human resources

Inner Monsters Have Issues Too in Netflix’s ‘Human Resources’

The 'Big Mouth' spinoff tackles office dynamics and adult emotions in its first season.

Netflix’s smash hit animated series Big Mouth is a hilariously filthy coming of age story that follows the struggles of adolescence. For five seasons we’ve watched the kids at Bridgeton Middle School deal with periods, masturbation, and puberty, guided by otherworldly creatures like Hormone Monsters, Shame Wizards, Lovebugs, and Anxiety Mosquitos. But where do these creatures come from? Enter Human Resources, Netflix’s spinoff which focuses on the magical world of these myriad emotional creatures.

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Human Resources focuses on the creatures we’ve already met, like Hormone Monsters Maury (Nick Kroll) and Connie (Maya Rudolph), Shame Wizard Lionel (David Thewlis), and Lovebugs Walter (Brandon Kyle Goodman), Sonya (Pamela Adlon), and Rochelle (Keke Palmer) while introducing all-new monsters to the mix. The result is an office comedy that is equal parts Big Mouth and The Office. But while Big Mouth focuses on its teens, Human Resources lets the monsters take center stage.

The series follows assistant Lovebug Emmy (Aidy Bryant) who finds herself promoted after Sonya gets fired. The inexperienced and immature Emmy is now in charge of being the Lovebug for expectant mother Becca (Ali Wong), and must work with Ambition Gremlin Petra (Rosie Perez) and Logic Rock Pete (Randall Park). But Emmy would rather get drunk and hook up with hunky Addiction Angel Dante (Hugh Jackman) than offer support to a post-partum Becca. The monsters also handle the emotions of other adults, which includes a poignant story about an older woman struggling with dementia.

But the human clients take a backseat to the drama of the monsters, who deal with unrequited crushes, betrayal, and heartbreak. While the monsters in Big Mouth were often agents of chaos, they still took a backseat to the kids’ narratives. For better or worse, Human Resources is all monsters all the time, with non-stop jokes about dicks, orgasms, role play, and butt stuff. Your mileage on this may vary, and as a viewer you may already know how much tolerance you have for an episode-long riff on the Rocky saga performed with sentient penises. Big Mouth often falls into the trap of beating its most popular characters into the ground, like Coach Steve or Rick the Hormone Monster (both voiced by Kroll), and Human Resources doubles down on assuming we’re invested in the relationship drama between Maury and Connie. But it’s the newer characters Like Pete and Emmy who end up being the most compelling.

Human Resources is at its best when it focuses on Earthbound drama, like Becca’s struggles with postpartum depression or a son’s grief over his ailing mother. While the humans are often at the whims of their emotional creatures, we see the creatures themselves succumbing to their own worst impulses and feelings. Before you realize it, Human Resources has added depth and layering to its creatures, giving them moving moments and emotional stakes with each other. It’s a tricky balance between these heartfelt moments and mile-a-minute dick jokes, and while the series sometimes struggles to strike the tone, it lands more often than not. Fans of Big Mouth will find a lot to love about this new series, which shows a lot of potential for future seasons.

Human Resources debuts on March 18 on Netflix.

(image: Netflix)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.