Big Mouth‘s Jason Mantzoukas Explains Why Jay Doesn’t Have a Hormone Monster and What’s Next in Season Four

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Jason Mantzoukas has had his hands on more than a few projects lately. He’s reprising his role of not-robot-not-man Derek Hoffstetler in the final season of The Good Place and continuing to crank out episodes of How Did This Get Made, a podcast breaking down some of the worst films in history. But as of late, his primary focus has been bringing the character of Jay Bilzerian to life on the animated series, Big Mouth.

Voicing the character in the first two seasons, Mantzoukas’s Jay has always been a bit more on the fringe and less of a focal point. Jay is a sex-crazed, pillow-screwing teenager who has trouble funneling his energy into, well, anything. Leading up to Season Two, the character has always been a bit of a lone wolf (who may or may not be on some form of biologically produced cocaine).

In Season Three, that narrative starts changing. Jay gets a whole storyline where he reckons with his sexuality, moves out of his toxic home and into the attic of his friend Nick’s house, and also he, um… fucks a turkey. (Jay’s words, not ours.) But as intense and wild as that sounds, none of it would be possible without the manically hilarious voice that Mantzoukas lends to the character.

Mantzoukas took time to talk with Esquire about Jay’s big season, what might be to come for the series, and why he’s happy about Jay being “a little less lonely” these days.

Esquire: Jay spends a lot of time alone, maybe more than any of the other characters. I mean, he literally got left behind this season in a house. He seems like he’s the one character being raised by all the things around him, as opposed to his parents.

Jason Mantzoukas: It’s been interesting. When the show started, there was a lot of discussion about who are all these characters. They had all of the actors come in to the writers’ room to talk about our own childhood. I remember pitching the idea that whenever Jay’s at home he’s just not wearing a shirt. They go into the house, and for some reason, they just never wear shirts at home. [Homes] like that have always been weird to me. That’s perfect for the chaotic nature of poor Jay’s childhood, where there is nobody saying, “Put a shirt on.” He is really involved in heartbreaking torturous relationships.

[Jay] really has nobody for himself, you know? So, he’s a little bit on the outsider. He’s not quite in the inner circle of Andrew and Nick and Jessi, in a way, even though he so desperately wants to be part of the gang. The stuff where Jay gets functional parents in Nick’s parents is, I think, really heartbreaking and very emotional.

ESQ: There’s also this generational thing of being raised by television, and this season, Jay really comes to terms with his sexuality via a Netflix show called Gordy’s Way. He’s this invention of whatever he can absorb around him.

JM: Truly. The show, obviously, began as an exploration of puberty and all this stuff that kids are going through: years of puberty, confusing and chaotic years of change. And here’s this kid who, you know, really doesn’t have any support at all. Like, there’s a scene in the first season where you realize that the person who’s taking, perhaps, the best care of Jay is his dog. It’s this crazy reveal.

ESQ: Absolutely.

JM: The idea that [Jay] would find, not just solace, but connection while seeing himself represented on a Netflix series, is wonderful.

ESQ: Speaking of him being alone, unless I’ve missed it, Jay doesn’t have a hormone monster yet.

JM: No, he does not. Jay is basically already operating from such an advanced point of view, vis a vis hormones and horniness. In the first season when Maurice is like, “this kid’s a genius,” it’s because Jay has already dialed in all of life’s great perversion.

ESQ: True. He did screw a turkey this season.

JM: Oh, my God. Yeah.

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ESQ: But ultimately, all of these stories feel true to life in one way or another. It’s kind of a “laugh now, think later” show.

JM: All of that tension and anxiety… I’m so glad they dig in on that. Anxiety is such a thing for children these days, let’s bring that up. Let’s have that be a part of it. The Shame Wizard, let’s have that be a part of this. All of these kind of new things for young kids of that age and generation.

ESQ: What do you hope happens with Jay that maybe you don’t already know? We left off at the beginning of summer break.

JM: What I like about the show is that it’s not moving fast, right? It’s not trying to influence people who are in middle school to college. The older I get, the faster time is moving. Like, summer used to last forever. There were so many pieces of summer—you know, ups and downs and you had a whole years worth of experiences in a summer. I love that the show is kind of allowing for time to move at that pace.

I’m excited for Jay, I guess, to be a little less lonely, you know? In other words, I guess, that’s along the lines… not a clever way to say it. But I’m excited for Jay to be less lonely.

ESQ: I agree that the series has time to breathe and that makes it better. And that works especially well since you all have been renewed for Seasons Four, Five, and Six.

JM: Oh, man. I wish I could even tell you some of the [Season] Four stuff. It’s so good. I’ve just recorded all of Season Four. I can’t remember what is Three and what is Four. I’ve been really genuinely so thrilled that there was all the things [for Jay]. Like, Jay tries to embrace his bisexuality, you know. I think there is a component of that which isn’t often represented on television. I love Jay for the kind of out of control, chaotic character he is, that’s cool with everybody.

I remember growing up with kids who seemed truly lost and without any kind of supervision. And for Jay to find a loving place for a while, and to have those [relationships with Nick’s parents], I just love that stuff.

Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture.