The first UK original Netflix show Sex Education premiered two weeks ago and I binge watched it in one sitting. It was fun, funny, emotional and an amazing commentary on society, sex and acceptance. I’m already calling it my favourite of 2019 because I don’t think anything else is going to be as entertaining and heartwarming as Sex Education.
The show revolves around Otis (Asa Butterfield), who accidentally ends up giving sex therapy to his fellow high schoolers. He has a knack for advice because his mother Jean (Gillian Anderson) is a sex and relationship therapist. With various sexual questions and problems everyone seems to be having, the show doesn’t hide away from telling it how it is.
Before I get to the characters, where I might ramble for hours about my favourites, I need to emphasise the vibe of the show. During the first episode I had a hard time placing this show in a certain time. It felt 80’s and 90’s, with the clothes and soundtrack reflecting a time that was 20 to 30 years ago. But the show takes place now, in the 21st century with iPhones and social media.
That is brilliant! It sort of feeds you nostalgia while staying current, and the juxtaposition is amazing. Combining Juno, Big Mouth, Shameless and Skins all in one, and adding so much of its own special elements to it, Sex Education rocks! I didn’t know what my perfect aesthetic was but now I do – it’s this! It’s the warm tones, it’s the retro vibe, it’s the bold choices of characters.
Speaking of characters, Sex Educations has many and all of them wonderful. All the characters are special in their own way, something that makes them stand out. Everyone has their own struggles as well and nobody is perfect here, which makes this show very relatable. Asa Butterfield as Otis was instantly likeable as this nerdy guy, who’s mother discussed sex so openly. Gillian Anderson as Jean seems super cool from the start but the first season does a great job at showing her weaker side. Yes, she is cool and she has no filter, but she also has her own problems she needs to work on. Otis has a best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) who is wonderful! Eric is loud, colourful and proud to be one of the two openly gay kids at school. He is the bright light of the show, but again, his character has to go through his own struggles as well.
Then there is your typical broody girl Maeve (Emma Mackey), who secretly loves literature. Maeve has a secret relationship with one of the school’s most popular kids Jackson (Kedar Williams-Strirling), who wants to take things to another level. Then there’s the school bully, who also happens to be headmaster’s son – Adam portrayed by Connor Swindells. Adam was by far my favourite of the first season, probably because I always love a bad boy. Plus, it’s quite clear from the first episode, that Adam is actually quite a complex character and we see his walls crumble by the end of the season. Comic relief to the show is along side Eric is Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood), who is a little naive but always nice. She also has a secret friendship with Maeve, even though she hangs out with the popular kids.
The show has a very nice way of raising important topics. There is abortion, bullying, “no means no”, blackmail, sexual orientation, and the obvious conversation about sex. The episode that focused on abortion is one of the show’s strongest because of the message it sends. It’s a choice women need and should be able to make, no matter the reason, and it was a very emotional episode. Then of course there was a bit of female empowerment as well, which again, was done so well that I wanted to join in myself. But there’s also the brutal honesty of male sexuality as well, because Otis, from the beginning, struggles with his sexuality. So does Adam, since he takes 3 Viagra’s just so he could get it up. Hilarious yet a very clever social commentary.
So what I’m trying to say is, Sex Education is an important show for all teens. Hell, I’m almost 30 and I learned things from this! It also helps that the show is very funny, clever and supportive. Yes, people mess up and make mistakes, but it’s okay. Yes, people can say mean things, but most of the time, those mean things are rooted in much deeper problems. With such shows that aren’t afraid to show us these types of stories, and these incredibly awkward things, I think we are able to raise awareness and acceptance.
Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to ruin one of the more wonderful twists in the final episode. Though for me it wasn’t a twist, because I remember writing to Sofia that I think there’s a closeted bi/gay-character and I love him. Well, I was right, because the final episode did deliver a shocker when Adam and Eric got together during detention. Did I saw it coming? Yes. But it also meant Connor Swindells did an amazing job throughout the first season. He had moments, where he just had this look, and that look was saying a 100 words a minute. You could tell he was struggling with himself and his sexuality. I’m not outright thinking his gay, I’m pretty hopeful that Adam is sexually fluid, which would make him a pretty unique character. Adam and Eric remind me a bit of Ian and Mickey in Shameless US, but hopefully they end up in a better place.
As far as Netflix shows go, I think Sex Education is one of the strongest it has had in many years. There was comedy mixed in with such important topics. It didn’t only showcase sexuality from the male perspective nor from the female, and paved a more equal way of showing how we all struggle with sex, sexuality and ourselves especially during the teenage years. In ways, I wish I had this show growing up. I guess Skins would have been the closest to what I had, even though I was a bit too old for that too. But since then the world has changed a lot, and the problems and discussions we’re having now are way more opened. As was Sex Education – open to it all, and I was there, taking it all in!
As far as I know season 2 has not been confirmed yet, but I have no doubt it will happen. If not, Netflix is an idiot.2