Netflix’s new series “Human Resources” is the hilarious adult animated spinoff of the wildly popular series “Big Mouth,” a show about the raunchy rites of puberty that plague preteens in the form of Hormone Monsters and Shame Demons. “Human Resources” expands this universe by shifting the spotlight to the monsters while continuing the trend of sophomoric humor, expository musical numbers, and an impressive lineup of voiceover cameos that have made “Big Mouth” a fan-favorite. But the show really shines when the employees leave the office and spend time on Earth with their human clients, navigating all of the emotions college admissions, marriage, careers, parenthood, and adulting throw at them.
It just takes a while to get there.
“Human Resources” lures “Big Mouth” fans in with familiar characters like Hormone Monsters Maury (Nick Kroll) and Connie (Maya Rudolph), and Lionel the Shame Wizard (David Thewlis). Then, we’re introduced to a slew of new monsters like Need Demons, a Grief Monster, and a reappearing Spaghetti Demon with no lines or purpose.
Season 1 of the show centers around Junior Lovebug Emmy (Aidy Bryant), who gets her first assignment when forced to take over Lovebug Sonya’s accounts after she’s fired. Emmy’s first case is with Becca (Ali Wong), a lawyer on maternity leave who is anxious about becoming a new mother.
Unfortunately, Emmy is not great at her job. She almost ruins it completely when she shows up in Becca’s bathroom drunk, just in time for Becca’s water to break. That’s when her coworker, Lovebug Walter (Brandon Kyle Goodman) takes Emmy under his wing and attempts to teach her the basics of human love. Other anthropomorphic emotions such as Pete the Logic Rock (Randall Park) and Petra the Ambition Gremlin (Rosie Perez) weigh in on her choices as the Junior Lovebug falters.
Where “Big Mouth” might have fumbled its early attempts at authentic diversity and meaningful storytelling, “Human Resources” shines right out of the gate. Wong, who voiced controversial pansexual teen transfer student Ali in “Big Mouth” Season 3, brings depth to her role as overachieving Chinese American mom Becca.
The show also introduces a more authentic New York setting with more women and queer characters than its predecessor. Like high school senior Nadia (Sabrina Jalees), who lives at home with three generations of her Lebanese American family while she decides between attending college with her girlfriend or moving away to follow her dream school.
The creative team also knows its audience and makes excellent use of its voice cast. Perez’s pantsuit-wearing Petra is spot-on as the stressed-out Ambitious Demon trying to get Becca back to work and Nadia into Berkeley. Emmy is addicted to her philandering triple endowed boyfriend Dante the Addiction Angel, hilariously played by Hugh Jackman. Keke Palmer finally gets to flex her comedic, acting, and singing chops in her role as Rochelle the Lovebug. And no one could have shamed Lionel more than his mother, Shame Wizard Rita St. Swithens deliciously played by Helen Mirren.
One of the most powerful episodes of the season is “The Light,” featuring the incomparable Janelle Monáe as Becca’s doula Claudia who falls for Sonya. Although their love is forbidden (humans and monsters can’t be together without dire consequences), they try to make it work. It’s a beautiful love story infused with a lesson about neurodivergence and acceptance.
If you’re looking for “Big Mouth” cameos from the human side of the portal, you will have to wait a bit — but rest assured they do happen.
Unlike Andrew, “Human Resources” takes a long time to get going. The series starts with familiar monsters Maury and Connie, then quickly shoves them out of the way to introduce Emmy’s avoidance issues. As a result, we spend a lot of time waiting for Emmy to connect with, well, anyone other than herself, which is time that could have been spent fleshing out different characters.
If you’ve never seen “Big Mouth”, some of the humor may be lost on you, but if you’ve been waiting for this show since it was announced in 2019, then “Human Resources” does not disappoint.
Just be patient.
The first season of “Human Resources” is now streaming on Netflix.
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