Taking the world by storm, Sex Education gained over 40 million fans after its release in January 2019. Whilst I was excited about the new decade and the new year, I must say that I was most looking forward to the release of the second series of Sex Education and thankfully it did not disappoint.
Series one told the story of Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), son of sex therapist Dr Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson) and best friend of Eric Effiong (Ncuti Gatwa), teaming up with Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey) to form a sex clinic which instantly becomes popular at their school. Unlike so many other shows it tackles and details the intricacies of sex, from masturbating and vaginismus, to “dirty talk” and gag reflexes. It puts emphasis on the fact that there is no overriding rule book for sex and that any sexual experience will be different for the people going through it. I hope that it will open up a long-overdue conversation about sex. It puts the importance on just how important sex education is for everyone regardless of age and how unbelievably inadequate putting a condom on a banana and calling it “sex education” genuinely is. It is a subject that deserves a place in the curriculum at schools as educating ourselves about it removes the stigma surrounding its discussion and misunderstanding which, I believe, has created this unhealthy and awkward atmosphere surrounding sex, relationships and anything related to them. Aside from sex, it also confronts many other issues such as sexuality, abortion, class, race and mental health and how feeling ashamed about any of these things shamelessly lingers in our society. Other than its rather unlikeable headmaster, the relatively americanised Moordale High seems somewhat relatable to everyone when they think back to their experience at secondary school in some respects yet in others it feels like a utopia that we slightly hoped we had experienced.
The Guardian remarked how Sex Education is, “an example of TV catching up to the creativity that’s been active” in other industries for years with its good writing, refreshingly complex characters and captivating storylines. Of course, this is made even better by some truly outstanding performances from Gillian Anderson, Asa Butterfield, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey, Connor Swindells and Aimee Lou Weed, who all clearly understand the magnitude of the messages they are delivering. If you have not watched it yet, however, I encourage you to stop reading due to the spoilers ahead!
As always with many shows, the second series was not as good as the first, however, still captivating, loveable and, most importantly, relevant. From Otis’ first tumultuous relationship with Ola, to the love triangle Eric finds himself in, Adam’s struggle with his sexuality, Maeve’s proud academic flourishment, Jackson’s degenerating mental health, and Aimee’s awful sexual assault, the series was more still fast-paced, dramatic, and moving. Otis’ mother Jean questioned the ethics of Otis’ clinic as she thinks that the information should be free to children, which also prompts the question of the availability of reliable information about sex to anyone at school. The show continued to face the realities of relationships and sex, showing that whatever your age, they will never be straightforward aspects of your life as shown in the storylines between Dr Jean Milburn and her handyman Jakob Nyman and many other adult relationships shown.
The series was highly praised for its handling of the storyline of Aimee’s sexual assault. In the third episode, a stranger masturbates and ejaculates onto her leg whilst on a public bus. Despite her exclamation, nobody does anything and so she quickly gets off the bus. Aimee is determined that this is just an unfortunate story rather than an assault. This is until Maeve goes to the police station with her to report it. Based on the writer Laurie Nunn’s experience, sadly it is an experience and reaction we can all relate to. This becomes heartbreakingly evident when the group of girls in detention find that the one thing they all have in common is that they have all been victims of sexual assault in some way. It is a harsh and painful reality to be faced with but nonetheless one that everyone has to confront so that it does not continue to be the one thing all women have in common. I found the portrayal moving and angry, but also encouraged that the show is clearly encouraging society to change its ugly ways.
Whether you’re an avid fan or have only heard the name in a buzz of conversation, this series is one to watch. It simultaneously catches your heart, engages your curiosity and leaves you addicted.