Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’: Much More Than a Teen Drama

Season Two of Sex Education is finally on Netflix and it’s just as, if not more, heart-warming as the first. With even more diversity, relatability and humour, this series is proving to be very different from the typical teen dramas we’re used to, and in the best way possible.

It all begins with a whirlwind montage of Otis’ (played by Asa Butterfield) new gained ability - yep, he can now masturbate! This candid opening sets up the scene for the entirety of the season: an honest reflection of the realities of young people, no matter how awkward they may be. With a return from Emma Mackey (Maeve), Ncuti Gatwa (Eric) and of course Asa Butterfield (Otis), the already likeable cast does see various newcomers, who are just as endearing as the originals. Among them include Anne-Marie Duff who plays ‘Erin’, Maeve’s mum, and Chinenye Ezeudu as ‘Viv’, a prominent member on the quiz team.

Couple watching television

Sex Education’s creator, Laurie Nunn, is no stranger to bringing attention to issues normally seen as ‘taboo’. In 2016 she worked on the short film ‘Pregnant Pause' which centres around a young woman’s deliberations about her possible pregnancy. Like this short film, both the first and second season of Sex Education, have cleverly highlighted the important topics that young people face.

Fans have praised Nunn’s storytelling ability, in the context of these complex issues, and rightly so. While the first season discussed the realities of teen pregnancy, hate crime and bullying, Season Two takes on topics like sexual assault, safe sex and drug addiction. All these matters lead to deeper character developments and it does so in a way that is both endearing and realistic.

Alcohol Drinking Hands Party

Teen dramas are known to either over sensationalize coming-of-age issues or completely ignore them all together. But, this season of Sex Education presents genuine depictions of the typical challenges young people face and allows you as a viewer to truly connect with its (at times) sensitive material. Whether it’s through the series protagonist Otis’ clumsy yet funny intimate experiences or the very real, sometimes traumatic, struggles faced by the character Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood). Season Two is certainly moving in more ways than one.

This season still features the same unusual yet satisfying aesthetic. With the bold 80’s style clothing and American themed high school, the setting can be a little confusing with its bold ‘80s style clothing and typical American themed high school. But, as Asa Butterfield stated, this style medley was intended in order to create a sort of ‘Nowheresville’, and this ambiguity just adds to the show’s likeability. The varying styles and visuals result in a universe that all viewers can relate to in one way or another.

Rack of clothesThe cast themselves have stated the many ways in which they engage with the storyline. Viewers are able to notice this authenticity in the cast’s performances. Gatwa stated that he liked how his character Eric had more substance than simply becoming ‘a caricature black-best-friend character’ and he’s right. His character storyline is thoroughly developed, and viewers can become fully engaged with his experiences in a way that goes far beyond surface level. In season two we learn even more about his complex relationship with Adam, his on and off love interest, who’s played by Connor Swindells. This just illustrates what’s done so well within this series. Each character has their own fully established storyline, free from the stereotypical societal norms that we are used to seeing. Their narratives become increasingly developed in the second season and their complex personalities are explored.

Love is Love board on Pride FlagAs Asa Butterfield says, ‘the sooner we can normalise not just sex, but everything that comes along with it- the before and after; the emotion and physicality- and present it in an honest way, the better’. This concept is especially clear within the second season of Sex Education. Nunn has made a genuine attempt to engage with the experiences of young people in the most authentic way possible. With realistic and amusing scenes, touching stories of relationships and individual growth, this season may just be even better than the last!

 

Words by Tara West.

 

Edited by Dasha Pitts.