Watching something at home on Valentine’s Day isn’t really a choice for several parents, but rather, a foregone conclusion born out of necessity. If you’re like me, it’s tough to get a babysitter on this particular night, meaning celebrating V-Day is mostly all about snuggling up with your partner for maybe an hour in between putting the kid to bed and falling asleep yourself. Which means, that 45-minutes-ish is precious temporal real estate. What should you watch? If you want some laughs and to feel some romantic warmth this year, you can’t do too much better than the Big Mouth Valentine’s Day special on Netflix; “My Furry Valentine.”
The animated comedy series about puberty — Big Mouth — is great for all the reasons any good comedy is great. It’s funny, intelligent, and unique enough to keep anyone with half a brain from wanting to die. Let’s face it: Most scripted sitcoms aren’t brilliant, and when they are occasionally poignant, it’s sometimes a struggle to invest in sitcom characters the way you invest in other kinds of TV fiction. Big Mouth doesn’t have this problem because half of its characters are monstrous embodiments raging hormones, things that are both poignant and relatable. And in the new Big Mouth Valentine’s Special, jokes about body chemistry colliding with actual romance all land brilliantly. I’ve argued before that Big Mouth is actually a sweet show that pretends to be raunchy, and that sense of tenderness is present in “My Furry Valentine” in spades. This isn’t a depressing takedown of Valentine’s Day, it’s just a realistic view of how it feels for teenagers to experience it.
But, the best part of “My Furry Valentine,” is perhaps its educational value. Who actually knows anything about the origin of Valentine’s Day? Yeah. That’s what I thought. Nobody. Luckily, this episode of Big Mouth will help you feel smarter than you actually are by jamming in a smattering of references to the origins of this deeply weird holiday. Case in point: When Missy (Jenny Slate) hands out her Valentines to her classmates, she makes references to St. Valentine secretly performing wedding ceremonies for people, which really happened. She also gets excited about “The first known Valentine… Composed in 1415!” This kind of stuff is great, not just because it makes us reach for our phones to Google random facts about Valentine’s Day, but because it imagines a world of curious teens who do, in fact, know a lot about history and the world around them.
In reality, all signs point to the next generation of teenagers being better informed and better prepared than any generation before them. On some level, an animated comedy like Big Mouth celebrates this fact, while also depicting puberty on Valentine’s Day as a huge challenge. For adults looking back fondly on their younger days, “My Furry Valentine” isn’t so much a cautionary tale, as it is a positive version of a funhouse mirror. In other words, you wish your adolescent Valentine’s Day was as hilarious as all of this.
Big Mouth’s “My Furry Valentine” is streaming now on Netflix.