Of The Boundary-Defying Shows Now Streaming
Netflix’s half-hour edgy adult animated comedy Big Mouth helms from real-life best friends Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg and focuses on the glorious nightmare that is teenage puberty and sexuality. To address those awkward teenage years, the series relies on sleazy, over-the-top graphic humor and visuals.
Big Mouth is in an exclusive group of TV shows, such as fellow Netflix animated series F Is for Family or the dark live-action comedy The End of the F***ing World, that is unafraid to push boundaries. In honor of the shows that elevate small screen storytelling, we gathered a few of our favorite series that are not afraid to challenge their audiences or television norms.
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This beloved Canadian comedy currently streaming on Netflix is about a wealthy family forced to face their newfound poverty head-on. It's full of laughter, tears, and inclusivity. For example, gay relationships are treated the same as society has seen straight relationships showcased historically, providing a natural insight into queer culture through the show's lens. Pansexuality, rarely explored onscreen, is represented through co-creator Dan Levy's character who is not defined by his sexual orientation; it's simply a part of who he is.
Netflix's newest comedy-drama stars Asa Butterfield as a teenager with a sex-therapist mother (Gillian Anderson) who starts an underground sex therapy clinic at school. The show is equal amounts hilarious, heartwarming, and heartbreaking as it explores sexuality, LGBTQ relationships, homophobia, bullying, sexual harassment, abortion, and complex parent-child relationships. Three-dimensional and flawed characters struggling with growing up, expressing their true selves, and navigating the complicated world of sex and high school peels back the show's very unapologetic layers.
This Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning FX series is a genre-bending show starring and created by award-winner Donald Glover. As Earn (Glover) and his cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) try to make their way up in the world through the rap scene, Atlanta explores social and economic issues touching on race, relationships, poverty, status, and parenthood. Instead of relying on familiar half-hour comedy tropes, Atlanta upends them in a matter-of-fact style, defying television norms in edgy, unforgettable ways.
Syfy's new series, based on the comics by Rick Remender, is a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of late 1980s counterculture. The catch? The main character, Marcus, is a teenager recruited off of the streets into a storied high school for assassins.
As outcast teenagers with disturbing childhoods strive for a sense of normalcy, the students are constantly surrounded by violence and death. The storytelling elevates not only in writing and performance but in its unparalleled visuals, including graphic flashback scenes revealed through animation sequences. The show continues to challenge TV norms not just through its diverse cast, but by highlighting domestic violence, abuse, sexual abuse, consent issues, drug use, grief, trauma, the weight of morality and more without ignoring the impact these themes have on the young characters.
Set in the 1980s, Ryan Murphy's Pose stars the largest transgender cast of series regulars ever. Taking place in New York City highlighting the underground ballroom scene, the FX series brings representation front and center, giving life to characters normally marginalized in television, including POC, immigrants, transgenders, and queer people.
Additionally, Murphy sought out authentic voices involved in the ballroom scene and members of the LGBTQ community to consult on the show. The creator, doubling-down on his efforts to bring visibility to the screen and shining a light on the community, is also donating all of his profits from the series to trans and LGBTQ charitable organizations.
'The Good Place'
The Golden Globe-nominated series starring Kristen Bell takes a personal look at morality and the meaning of life. The fantasy comedy-drama invites the audience to follow the emotional arc of the characters as they struggle with what it means to be good. The show subverts expectations while furthering the ensemble's character growth, thriving on chaos and philosophical explorations of good. The series is also open to representation. Bell's character, Eleanor, is confirmed as bisexual in Season 3 in an effortless, casual way, normalizing her queer identity as another part of her and not what defines her.
'Grace and Frankie'
After finding out that their husbands are not just work partners but have also been romantically involved for the last 20 years, two women (Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin) with an already strained relationship try to cope with the circumstances together. The Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated series features a fresh and innovative take on sexuality in older women, feminist issues related to aging, and the right to die (in women's continued struggle to maintain control over their bodies), female companionship, and (some) elder LGBTQ issues. The characters are far more complex than the tropes you would normally see on television, which is part of what makes the series so good.
Throughout its nine seasons on Showtime, the Emmy Award-winning series has aggressively highlighted a number of topics shows before its time tended to steer clear from. Alcoholism, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, abortion, suicide, mental health issues, broken families, gay relationships, sexuality, interracial couples, poverty, love, grief -- none of it is shied away from in Shameless.