Soon after, as Connie dons Mexican couture and sings a mariachi-themed number presumably titled “Sexy Red Bra,” Jessi’s mood quickly swings from empowerment to embarrassment; she was a confident adult strutting through the halls of her school, but suddenly all the eyeballs are too much. She doesn’t understand how wearing that bra can invite (unjust) objectification and judgment; she just wanted to feel better about herself, and yet she’s crying in the bathroom.
(It’s also worth noting that when Andrew accidentally says, “Hi Red Bra” instead of “Hi Jessi,” his Hormone Monster is disgusted with him — even monsters have standards.)
“What the hell?” Jessi says. “Why are you crying?”
“Because it’s all so overwhelming!” Connie says from the next stall over. When Jessi says she wants to throw the bra away, Connie tells her to do it. When she changes her mind, Connie says, “Yeah, keep it. I still love it, too!” She’s supportive of Jessi no matter what, and that’s a defining characteristic of both monsters: They are there for their kids, no matter how confusing or disgusting their desires become.
Choosing to make the monsters horrifying but not malicious helps keep the jokes flowing. When the Hormone Monster pops up, viewers should feel the perfect balance of nervous excitement. He’s here to do something undesirable, sure, but he’s responding to familiar pubescent motivations. The triggers are specific to this series, but universal in application. Not everyone had a kitty cat clock that turned them on, but we all got inexplicably excited over random objects.
It’s also deeply cathartic. No one talks about these things because it’s typically the most embarrassing time of our lives. Revisiting that first-hand would be too much, but the Hormone Monsters allow viewers to distance themselves from their pubescent desires just enough to look back honestly and still laugh: “The hormone monsters did it, not me.”
The monsters are a walking, talking embodiment of the pain and suffering of childhood. They operate not from a place of knowledge, but instinct. When the children ask them questions, their responses are rooted in emotion more than experience. The Hormone Monster wants sex, satisfaction, that “sweet release”; The Hormone Monstress wants to make out, fit in, and be understood.
They’re separated by the specific interests of their kids — speaking of which, please don’t let Rick be Nick’s Hormone Monster in Season 2; Nick deserves better than Coach Steve’s sex tutor — but their passions unite the monsters. Both push their kids into unwanted situations. Maury makes Andrew punch a hole in the drywall for physical satisfaction. Connie encourages Jessi to socially annihilate Nick after he lied about breaking up with her. The monsters drive them to do things that in turns creates conflict.
It’s the same function as any story, but allowing these kids’ emotions to be disembodied helps viewers understand their motivations and protects the characters: The monsters can be utterly vile and still be funny because that’s who they are; the kids can do awful things and remain empathetic because we understand what’s pushing them to those decisions.
Sure, puberty is something we all experience, but it’s easy to forget what it feels like to live through it. The Hormone Monsters are living reminders — especially when they kill.