“Big mouth” is an adult animation sitcom which is about the Jewish teenager daily life story in Westchester county, New York. The drawing style was very similar with “The Simpsons.” It was not my personal taste but number of my friends told me that the “Big Mouth” has similar laughing code and it was quite fun to watch. It looked like the author is trying to make fun some of the factors to reduce antisemitism. Anyway, the show does include some of the Jewish culture, but it does not include any of the Judaism as in spiritual. In some part, it was hard to understand because the monster pops out from nowhere any say random lines. However, it seems like, the monster represents the dark side from the deep of mind of the children. I, as a typical Asian, have learned Jewish culture and life in North America as a Jewish by watching this TV show and the show made me draw some picture, in my head, of Jewish daily life in North America. Although there might be some of the exaggeration to make some of the point fun, but there are number of things that are might be true. From the TV show, the cultural event and symbol, imagery, language and sound, and the stereotypes towards Jewish are the reasons why this show represents present days of Jewish identity of North America and the TV show turns those factors to comedy.
Firstly, “Big Mouth, season 1, Episode 9, was about the “Bat Mitzvah” for one of the main characters, Jessie. “Bat Mitzvah” is a Jewish ritual for girls who became 12 years old. This is extremely interesting because of its meaning. According to the Chabad.org, “‘Bat mitzvah’ is Hebrew for “daughter of commandment.” When a Jewish girl turns 12, she has all the rights and obligations of a Jewish adult, including the commandments of the Torah.” (Ross) In simple way, “Bat Mitzvah” is a coming-of-age ceremony. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Torah, in Judaism, in the broadest sense, the substance of divine revelation to Israel, the Jewish people: God’s revealed teaching or guidance for humankind. The meaning of “Torah” is often restricted to signify the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), also called the Law (or the Pentateuch, in Christianity).” (Encyclopedia Britannica) It is clear that “Bat Mitzvah” is a Jewish event, but it emphasizes that the Jewish life in North America. Although “Bat Mitzvah” is an event to celebrate one’s maturity, but it seems like Jessie does not want to be in part of “Bat Mitzvah.” In North America people usually celebrate “sweet sixteen,” and mostly do not celebrate come-of-age in religious way. Maybe the author might want to express this point to represent present days of Jewish in North America.
Secondly, another factor that this TV Show can represent present days of Jewish identity of North America because of language and sound that used in the TV Show. It is very hard to understand the TV show because of some Hebrew vocabularies and it’s the pronunciation. Not only the word “Bat Mitzvah,” but also there were number of the Hebrew were used, such as “Simcha,” “Rabbi,” “Aliyah,” “Yarmulke,” and “Mazel Tov.” It is quite similar with how American Korean sounds like. People who were born in America, they tend to mix some of the Korean words when they have conversation. Even though, it is unnecessary to add those Native language words in the sentence, but they do enjoy adding those words. Anyway, some of the characters in the “Big Mouth” also tend to speak some of the Hebrew during the conversation. after the “Bat Mitzvah,” Andrew says “Mazel Tov” (10:41) to Jessie, which he could’ve just said congratulation to her. Not only, the characters in the show speaks Hebrew, but also they still uses the some of the Hebrew words while they are speaking English. Furthermore, people who live in North America tend to lose the proper pronunciation of their origin language, but the contor makes ‘huch’ sound. It is obvious that the contor did not have to make ‘huch’ sound because everyone in the church was Jewish and even if she did not make ‘huch’ sound no one would say anything to her.
Thirdly, image in the TV show supports the idea that this TV show shows Jewish identity of North America. Symbols of Judaism and Jewish were in the episode. Such as Yarmulke, Star of David, Tallit are the major symbols of representing Jewish identity. However, in the episode, Contor and Rabbi in the Jewish temple is a Judaism way to call teacher and guide. Contor and Rabbi look like a teacher at church. Not only the Contor and Rabbi are the main image for represent Jewish culture symbols but also the most important thing was the location of “Bat Mitzvah.” Jessie’s “Bat Mitzvah” was held in Jewish temple. It was easy to distinguish that the location was Jewish Star of David was on the wall of a building. Additionally, boys were wearing the Yarmulke during the “Bat Mitzvah.” Yarmulke is one of the symbols of Jewish identity. Yarmulke is a hat that Jewish wear during the pray or mealtime. Also, wearing the tallit makes audience think the “Big Mouth” is a TV show represents present days of Jewish identity of North America. Tallit is a scarf look like thing that people put on their head or shoulder for special Jewish events. According to the research people do not wear yarmulke and tallit all the time. People wear them on special occasion or event. However, there is a point that make audiences to have stereotype to Jewish people. Huge number of people from Asia think that Jewish people are very conservative, and this episode make people think that they are right about Jewish people.
Lastly, in “Big Mouth,” the author makes fun of Stereotype of Jewish make another point that the TV show represents present days of Jewish in North America. There are tons of stereotypes towards Jewish people, but most of the common stereotypes are that Jewish are conservative, rich, and stingy. The author turned those stereotypes to a comedy in the TV show. Firstly, having Andrew and Missy break up might look like a stereotype towards Jewish. Although parents worry about their children being in relationship but most likely parents in North America tend to congratulate their children being in relationship, which looks very conservative parents. Secondly, Jew Fisherman is keep offering to the kids in the church, which represents that the stereotype of Jewish are conservative. According to the Jew In The City, “Sephardic communities did not adopt the practice of wearing a yarmulke to the same extent as Ashkenazic communities. Many observant Jews of Sephardic descent are only strict about wearing a yarmulke when eating and davening.” (Abramowitz) Not a surprisingly, the teenagers in the TV show did not wear yarmulke nor tallit until “Bat Mitzvah” are in middle of the service in the church or special event. This also represent present days of Jewish because they do not think that it is necessary to wear yarmulke or tallit all the time. Additionally, the background of the TV show look like a environment where rich people are living. Especially, The last stereotype that the author used was Jew Fisherman’s job before he retired. A ghost that follows Nick always talk about his agent for making a TV show. It looks like the author was making fun of the joke of Jewish owns most of the film making companies. All these stereotypes are made without any evidence but some people such as who grow up in Asian countries would might believe such a stereotype because most of them would never have a chance to see Jewish in their life.
To sum up, the “Big Mouth” seems like not the greatest TV show to watch because the TV show is using non-sense stereotypes as a comedy. When Jew fisherman was offering the yarmulke, the ghost who were following Nick, who is a main character, ask him, “Jew, can you even remember the name of my first single?” then the Jew repeats the question. “Do you boys need a yarmulke?” then the ghost says “oh, good, he still remembers some things.” Without any question, this is a making fun of Jewish music culture because Jewish song is mostly about tradition of Jewish or Judaism and Jewish culture. There might be more of the stereotypes, images, languages, and cultural factors that I have missed, but it obvious that the author is trying his/her best to turn those factors to comedy so that people have less antisemitism. Therefore, the “Big Mouth” contains a lot of Jewish culture, language, symbols, and made fun of stereotypes towards Jewish and it would be good example to learn Jewish culture.
- Chabad.org. “Bat Mitzvah: What It Is and How to Celebrate – Everything You Need to Know about Becoming a Bat Mitzvah.” Judaism, 8 Nov. 2012, https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1918218/jewish/Bat-Mitzvah-What-It-Is-and-How-to-Celebrate.htm.
- Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Torah.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 18 Sept. 2019, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Torah.
- Abramowitz, Jack. “Why Do Jewish Men Wear Yarmulkes (Kippahs)?” Jew in the City, 8 Feb. 2019, https://jewinthecity.com/2017/01/why-do-jewish-men-wear-yarmulkes-kippahs/.