The first season of Netflix’s “Human Resources” premiered on March 18 to the delight of loyal fans of “Big Mouth,” the series’ predecessor. While “Big Mouth” focuses on a group of teenagers going through the trials and tribulations of puberty (inspired by creators Nick Kroll and Andrew Golberg’s own teenage experiences), “Human Resources” follows the fantastical creatures sent to help these teenagers manage their emotions, introducing viewers to the whimsical alternate universe they inhabit. Featuring an entourage of Hormone Monsters, Lovebugs, Shame Wizards, Depression Kitties, Anxiety Mosquitos, Logic Rocks, and more, the first season of “Human Resources” deftly straddles the lines between crude humor and surprisingly touching and nuanced explorations of human emotion.
The familiar humor of “Big Mouth” is present in much of its spinoff, which is also built on plenty of raunchy jokes and catchy musical numbers. Fans of the former will recognize Hormone Monsters Connie (Maya Rudolph) and Maury (Nick Kroll), in addition to a few new returning characters, like Lovebugs Rochelle (Keke Palmer) and Walter (Brandon Kyle Goodman) who appeared in season five of “Big Mouth.” Viewers may also notice the absence of some beloved former writers and voice actors like John Mulaney (only making a small appearance in episode six), though this is quickly overshadowed by talented new additions like Aidy Bryant from “Saturday Night Live” and Randall Parc from “Fresh Off The Boat”.
The cast of “Human Resources” is also significantly more diverse than that of “Big Mouth,” showcasing a range of backgrounds and identities that undoubtedly inform the range of subject matter explored in the first season. There are more depictions of queerness, families and people of color, race relations, and immigration experiences. This perhaps aligns with what appears to be an attempt to broaden the current fanbase and expand the focus of the shows beyond the confines of puberty. Perhaps it was done to be aware of the missteps made with the cast of “Big Mouth” and the controversial this ensued when white actress Jenny Slate voiced Missy, one of the show’s only black teenage girls, before she was replaced by Ayo Edebiri in season four.
While “Human Resources,” like “Big Mouth,” spends a lot of time making jokes about sex with hormone monsters, it also contains several compelling stories about love and connection. Lovebugs Emmy (Aidy Bryant), Rochelle, and Walter help the humans they guide explore love in its many forms — from romantic to familial — as they navigate their own office romances, friendships, and relationship debacles. Although the humor of the first season is most often found in the characters of Rudolph and Kroll, the series is in full swing with its honest and touching depictions of love.
“Human Resources” is full of such stories, but two in particular take the cake: Lovebug Emmy’s relationship with her new mother Becca (Ali Wong) and Lovebug Walte’s with Yara (Nidah Barber), an elderly Lebanese woman with cancer. of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
In the former, Emmy helps Becca navigate motherhood on Earth as she is subsumed by postpartum depression, an initial struggle to connect with the baby, and marital issues. As Emmy tries to emotionally support Becca, the series delivers a candid portrait of the rather unglamorous sides of motherhood and the trauma that mothers’ bodies go through during childbirth. it avoids glorification and cheap comedic moments by analyzing the realities of new motherhood with striking honesty.
As Emmy and Becca navigate the beginnings of life, Lovebug Walter spends time with Yara at the end of his. Although part of Yara’s story focuses on her son’s struggle to cope, much of it examines what it means for her to live with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Memories of young love and past joy are woven into the script and juxtaposed with the confusion and anger often associated with Alzheimer’s disease, a moving choice for a humanizing, non-linear portrayal.
Perhaps a bit counterintuitive given “Big Mouth’s” penchant for nonstop crude humor, it’s those moments of love, loss, and humanity that are most rewarding in the first season of “HumanResources”. Viewers will be greeted with a candid yet humorous exploration of key life moments – from first love to marriage and birth to death – in this unique spin-off that is well worth watching.