Photo: ‘Human Resources’
‘Human Resources,’ is a new spin-off series of the acclaimed animated adult-centered comedy show, ‘Big Mouth.’ Airing on Netflix, ‘Human Resources,’ tasks itself with delving deeper into the lives of the hormone monsters, creatures, and numerous other characters that are originally portrayed within ‘Big Mouth.’ ‘Human Resources,’ in the first episode, breaks the fourth wall and elaborates that the show was first pitched to executives as ‘Big Mouth,’ meets ‘The Office.’
This is an incredibly oversimplified statement but it still exemplifies the general format and plot of the show. The animated series can primarily be broken down into two parallel plot points. It follows the characters (monsters) in the Human Resources Department and their inter-workplace dynamics, as well as the personal interactions that they have with the humans that they supply emotions to. This series breaks the mold of its predecessor by following the monsters as the main characters rather than the coming of age students that defined the success of ‘Big Mouth.’
‘Human Resources’: A Series Geared More Towards Adults
‘Human Resources,’ primarily frames itself as a dramatic change from the main focus of attention of its original series, ‘Big Mouth.’ This being, first handedly, a shift from capturing the nuances and subtle humor of growing adolescents. ‘Big Mouth’ developed and tied much of its humor to the relatability that people shared with this adult-versioned, coming-of-age cartoon. Instead, ‘Human Resources’ drops all connection to children and their struggle through their pre-teen years, choosing solely to portray life and its existence through the eyes of grown adults. In its depiction of the workplace as well as branching out in order to show how these hormone/emotion monsters deal with grown humans, the show attempts to build off of the existing universe that ‘Big Mouth,’ can be credited with creating.
In its efforts to expand this existing realm as well as illustrate how adults, whether they be human or monster, fit into this fantastical world, ‘Human Resources,’ falls short of the humor and keen insight that the original show so masterfully crafted. Alternatively, ‘Human Resources,’ chooses to sub out this carefully thought-out dialogue and pristine story-telling for banal humor and countless tasteless jokes concerning genitalia. Sadly, in this spin-off aiming to elevate its standing by upgrading its focus and appeal to the likes of adults, it has in turn downgraded every aspect of the comedy that once made the original series great.
‘Human Resources’: How Does It Differentiate from Its Predecessor ‘Big Mouth?’
Even though ‘Human Resources,’ bases itself in the same universe as ‘Big Mouth,’ and utilizes many familiar characters to fans of the original series, it is essentially a completely different show. Not even the characters that were once the main stars of the original animated series are as highlighted or depicted as frequently. This is completely to the show’s own detriment. The new characters of ‘Human Resources,’ are not nearly as likable or relatable to the viewer. The main character of the spin-off, Emmy, an alcoholic “love bug,” provides no inspiring or redeeming qualities that audiences can connect or empathize with. It is almost as if continuing to observe her intentionally self-made issues on-screen serve as enough reason to stop watching the series altogether. When the episodes cut back to recognizable and favorable characters like Connie or Maury, both being well-meaning, but destructive “hormone monsters” that have inspired many laughs from the original series, Big Mouth,’ the viewer can once again appreciate the crude sense of humor that this adult-cartoon carries but that cannot and does not last.
Alas, this new series is aptly titled, ‘Human Resources,’ not “The Connie and Maury Show.” Without consent or desire the viewer is once again dragged in to tolerate the boredom-stricken dealings and dynamics of trite characters like a robotic-sounding HR rock-person falling in love with an albeit forgettable additional “love bug.” Even with the show’s somewhat reliance upon past popular characters, ‘Human Resources,’ seems to forget exactly what made ‘Big Mouth,’ so well-received and positively rated among critics and fans alike. By basing itself mainly upon unrelatable monsters that have less than an inkling of commonalities with real people, the show sheds the best part of what made ‘Big Mouth,’ so hilarious. That hilarity was inspired foremost by the shared attributes and visible relation that viewers shared with the growing teenagers on-screen. These adolescents, as one can now clearly see, were the stars of the show, and a series based without them, is not one that inspires many laughs at all.
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‘Human Resources’: Does It Live Up to The Humor and Comedy of The Original Series That It Was Inspired By?
‘Human Resources,’ unfortunately does not live up to the former glory of its predecessor ‘Big Mouth.’ While there are times when the occasional joke will land, most of the writing and wit are uninspired and rely upon overt vulgarity in order to garner a laugh. Most of the jokes, either are too obscure for the viewer to understand or they depend on a shock factor to entertain the audience. The characters are unlikable and mostly uninteresting, leaving no protagonist or troubled hero for the viewer to become invested within.
This sadly, is completely contradictory to the original series which had countless characters, each who grew upon audiences and forced them to not only understand them but eventually root for their personal success and happiness. ‘Human Resources,’ does quite the opposite. Even by giving some of the initially disliked characters time to grow, the plot never quite convinces the viewer of their “humanity.” The fact that they are monsters is always apparent and their decisions and motivations remain utterly alien to the viewer.
‘Human Resources,’ which clearly rides off of the success of its parent series, ‘Big Mouth,’ features a number of big-name actors and stars. Famous actors and actresses featured in ‘Human Resources,’ include Hellen Mirren and Hugh Jackman, who hold small parts in the new series. Although, these roles seem to exist in a similar realm to cameos where word of mouth was intentionally used to bolster the initial views and public reception of the show.
Neither of these actors have an important role and the jokes they are included in do not enhance or improve the storyline in any way, whether they include Hugh Jackman, Helen Mirren, or any other actor/actress in the world. The use of star power has no relevance in making this animated series any better and for that matter, it does not. The failure of this show to adequately utilize the academy-award-worthy acting that it featured is another reason that highlights the overall disappointment and lack of comedy and laughter that was all but promised from the creators of such a hilarious series like ‘Big Mouth.’
Cast: Pamela Adlon, Helen Mirren, Lupita Nyong’o, Hugh Jackman, Bobby Cannavale, Thandiwe Newton, Keke Palmer, Ali Wong, David Thewlis, Jemaine Clement, Nick Kroll, Harvey Guillén, Maya Rudolph, Henry Winkler, Randall Park, Rosie Perez
Editor: Joanna Naugle
By Thomas Jacobs
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Thomas Jacobs is an avid writer, Cinema aficionado, and filmmaker. He graduated with Dean’s Honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a major in Film and Digital Media. His passion is directly tied to the appreciation and creation of film and television, and this fact is reflected in his intent to be a writer for the acclaimed entertainment journal, The Hollywood Insider. His beliefs mirror the core goals and mission statement of The Hollywood Insider by sharing an admiration for quality entertainment as well as bolstering a sense of positivity and equality among all humans. Thomas believes that Cinema is an advantageous promoter of civil and social empowerment, and he shares a mutual societal view with The Hollywood Insider, that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.