by Netflix Big mouth spinoff sees the emotional monsters of the animated universe in a work environment as they manage the human “clients” they are assigned to. Whereas Big mouth focuses on the nightmares of puberty, Human ressources tackles the full span of human life from birth to death – and this scene dives into the latter, with Amir and his daughter Natalie coping with the loss of Amir’s mother, Yara. Also on Yara’s deathbed is her lover Walter, the personification of that emotion. Showrunner Kelly Galuska notes how the scene balances emotional weight and irreverent comedy at the heart of the series.
“We really wanted the show to be all about the human experience,” says Galuska. While the HR offices are in the tri-state area, it was important to Galuska that the show depict “how people do things in other parts of the world”. Writer Mitra Jouhari, who is Iranian-American, was vital to this script, as was comedian Sabrina Jalees (playing Natalie’s sister, Nadia), whose father is Pakistani. The two “let us into their families” [stories] and how they dealt with death and dying in their cultures,” says Galuska.
As the show tackles many of life’s trials and tribulations, Galuska says the writers consulted with experts to approach each topic authentically. Writing the character of Yara, who has dementia, brought in an expert on Alzheimer’s disease. “We talked to neurologists about how your brain works,” she says, noting that the collaboration on BoJack Rider with creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg taught him the importance of “having vegetables with your treats.” The showrunner adds, “This show, at its heart, is about normalizing the big feelings that people have. There are so many human experiences like yours and different from yours, and both are important.
While the “crazy” world of Big mouth and Human ressources is a maniacal setting, the latter always aims to tackle more serious themes. “We represent the millions of voices that we all have in our heads at once, but we see them as these weird-looking creatures,” Galuska says of Walter the lovebug. “Even though there’s a lot of gross stuff in this show, we’re still starting from an emotional place.”
“The end of someone’s life is a very touching and important moment,” says Galuska. “We wanted to treat him with the reverence he deserved.”
Galuska says experimentation is key, especially for a scene like this. “We do table readings and get feedback in the room, and then we make adjustments,” she explains. While this moving scene is light on humor, the moments of levity help pack its punch: “You cry, then you relieve yourself a bit of the joke, then you start crying again.”
This story first appeared in a standalone June issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.