With its squirm-inducing take on puberty — the bodily changes, mood swings and sexual curiosity — the Netflix series “Big Mouth” can be shockingly dirty.
“But beneath that is a show that’s trying to talk about really important lessons,” said Nick Kroll, one of its stars and creators. “Something that adults would enjoy but also that kids could watch and feel like they’re not traversing this incredibly tricky time alone.”
“Big Mouth” reimagines the puberty of the real-life besties Andrew Goldberg, an early bloomer, and Mr. Kroll, a very late one, as they’re guided by the demonic Hormone Monster (voiced by Mr. Kroll) and Monstress (Maya Rudolph). No one escapes unscathed: Among the tales of teenage terror are the night that Andrew (John Mulaney) ejaculates while slow-dancing with a girl and the day Jessi (Jessi Klein) gets her period during a class trip to the Statue of Liberty — in white shorts, no less.
In a call from Buenos Aires, where he is shooting Chris Weitz’s “Operation Finale,” about the hunt for Adolf Eichmann, Mr. Kroll discussed some of his own coming-of-age embarrassments. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
What’s your most humiliating puberty story?
I got “pantsed” in seventh grade. But my underwear came down as well, and my penis was exposed to the girl that I had my crush on. I hadn’t hit puberty, so it was a bald little cashew. That definitely had a lasting effect.
You’ve called this the most autobiographical of all your shows.
So many of the feelings and emotions that I was going through at 12 and 13 have become the DNA of the rest of my life. I’ve been in therapy for a long time and found that things I was talking about I would then use in building the character of Nick, and vice versa.
When did you start puberty?
I got my first pubic hair when I was going into high school, so about 14-ish. I was very small and gregarious and, I think, a likable kid. Then when I hit puberty, I became much more temperamental and explosive, and my parents were taken aback. I also grew probably 10 inches in high school, to a strapping 140 pounds.