Entertaining, awkward, and extremely R-rated—Sex Education gives a refreshing comedic spin to high school dramas.
This post for Sex Education Season 1 contains spoilers.
I wasn’t planning on watching Sex Education (2019, created by Laurie Nunn) at all when Netflix dropped all eight episodes last Friday (January 11), but because I was out of TV shows to watch, I decided to give it a try. And boy thank god I did because I binge-watched the series like as if it was an 8-hour long movie, which was probably what Netflix had intended.
Sex Education follows the story of 16-year-old high school outcast and virgin Otis (Asa Butterfield), who grew up learning all about sex and relationships from his mother Jean (Gillian Anderson), a sex and relationship therapist. At the beginning of a new school year, Otis unexpectedly forms a business partnership with Maeve (Emma Mackey), where the duo started charging their school mates money for sex advice.
At first, I thought the series was set in the 80s/90s because of the wardrobe and soundtrack used in the show; but I immediately learnt that I was mistaken after hearing 21st century phrases such as “lit” and “on fleek” being used in the dialogue. Also, the teens pulling out their smartphones was a dead giveaway that the series is set in the contemporary era.
Before I discuss the series’ story and go in-depth on its characters, let me just point out the obvious first by writing: wow I couldn’t get past the fact that Emma Mackey who plays Maeve looks exactly like Margot Robbie with her signature Harley Quinn hair colour but minus the blue dye because Maeve’s ombre hair only has the cotton candy pink.
Is Emma Mackey actually Margot Robbie and just not telling anyone? https://t.co/86EpYemZih—
Erik Anderson (@awards_watch) January 03, 2019
The resemblance between Mackey and Robbie is uncanny; it’s definitely the upper part of their faces that looks the same, especially the eyebrows and eyes—even though Robbie has blue eyes and Mackey has brown eyes. Okay now that we’re past that, let’s move on.
Sex Education’s subplots aren’t particularly impressive, and in fact most of the plotlines are foreseeable way before the actual event takes place for audiences to witness. The show follows a very stereotypical narrative and borrows from common TV tropes to develop the relationships between its characters. Some of the tropes are: unrequited love switcheroo; virgin nerd; a gay character being the victim of bullying; teenage pregnancy; jock of the high school getting what he wants but turns out he also has his own struggles and isn’t as perfect as what everyone thinks; f*cked up high school girl who comes from a f*cked up family is actually the smartest bitch in school, but hides the fact that she’s smart from everyone else; typical queen bee drama; beta bitches mistreating their inner circle friend like a minion; headmaster’s son is the school’s bully and the biggest dum-dum; best friends have a huge fight; and others. As you can see, it’s really not that hard to figure out what Sex Education is about—the show is basically your average teen drama with a central focus on SEX and EDUCATION.
What feels fresh about Sex Education is probably the whole idea of “selling sex advice”—instead of drugs, though this narrative does come up in the last few episodes—to kids in school. Butterfield’s embarrassingly awkward character Otis pairs up perfectly with the rebellious female outcast Maeve, as well as his gay best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa). Butterfield’s performance here is brilliant; he’s so painfully awkward that it makes me feel bad when he can’t even finish his sentences in front of people. His best friend Eric is such a superstar and probably the highlight of the series; he’s loud, gay, and always over the top at the right moment. There’s a scene where he teaches straight girls how to suck a dick and he actually demonstrates it with a banana—that scene was hilarious 🍌. As for Maeve, Mackey plays this mysterious, aggressive, play hard to get teenage girl perfectly; her resting bitch face is also on point.
A quote from Alan Sepinwall writing for the Rolling Stone perfectly captures the essence of the show and why everyone should watch it; he writes:
“Again and again, the show smartly subverts our expectations about who people are and what they’re capable of.”
Although Sex Education features a heck load of clichés in its story, the characters are refreshing to watch and the performances are fantastic. This series also felt reminiscent of UK’s popular teen drama series Skins, though the latter one is a tad more serious and lacks comedic elements. I personally see similarities between Maeve and Effy; Otis and Freddie. Another thing that Sex Education shares in common with Skins is the not-so-subtle display of nudity. In the opening scene of “Episode 1”, spoiler alert: two people were having sex, and in later episodes there was even an explicit scene dedicated to lesbian scissoring; something that I’ve definitely never seen on TV before—I’m sorry I’ve never watched The L Word!
I’m quite certain that Sex Education will return on Netflix for a Season 2; the series seems to be making the rounds on the internet. In the mean time, I’ll just leave this tweet here:
no context sex education (@sexeducation) January 11, 2019