‘Sex Education’ takes on a modern approach to intimacy: emphasizing the importance of self-care, trust, and communication. The show is not just about sex. It’s about finding acceptance during an age of adolescence, getting to the route of where shame comes from, and learning to love one’s self.
Atop this, each episode covers a wide array of sexual issues. From body dysmorphia to oral performance, homosexual intercourse, and even an episode focused on abortion. Though series often finds itself circling around a very similar conclusion: communication. That the issue most partners have with each other is that they’re ashamed of their sexuality for some reason or another. The series going to great length per episode, to respect and understand these respective journeys.
The abortion episode in particular, shows the intricacies of what it’s like going to a procedure, yet was also cognizant of the vulnerability of its subjects – each moment captured with brutal honesty, heart, and compassion.
Likewise, there is also an episode about cross-dressing, coming out and owning up to one’s identity, and how to reclaim safe spaces after significant trauma: hate crime abuse.
It’s surprisingly heavy, yet well executed. Mostly because it features characters are not just caricatures but are rather well fleshed out representations of modern teens: with all the flaws and misconceptions you’d come to expect.
Now, the location for the series is set in the UK, yet there are varsity jackets and an awful lot of American high school tropes and designs. The backdrops are themed in decorum representative of all three eras between the late 1960’s to 1990’s, yet there are also smartphones and video games – the likes of which are out today.
The series is meant to be timeless. Intentionally confusing its era, like in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, another Netflix hit series. It is meant to exist in an age of adolescence, though exactly when that era is supposed to be representing, seems to be multiple choice.
Likewise, the show has a soundtrack that captures the sentimentality of youth across all three eras, with independent tracks recorded by Ezra Furman, who’d written songs specifically for the series.
‘Sex Education’ might just be one of the most authentic takes on sexual experience. On its surface level it seems like yet another teen sex comedy, but what it really explores is beyond your traditional Degrassi romp. Taking a deep look at adolescence, intimacy, and the human psyche: acknowledging that peoples flaws, particularly with romantic partners, are often a result of a longing for human empathy.
The series is a hit for a good reason. Between ‘Sex Education’ and ‘You’, both series are estimated to gather around 40 million views by the end of the month. Incredible numbers by any standard.
‘Sex Education’ is the story of Otis (Asa Butterfield), an awkward sixteen-year-old virgin attending high school in the UK. He, and his gay best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), a cross dressing diva obsessed with popularity, are the biggest losers in school. In an oddly amorous school, everyone seems to be getting it on except these two.
Otis is uncomfortable about sex. The act of masturbation literally disgusts him. Despite this, Otis is incredibly knowledgeable about sex because his mother Jean (Gillian Anderson) is a sex therapist – one with an open-door policy, and a revolving door of suitors that satisfy her needs.
It doesn’t help with Otis’ anxiety that she noses in about his personal life. Though she has good intentions, her sex positivity is rather off-putting: with dildos, toys, and erotic decorum littered throughout every room of her house and makeshift office.
Otis is rather ashamed about it. Especially, once Adam (Connor Swindells), the school bully, comes over to work on a school project. Adam shares news of his mother’s profession to the entire school – utterly shaming Otis.
Yet all is not lost, as the experience allows Otis to befriend the school’s coolest social outcast, Maeve (Emma Mackey). She is brilliantly smart, but from a rough-cut family, and has a bit of a promiscuous reputation. At first glance, it seems Maeve represents the manic-pixie-dream-girl, but as we soon get to know her, it’s obvious she’s much more than some object of affection.
She’s strong-willed and fiercely independent.
Out of coinciding coincidence, Adam overdoses on Viagra he’d taken to impress his girlfriend and so Otis and Maeve rush over to try and help Adam in his awkward situation. Taking pills to overcome anxiety over his ginormous member, Adam is unable to orgasm while having sex with his girlfriend – so Otis and Maeve try and get to the root of his problems: providing free sex therapy.
They discover that Adam’s father, who is the principal of the school, is more than disappointed in his less-than-intelligible yet troublesome son. Adam’s actions and inability to perform stemming from high anxiety over being seen as a failure.
With Otis and Maeve’s timely intervention, they help resolve Adam’s problem by having him take control of his narrative. It’s successful in resolving Adam’s sexual dysfunction, though doesn’t do much to salvage his personal life or relationship.
Regardless, surprised at their effectiveness at resolving Adam’s impotence, and with Maeve’s insistence, Otis becomes with school’s unofficial sex therapist – the pair taking on clients for some serious cash.
You can watch ‘Sex Education’ streaming on Netflix