Following pre-teen Andrew Glouberman and his friends as they navigate adolescence and their own bodies, the Netflix original series showcases all the traumatic and tantalizing ways that puberty affects boys and girls. To spice things up, the series created Hormone Monsters, furry manifestations of puberty's driving forces that instigate the kids to give into their hormonal urges.
It's explored everything from first periods to first boners, and in doing so, it's also created language to help prepubescent kids explain what they're going through. Now, when puberty rears its ugly head, they can say, "the Hormone Monster made me do it".
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Below are 10 times the show was relatable. While Andrew's burst into puberty jumpstarts the entire series, his best friend Nick is floundering in prepubescence. Small for his age, without any body hair, and with no signs of an onset vocal drop in sight, he feels doomed to be a little kid forever. Despite the fact that none of his friends are too excited about nocturnal emissions and boners at the most inopportune moments, Nick envies the fact that they're changing.
He feels like he's being left behind - that is, until he gets his very own Hormone Monster and the horror begins! Arguably the funniest and most effective plot devices on the show are the Hormone Monsters. Like a sudden hormonal flair up, they appear at the worst possible times, to instigate all sorts of chaos and mayhem that make their little pre-teen chargers miserable.
Maurice is the first Hormone Monster we see in Season 1 when Andrew is the first of his friends to hit puberty.
Once his friend Jessi gets her period, we see her Hormone Monstress Connie materialize and proceed to wreak havoc. Of all her peers, Missy is one of the most well-adjusted. She's been brought up in an open-minded, free-thinking, mixed-race household, with a mother who has always endeavored to make her feel beautiful exactly how she is. But the mirror has different ideas for Missy in Season 2, and who hasn't, despite their better judgment, hated the way they look at one time or another?
Missy becomes her own worst enemy, declaring that no one will ever be attracted to her because her body is so ugly. Sensing her hostility, her mom invites her and Jessi to a Korean Spa to take a look at dozens of other naked women, and celebrate what makes them all look uniquely beautiful. It's something both simultaneously longed for and dreaded by teenagers, but incredibly difficult to work up the nerve to do. The hormones are there, but the confidence is not.
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Nick kisses Jessi for the first time in Season 1, because sometimes a kiss between friends as "practice" is as good as one for true love? Andrew kisses Nick to see if he's gay. Jay does the same thing to Matthew in Season 2 and, it turns out, he may be a little. One of the challenges of growing up involves growing apart from your parents. The two figures in your life that have been there for you through your early stages of development are suddenly cramping your style.
As a teen, you're beginning to assert your independence in ways that their authoritative framework just won't allow. Nick hates being called "Nicky", and begins to feel highly uncomfortable around his parents sex-positive lifestyle given his friends' parents are so straight-laced. During our puberty years, when our hormones are raging and we're assaulted by imagery and situations that prove all kinds of stimulating, we may begin to question our sexual identity.
To whom are we attracted, and why? After a movie trailer starring The Rock leaves Andrew questioning his sexuality, he shares his first kiss with Nick to see if he gets stimulated. And while nothing happens for him, Jay shows he's not scared to kiss Matthew during a game of smooch and share, which makes him think he might be bisexual before that encounter, his pillows were a variety of "genders" he explored.
In the first few episodes of Season 1, we were already exposed to full frontal animated male nudity and bodily fluids, to name a few jarring things. Whether it's Andrew shamefully discovering he can't control his urge to touch himself, or Missy getting it on with her glow worm plushie until she feels all "tingly", or Jessi coping with starting her period, everyone can relate to the discomfort of new bodily fluids.
With pesky Hormone Monsters inspiring all the main characters to indulge in any activity that might be remotely sexually stimulating, it can be difficult for them to keep a grip on their uncontrollable teenage urges. Consider when Missy broke up with Andrew in Season 1, and Nick decided that would be a great time for them to watch their first porn. Or how about in Season 2 when Andrew spies Leah's bathing suit hanging up in the bathroom, and decides that imagining her inside of it would be good fuel for a wank fantasy?
No matter how ashamed we all felt at these urges, the point is we had them, and seeing them on the screen makes us feel slightly less alone in the embarrassment. Sometime during puberty, and for no reason at all, we got angry. Eyes-crossed, headache-inducing angry, and for things that in retrospect don't seem like that big of a deal. But to us, with little experience of the adult years that lay ahead, small problems represented giant hills to die on.
Take Jessi's transformation, when she gets her Hormone Monstress.
She suddenly yells at her mother for no reason and begins distantly calling her by her first name out of spite. Or take Andrew during the Valentine's Day Special, shrieking at Missy to give up the goods because he bought her a 5 pound giant gummy bear. The Shame Monster was a new manifestation in Season 2.
Whereas the antics of the Hormone Monsters could be awkwardly amusing, the Shame Monster was a much more malevolent entity, bringing only devastation in his wake. After an afternoon of drug-induced antics, she came home to face the consequences of her actions. Because the gummies were her father's, her mother throws him out, and Jessi feels like she's the one who ruined any possible chance of reconciliation between her parents.
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