Come Again? Everything Netflix's Sex Education Got Wrong About Sex

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the TV series Sex Education.


Don't get me wrong, Sex Education, the new British comedy-drama on Netflix, got a lot of things right. In fact, here is a list...




1. Fleshed-out female characters that are not just stereotypes or manic pixie dream girls

Maeve, Jean, Aimee, Lily, and Ola all have their own story lines and back stories, and are not there to merely serve as plot devices. Maeve is not just the love interest of Otis, but she stands as a main character with her own story. 


2. A diverse cast of characters that puts other TV series to shame

A black gay male character with an African family, a lesbian couple, a single mom who is a sex therapist, a poor girl with a difficult family situation, a black girl whose father is a Swedish handyman, the group of "popular kids" consisting of a WOC and an Indian gay male character...

Sex Education got diversity in its cast right and it's not merely diversity for diversity's sake. With so many different characters, none of them end up feeling like the token POC.


3. Gillian Anderson. Need I say more?? No, but I am going to anyway.

Gillian Anderson is amazing in her role as single-mom-sex-therapist-hottie. Plus, her outfits are iconic and I could just watch her for hours. Did somebody say mommy issues??


4. Lily Iglehart is the most relatable character ever written and you can't change my mind

A nerdy band-girl who writes alien erotica, and is determined to lose her virginity asap might sound niche. But in fact, with her moments of daring sexual exploration that reclaim her sexuality, Lily is infinitely relatable and so funny. Finally, the horny girl representation that we deserve.


5. "No, it's my vagina" episode

When a guy leaks Ruby's nudes, Maeve is there to help her out because she knows how it feels too well. Leaking nudes and posting "revenge porn" are acts of digital violence that ruin women's lives and perpetuate a misogynistic shame culture. I'm so glad Sex Education addressed this issue and did it well. The scene where everybody got up to say "no, it's my vagina" was damn powerful.


6. The episode where Aimee masturbated for the first time

Aimee's sexual exploration was long coming (pun intended). At first appalled by the thought of masturbating, saying she had never done it before, she finishes by orgasming and teaching her boyfriend exactly how to make her come. The episode not only shows that there is absolutely no shame in exploring one's own body, but also encourages women to explore their own sexualities.


7. The episode that addressed abortion

This episode was sad and insightful, and showed the realities women face in both trying to access and deal with the difficulties of abortion.

Sex Education set out to correct years of misrepresentation of sex in media. And it delivered a partially realistic account of sexual exploration and funny moments of relatable teenager horniness. But I wasn't entirely happy. So here are the things it got wrong...




1. Does no one eat pussy on this show???

Seriously. Cunnilingus, ever heard of it? I would expect Otis to encounter in his sex clinic one of the most common sexual problems: the orgasm gap. Instead, the show reproduced this gap by acting like it just did not exist. I really thought a show bent on trying to correct misrepresentations of sex would start with the thing that gets misrepresented the most: the female sexuality and orgasm. There is even a whole sequence of Eric giving out instructions on how to give blowjobs by using a banana (which is glorious) but cunnilungus gets mentioned ONLY TWICE during the whole season.


2. Why is the episode on lesbian sex about scissoring?? Again, does no one eat pussy on this show??

Otis sets out to advise this poor lesbian couple who is left to take a straight guy's advice on lesbian sex. What's more, Otis learns more about lesbian sex by watching porn on scissoring. Although there are people who do and enjoy scissoring, it is mostly a view of lesbian sex that is catered to straight men's viewing pleasure. Realistically, lesbian sex is more likely to consist of cunnilungus (among other things), which again ONLY GETS MENTIONED TWICE in Sex Education (can you tell that I'm MAD). The fact that the episode on lesbian sex is focused mainly on scissoring, which a view of lesbian sex that is catered to straight men's pleasure, perpetuates harmful ideas about lesbian sexuality.

Also, the fact that the only lesbian representations that we get are this struggling couple that end up breaking up and Jackson's mothers who are on the verge of a divorce (not to mention their very stereotypical heteronormative dynamic of a pushy mom and more chill parent) IS V DISSAPOINTING.

Give me the cute sapphic romance plot that I deserve. And more pussy eating and less scissoring, please.


3. The homoerotic bully trope is nothing new

Eric's bully, Adam, apparently had a crush on him all along. The use of this cliche homoerotic-bully-was-actually-gay trope undermines the revelation of this interracial gay romance plot. Although their story is complex and important, it links violence with love, perpetuating unhealthy ideas about what love is supposed to be and might make us overlook and excuse Adam's violent actions.


4. As much as I love Gillian Anderson, her character is unrealistic as a sex therapist

Realistically, sex therapist Dr. Jean Milburn would be more involved with female sexuality than she is portrayed to be. Her approach seems to be very phallic-oriented, illustrated by the extravagant collection of penis shaped objects that she keeps in her study.

Also, I don't quite buy it that she would be having all those incredible hook-ups with random men. It would have been more realistic if we saw her complaining about how none of these men can locate the clitoris.

PS: Jean's sexual encounter with the plumber that comes to her house is a women's-worst-nightmare-turned-into-porn-fantasy. Jean might live in a fairytale Wales forest where women don't have to worry about getting assaulted in their own homes, but most women expecting a random strange man coming to their house would take necessary security measures to protect themselves. This plotline ends up seeming like a mockery of scary realities that women face in everyday life.


5. Otis diagnosing Lily with vaginismus

Why does upon learning that Lily was unable to engage in penetration, Otis immediately diagnoses her with vaginismus without much info? Vaginismus is the involuntary contraction of muscles around the vaginal opening that makes penetration painful. If we go back to Lily's "failed" penetration attempt, we see her telling the guy to put his penis in her without any prior preparation (or foreplay, if you will).

Otis could have asked her whether she had had enough foreplay, was lubricated enough, feeling relaxed, or about many of the other factors that go into (fore)play, before diagnosing her with vaginismus (misdiagnosis can have major consequences). And that would have made it a good opportunity to address how women's preparation and pleasure do not get enough attention during heterosexual sex. 


6. Why isn't Maeve gay??

Maeve is gay af. I almost couldn't believe that she was supposed to be straight. LOOK AT HER. Maybe it's a British punk thing but she looks very gay to me. Or at least bi?? The leather jacket would be in favour. I'm still hopeful that we might get Maeve's lesbian awakening in the second season.


7. These kids, played by adult actors, are supposed to be IN HIGH SCHOOL

I was super ready to have a crush on Maeve before I realized her character is supposed to be a high school student. Although the show does a great job of showing budding teenager sexuality, there is just something that rightly bothers me about a bunch of adults watching what are supposed to be high school students having sex. 


8. Otis's orgasm seems to be the ultimate goal

Being able to masturbate and orgasm seems to be both Otis's end goal and the season's ultimate resolution with its closing scene of Otis masturbating. Otis feels that there is something wrong with him because he can't seem to come, and then this "problem" is resolved by the climactic ending (once again, pun intended). The fact that this was portrayed as a problem that must be solved leaves little room for asexual people.


I think Sex Education is an awesome show and represents sexuality so much better than majority of shows. These are some of the things I think could have been portrayed differently or addressed more. Netflix recently confirmed that there is going to be second season and I can't wait for the show to readress the things it got wrong.


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