In Season 1, there was just a gay dude. In Season 2, one of the guys came out as bi. In Season 3, they added a pansexual character; In Season 4, a trans girl. And now, with the premiere of Big Mouth Season 5, we're beginning to find out that even the straight characters we thought we knew so well may turn out to be, well...not so straight after all.


Big Mouth Season 5 saw a continuation of the trend of cast expansion: The show was originally about just Nick, Andrew, Jessi, and sometimes Missy and Jay. The latter two, plus Matthew and Lola, have slowly become main characters as well, while new side characters have been introduced - and in this season, even some of those side characters, like Ali, got their own storylines.

Big mouth promo photo jay and lola
(Photo : Neflix)

This gradual increase in the depth and richness of the story's cast is particularly appropriate in this case because that's exactly what middle school feels like. You go in with the kids you knew in elementary, maybe even banding together with some kids you weren't as close with just because you happen to know them. Then slowly the kids you used to just chatter with in class are some of your best friends, and your friend circle gets bigger - and vastly more complicated.

However, there is another true-to life trend the show is following, and it's one that we're actually not used to seeing as much on TV: Every season, not only does the cast get bigger, it also gets gayer.

There's an old nugget of wisdom in the LGBTQ+ community: If your friend circle when you're a kid has one or two gay kids in it, there's a big chance that number is going to get bigger as you get older. (It holds true: One out of less than a dozen kids who were out as queer in middle school were in my friend group. Take a guess at how many of us were unconsciously closeted. I'll give you a hint: It was many.) It often takes the bold ones to start talking to their peers and showing them it's not so scary to come out of the closet to make the rest finally realize that it's what they want too.

Big mouth promo photo jay and matthew
(Photo : Neflix)

It also often happens when they start unexpectedly crushing on each other, which is exactly what happens between Jessi and Ali.

But I want to take a minute to slow down and really appreciate all of the unique LGBTQ+ characters the team at Big Mouth clearly worked hard to bring to life, because you'd normally only find representation like this in shows that were labeled as "Gay TV" from the beginning. So let's recap:

  • Matthew MacDell (Andrew Rannells) is gay - out, proud and loud from his first appearance on the show (well, except for his parents, but that was rectified last season in one of the most tearjerking episodes I've ever seen.)

  • Aiden (Zachary Quinto) is a gay character from another school that Matthew meets in Season 3. They broke up this season, and it's unclear if his character will reappear, but he was a cutie nonetheless.

  • Shannon Glaser (Jessica Chaffin), Jessi's mother, comes out as a lesbian in Season 2, kickstarting Jessi's initial plotline as she divorces her husband to be with the cantor from their temple, Dina Reznick.

  • Ali (Ali Wong) is pansexual, which she announced matter-of-factly on her first day after transferring to Bridgeton Middle. Big Mouth actually received some backlash for the way they handled the discussion of the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality, but they later apologized and promised to be more careful in the future.

  • Jay Bilzerian (Jason Mantzoukas) is bisexual - he first figures it out in the Season 2 episode "Smooch or Share," where he has to kiss Matthew in spin the bottle - and enjoys it. He is conflicted about this for a while, but when he sees Ali lauded for coming out as pansexual, he works up the courage to come out as bi as well. It's also weakly implied that Jay is polyamorous, as he seems to have no problem maintaining a relationship with both of his pillows at once - but whether that attitude is transferable to people is another question.

  • Jessi Glaser (Jessi Klein), who was previously only ever shown crushing on boys, enters into a relationship with Ali in Season 5, bringing her sexuality into question. She hasn't said whether she identifies as bi, pan, or another lesser-used moniker like omnisexual, but it's safe to say that she is DEFINITELY not straight - and if Judd's shirt is any indication, not a lesbian either.

  • Samira (Fran Gilesspie), originally a quiet wallflower of a character, began dating Ali in Season 3. She has never mentioned her sexuality by name, though the Big Mouth Wiki labels her as bisexual. She got her own storyline this season when Jessi broke up their relationship [sort of] by accident.

  • Natalie (Josie Totah) is a trans girl, joining the cast for three (totally amazing) episodes at the beginning of Season 4. Natalie isn't a regular character on the show, but fans are hoping she makes another appearance soon, as she was extremely well-written.

  • Andrew Glouberman (John Mulaney) was played mostly as straight for the first few seasons, with the exception of the episode "Am I Gay?" in which he hardcore thirsts after an action movie star, but ultimately kisses Nick and decides he's not. In Season 4, however, we start to see that those thoughts stuck around for Andrew, as he becomes extremely infatuated with Jessi's boyfriend Michelangelo. In Season 5, he takes this obsession to a new (frankly creepy) level with their substitute teacher, Mr. Keating, making it all too obvious that he has some bisexual feelings going on.

  • Charles Lu (Joel Kim Booster), one of the most popular boys in school, says he's straight after Jay asks him out in Season 3. However, this season, he kisses Jay on the lips outside a Panera, despite having a girlfriend, and pretends it never happened when they get back in school. Jay then becomes his "side piece." Though he's still closeted, he's definitely not straight.

  • Lena Foreman (Lena Waithe), Missy's cousin, is shown to be a lesbian in the Season 4 "Very Special 9-11 Episode" in an amusing scene where she code switches to chat with a cute girl immediately after bragging that she never code switches.

So, let's recap here: That's 11 LGBTQ+ characters total, five of whom are clear mainstays of the show. Conversely, the only main characters not to show overt queer leanings thus far are Nick, Missy, DeVon, and Lola, making for an incredibly even spread - and though it doesn't necessarily reflect what adults now may remember seeing in middle school, it does look a lot more like middle schools today - and, honestly is a much more real reflection of what puberty brings out. 

Big mouth promo photo the whole crew
(Photo : Neflix)

There are more bisexual and pansexual people out there than we think, because it's very clear that many, many of us simply go through life thinking a low-level background attraction to the same sex is normal, because nobody has ever told them otherwise. (That's exactly what it was like for me until I was 19, when somebody finally told me about the Kinsey Scale and changed my whole worldview.) The joy of watching Big Mouth is getting to see these kids be so open and free with their self discovery - making it an easier time for both them and other closeted kids around them in the process simply by normalizing it.

None of these kids - with the brief exception of Matthew, whose Mom is less-than-supportive about his coming out, and Charles, who is full-on incognito - are made to feel ashamed of their sexual orientation. (Other aspects of their sexuality, sure, but not what genders they're into.) Because if Big Mouth has taught us anything (and boy have they) it's that puberty is hard enough without piling more shame on top of it. 

So thank you, Big Mouth, for all the care and effort you put into representation - from all of us here at Enstarz (and, on a more personal note, from one proud bi gal who is happy to get to relive middle school vicariously through these crazy, awesome kids.)