Over a decade ago, when I too was navigating the hotbed of hormones, puberty, and wanting to smush my face against other peoples faces, the only thing I had for reference was Skins. And the guys in Skins were cool. Too cool. Far too cool. They popped pills, drank themselves silly, went on holidays, and shagged like pro-porn stars. They weren’t figuring out their bodily bits whilst awkwardly starring at popularity as though it were a cat just out of my grasp.
Embarrasing behaviour in television series didn’t seem to really come to me until The Inbetweeners and seeing as girls were treated as mythical fit creatures, that didn’t seem to appeal to me too. It is only recently that has been great developments in truly looking at the intimacy and idiocy of sexuality and all the nasty feels that come with it with in shows such as Big Mouth, Awkward and this brand new British comedy show Sex Education.
Created by Laurie Nunn, and directed by Ben Taylor (episodes 1 – 4) and Kate Herron (episodes 5 – 8,) Sex Education is a brilliant whirlwind of pubescence and growing up. It revolves around Otis, the 16 year old boy whose mum Jean is a sex therapist. Trying to navigate through Sixth Form, he is approached by Maeve who suggests that he uses his learned expertise to help the gawky teens of their school for a price.
Blending eighties and seventies fashion and music into a modern day setting, Sex Education is a stylish romp with British pulp. The comedy is a fresh beat of a show that gets into the details of what’s brooding underneath.
Asa Butterfield makes a brilliant lead character in the gangly Otis who has never masturbated due to a repressed fear. Getting comfortable with his new role as the school’s sex guru, he also has to tackle the openness of his mother Jean (played amazingly by the effortless Gillian Anderson and, despite her being somewhat ), her own complications, and his secret attraction to Maeve. Who, by the way, is played greatly by Emma Mackey, deeply diving into the “social outcast” stereotype and pulling out a full dimensional character with soul. Otis’ openly gay best friend Eric is genius and Nccuti Gatwa gets to delve into the morsels of being homosexual whilst coming from a conservative and religious family.
What Sex Education does phenomenally well is shape it’s characters with their abundance of diversity and sexuality. Whilst also teaching the audience about difficult sexual behaviours such as vaginismus or how your emotional map can affect your downstairs area, it fleshes out each and every role here. Not one person is cast aside as the show dives deep into LGBT issues, how pressure at a young age can impact, and life without the support of a family. It is earnest in it’s depiction of Sixth Form students and masterful in making us care for each an everyone.
Yet the show doesn’t hesitate to grapple with darker themes such as abortion, consent, and homophobia. Happily, it doesn’t showcase these issues with graphic depictions in an misguided attempt to be “honest.” It is exactly that but it is subtle, sensitive, and enriched with a deep understanding. Sex Education is perhaps one of the best written TV shows about teenagers out there, replacing melodrama with hilarity and earnestness.
It is alarmingly nice to watch a television series about teenagers where they aren’t popping pills and coolly having the best sex they’ve ever had. It’s a gloriously open and honest portrayal of what teenagers actually get up too when their trying to figure out their sticky bits. An impressive must-see show that ticks with great rhythm, fantastic emotion, and seriously hilarious comedy.
Sex Education is available to watch on Netflix!