Jenny Slate has decided to stop voicing the biracial character Missy on Big Mouth and is apparently leaving the show altogether. The comedian has been the voice of Missy for three seasons now, but as many productions adjust to being more mindful of race and representation, Slate and the showrunners have decided to recast the role of Missy. Slate announced her decision on Wednesday via Instagram.
"At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play 'Missy' because her mom is Jewish and white — as am I," Slate explained in her note to fans. "But 'Missy' is also Black and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people. I acknowledge how my original reasoning was flawed, that it existed as an example of white privilege and unjust allowances made within a system of societal white supremacy, and that in me playing 'Missy,' I was engaging in an act of erasure of Black people."
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Slate promised to "continue to engage in meaningful anti-racist action," in her work and her life going forward. Meanwhile, series co-creator Nick Kroll shared a similar sentiment in a statement posted on Instagram and Twitter. He noted that the decision came from "thoughtful discussion with us and our Black collaborators," but was ultimately up to Slate herself. "Missy on Big Mouth should be voiced by a Black actor," he proclaimed.
"We sincerely apologize for and regret out original decision to cast a white actor to voice a biracial character," Kroll went on. "We made a mistake, took our privilege for granted, and we're working hard to do better moving forward. We are proud of representation Missy has offered cerebral, sensitive women of color, and we plan to continue that representation and further grow Missy's character as we recast a new Black actor to play her."
So far, there is no word on who might take over the role. Missy is a fan favorite with a distinctive voice, not immediately recognizable as Slate's for many viewers. The character took center stage near the end of Season 3 and is poised to continue that way in the next batch of episodes.
Many fans thanked Slate and the Big Mouth team for making this decision proactively before outrage over the casting became a trending topic. However, many still had criticisms for the show, arguing that it has a long way to go. As a comedy centered around adolescent awkwardness, Big Mouth intentionally handles its subject matter without grace most of the time. Still, some viewers want to see more care and representation put into its handling of LGBTQ+ issues.