March 26, 2022

“Human Resources” is a Workplace Comedy with a Big Mouth (Review)

Google has decided that the genre of Netflix’s Human Resources, a spinoff of their hit animated series Big Mouth, is “ribaldry.” They don’t label it as a sitcom (which it absolutely is), and there’s no hint of it being an adult animated series. Their use of “ribaldry” is accurate, though — like its parent series, Human Resources is a foul-mouthed and indelicate series that explores the complexities of human emotions through their physical representations.

Image courtesy of Netflix

A spiritual successor to Big Mouth Season 5’s shattering of the fourth wall, Human Resources brings back many characters from Big Mouth, most of them monsters that influence and symbolize the feelings of the humans they’re assigned to. Human Resources isn’t so much about the humans, as its parent series is, but instead covers the interpersonal lives and relationships between the monsters, structuring itself as a more straightforward sitcom.

The returning cast from Big Mouth includes Nick Kroll (Sausage Party), Keke Palmer (Hustlers), David Thewlis (Harry Potter), Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids), Bobby Canavale (Will & Grace), Hugh Jackman (X-Men), Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), Thandiwe Newton (Westworld), and John Mulaney (Documentary Now!), with the new cast including Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat), Rosie Perez (Do the Right Thing), Tim Robinson (I Think You Should Leave) and many more; don’t even get me started on the guest stars. It’s highly impressive — though not entirely surprising — that Netflix was able to reunite nearly the entire Big Mouth cast. They play characters such as Hormone Monsters, Lovebugs, Addiction Angels and Ambition Gremlins, who do exactly what you imagine they’d do.

Image courtesy of Netflix

Though it’s an ensemble cast, our lead is definitely Emmy Fairfax (SNL’s Aidy Bryant), a Lovebug who is assigned to new mother Becca (Always Be My Maybe’s Ali Wong) after Emmy’s boss Sonya is mysteriously fired. With such a major new client, Emmy learns to navigate the world of the workplace while balancing relationships, dealing with depression and getting a taste of adult life. If it sounds like a story you’ve seen before, you have — but never quite like this.

Yes, Human Resources is a workplace comedy, but it’s still set in the world of Big Mouth, where creative ideas flourish and nearly everything is hilarious. There are different storylines for each episode, and life-applicable messages are more often than not the outcome of each of those storylines. The writing is incredible, summing up human experiences while also including ridiculous and fantastical storylines like a literal cockfight, a Hormone Monster pregnancy, the Shame Wizard’s visiting mother (voiced by Helen Mirren) and more that I couldn’t even begin to describe. Most of what happens is so inappropriate I can’t even write about it in this review, but that’s the brand that Big Mouth made for itself, so I appreciate that they’re sticking with it in Human Resources.

It’s another win for Netflix, and for Kroll’s ever-expanding animated universe. The series may be an unequivocal ribaldry and somewhat formulaic, but its self-awareness and never-ending engaging ideas make Human Resources both magically fascinating and endlessly relatable. It’s not quite on Big Mouth’s level, but I wouldn’t expect that from a debut season, and I could immerse myself in its world for many seasons to come.

Image courtesy of Netflix

Human Resources is now streaming on Netflix.

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