‘Sex Education’ is one of the few shows that does exactly what is says on the tin.
It’s an unapologetic, and surprisingly heartfelt, look into the testing times of teenagers going through puberty, that manages to hide a great deal of real advice on sex, relationships and self-love behind its
The show follows the life of socially awkward, sixth-form virgin Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) who lives with his sex therapist mother Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson). When it turns out that he has learned a lot from listening in on the therapy sessions his mother conducts, he teams up with the schools resident bad-girl Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey) to set up The Clinic to provide sex and relationship advice to their peers in exchange for money.
Firstly, we are introduced to Otis, a 16-year-old who describes himself as “sexually repressed”, and with him, we are shown that there is so much more than the usual one-track minded teen whose only motivation is sex. Instead, Otis is completely opposed to the idea of sex, something unfathomable by his peers and his very sexually active, mother. While his phobia of intimacy is initially played off as a joke, the true origins of his fear become apparent as Otis is forced to confront his sexuality in a number of ways as The Clinic and growing feelings for Maeve expose him to intimate relationships.
Maeve, the mastermind behind The Clinic, is perhaps a character we are more used to seeing in this kind of teen drama. She is the scary, aloof bad-girl who isn’t afraid of her sexuality. As a result, she is outcast and bullied by her peers. This doesn’t stop her however as she proves to be strong-willed and undeniably good by the end of the first series.
Stand out character is Eric Effiong (Ncuti Gatwa) who also shows a great deal of development between the first and last episode. He becomes so much more than the stereotyical gay best friend there for comic relief, as he navigates through his own issues with identity as the story progresses. Once openly and unapologetically gay, a series of unfortunate events cause him to become isolated and angry, refusing the help of those around him. The story arch of not only his character but all the teenagers introduced to us, seem real and grounded while still managing to be entertaining. ***Him being of African heritage also plays an important part. Slightly irritating that there was the stereotypical black parental discomfort with having a gay son. Though to be fair it wasn’t heavy-handed and in a brilliant and powerful scene of reconciliation between Eric and his father played by
Whilst everything is clearly exaggerated for the screen, the issues the teens come to The Clinic with, and the problems our main characters face are realistic and the advice Otis dishes can be used in the real world. Clever use of Jedi Mind tricks writers. Beyond just being a funny concept of a 16-year old virgin dishing out excellent sex advice learnt from his overbearing mother, Sex
Perhaps the only problems stem from the confusion British viewers, who went to school in the UK, may experience with the Americanisation of the sixth form college in the show. Despite being filmed and most likely set in a small town in Wales, there is the unfamiliar presence of very American High school-style traditions. This includes the huge school the children attend, fit with their own set of jocks, mean girls and school dances. Though somewhat jarring, once you get past the fact that this is most likely a ploy to increase the viewership across the pond, the show remains a touching coming-of-age tale, something that can be identified within any setting.
Overall, I think it’s fair to say that any show which prides itself on beginning its very first episode with a scene depicting the unsuccessful sex lives of two sixth form students is bound to be something we have never seen before. While it has been deemed the next Skins, I think Sex Education stands apart from the often over
TBB Recommendation By Jade Fakokunde
Another slight peeve was this world where every single character was blissfully in an interracial relationship. Interracial love does not equal the end of racism nor racial utopian harmony. White creatives, it’s perfectly okay to show diversity with same race love stories. You aren’t showcasing your non-racism by avoiding it, actually with all the non-white characters having white love interests you’re slightly perpetuating the notion that white people are the epicentre of every ethnic’s desire which simply is not true and a little narcissistic and white
Directors: Kate Herron, Ben Taylor
Writers: Laurie Nunn, Sophie Goodhart, Bisha K. Ali, Laura Hunter, Laura Neal, Freddy Syborn
Cast: Ncuti Gatwa, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Deobia Oparei, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Doreene Blackstock, Kadeem Ramsay, Daniel Adegboyega, Femi Elufowoju Jr.
Where to watch: Netflix