‘Big Mouth’: An Ode to Lola, Season 4’s Groaning, Bossy, Vocal-Fry QueenDecember 10, 2020
Prior to “Big Mouth” Season 4, Lola was just another Nick Kroll to me. The crass class bully is one of at least 18 characters (!!) voiced by the series co-creator, and the whiny vocal fry he channels while playing this atypical mean girl does little to mask his typical “rich dick” schtick. Nor should it. Lola’s abrasive behavior is all the more intimidating (and hilarious) thanks to the furious baritone powering her point of view. Kroll is at one with Lola, just as he is with Maurice (the Hormone Monster) or Nick (who’s based on Kroll as a young boy).
Still, Lola rarely reached the glorious heights of those guys. She often felt like a necessary pseudo-antagonist for the show’s empathetic leads more than a flesh-and-blood child of her own (parents’) making. That is, until Season 4. Whether it’s Lola’s uniquely rich and terrifying backstory or her fateful romantic pairing with the acutely disturbing Jay (Jason Mantzoukas), Season 4 catapults the character into a spotlight she’s always felt belongs to her, and now she can truly own. No one should worship Lola quite like Jay does, but her arc this year definitely demands a little extra attention.
For the most part, Lola’s story is inextricable from Jay’s. The two connect at the public pool before a stray insult (“You’re on my Sturdy Under 30 list,” Jay says) causes a heated rift (“You’ll be the second person I’ve drowned!” Lola screams) and gets them both banned from the communal swimming hole. But soon, anger turns to passion, and the two form an unlikely power couple. Lola admires the forceful way Jay makes out, and Jay soon proves his original insult stems from genuine attraction. When the two decide to build their own pool in Jay’s backyard, he tells her, “You did most of the work babe — and with your feet, too, those strong little hooves.”
What’s both disgusting and beautiful about LoJ (pronounced “Low-Jay,” per their own “obvious” decision) is that they’re attracted to their partner’s true selves. This is perhaps best, and most distressingly, illustrated by the story Lola tells Jay about why she was held back in kindergarten. Promising it’s the “ultimate hilarity,” Lola recalls how one day, on the playground, she intentionally tripped a boy named Isaac, and he fell onto a metal spike that “pierced his skull.” Jay immediately bursts out laughing and asks, “Did he fucking die?” to which Lola responds, “Honestly, if I tell you, it won’t be as funny.”
Courtesy of Netflix
[Side note: While yes, this moment perfectly encapsulates the appalling nature of both children and why they belong together in the same way Bonnie and Clyde did — which serve as their telling couple’s Halloween costumes — it’s also worth noting that Isaac probably did die. Think about it. To your average Joe, an accident ceases being funny when someone is seriously hurt, but to Lola and Jay, they think it’s funny because Isaac was seriously hurt — so it only stands to reason that his recovery would ruin her “hilarious” story. This is… utterly demented behavior, and I definitely didn’t laugh multiple times while piecing together their twisted logic.]
But the couple’s outlandish bond is also sweet because they stick up for each other. When Lola’s friends tell her she has to break up with Jay because he’s an embarrassment, they instead decide to rule the 8th grade together. When Lola confesses that she’s older than Jay, he encourages her to take ownership of it. (“I’m older than I normally should be” is also just a great, great line.) When Jay receives terrible advice from his horrible brothers over how to best please his girlfriend, the couple listens to each other, learns from each other, and Jay “storms her castle” to completion. They’re never embarrassed for being who they are around each other, and — despite all the muddy toe sucking and debilitating physical violence — that’s pretty cool.
Eventually, the two combustible personalities do just that, and Season 4 ends with Jay leaving Lola because she didn’t say “I love you” back fast enough. It’s exactly the kind of stupid reason kids break up (“If you can’t say ‘I love you’ the second I do, then you don’t deserve me at all!” Jay shouts), as well as the emotionally rattling heartbreak neither character’s fragile ego is able to handle, but it also neatly wraps up Lola’s season-long arc.
One of the first questions Lola asks Jay is, “Are you lonely all the time?” Later, she says she’s scared to be alone in her house, which makes sense, given that she constantly talks about her parents’ broken marriage and its destructive side effects.
- “I think it’s best if we do what my parents did and divvy up our lotto tickets and move to separate parts of Yonkers,” she tells Jay during one of their early fights.
- “My mom took my allowance to pay for her boyfriend’s Invisalign,” she says when they need money for a date night.
- “If I wanted to be locked out of a house, I’d go home,” she says when they can’t get into a haunted house on Halloween.
[Side note No. 2: Lola’s mother reaches mythical status when Lola mentions how 9/11 is “triggering” for her because she knew someone who died in the attacks. “My mom’s ex-boyfriend died in 9/11,” Lola says. “Was he in one of the towers?” Jays asks. “No, he was flying one of the planes,” she says. “So… he was a pilot?” Jay asks, a faint glimmer of hope in his voice. “Kind of. Toward the end he was,” Lola says, putting the matter to rest / demanding a Mrs. Ugfuglio Skumpy origin story.]
Courtesy of Netflix
The point being, Lola is preconditioned to be leery toward love. It could be why she’s so focused on being the stereotypical woman, instead of her true, rowdy, intense self — “[Women are] not supposed to be strong and good at work,” she screams at Jay. “We’re supposed to be pretty and delicate, like big ol’ fake tits.” — but it’s definitely why she’s reticent to say, “I love you” back to Jay. She tells him as much in the finale, after she “lowers her emotional drawbridge” only to be rebuffed by her first-buffed boyfriend.
In this moment, two key developments happen. First, excitement builds over a potential seasons-spanning romantic saga between “Big Mouth’s” most fiery couple. Seeing Lola and Jay go to “warrrrrrrr” next season (as she promises they will) is more than enough reason to tune in by itself, but really, Lola’s moment is a reminder of how smart, nuanced, and well-made “Big Mouth” is from top to bottom.
The level of attention paid to such a tertiary character does wonders for the series overall. Lola isn’t even in every episode of Season 4. When she is, she’s carrying the B-plot at best, but sometimes it’s the C-story or even just a quick joke or two. And yet Kroll, along with co-creators and executive producers Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett, find ways to cement her autonomy and introduce multiple educational opportunities within her relatively minor arc. Lola deals with issues of abandonment, body image, and gendered double standards. She becomes more than that scary kid in class Nick and Andrew have to avoid; she becomes the boss bitch she’s always wanted to be.
During Episode 7, the apocalyptic fantasy where Nick Starr tries to flee an Earth that’s about to explode, an adult Lola — who spends her days scavenging for people to fuck and eat, “not necessarily in that order” — pleads with Nick to take her with him. As he rolls up the window to leave her behind, Lola screams, “I want to be the first chick to shit on the moon!”
Now, after Season 4, I believe she can.
“Big Mouth” Season 4 is streaming now on Netflix.
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