Review: Sex Education

Elizabetta Pulcini reviews the Netflix sensation Sex Education, which provides both laughs and a serious message.

Elisabetta Pulcini
12th August 2019
Image: Netflix on Youtube

Highly stylized, heartfelt and peculiar, Sex Education follows the story of Otis, a repressed teenager who finds himself in the role of a sex therapist for his classmates. Surrounded by people more experienced than him, Otis shines as a wise, yet incredibly awkward advisor.

The strength of empathy is the defining theme of the show. In fact, Otis is shown as a responsible kid when it comes to advising his peers, yet he is often guilty of the mistakes against which he cautions others. However, episode by episode, he makes remarkable progress and learns how to take his own advice. That is the journey that the viewer is taken through: self-doubt and shame are present in all of us, and it is only by destigmatizing these emotions that we can learn how to deal with them.

The strength of empathy is the defining theme of the show


When dealing with relevant topics, such as abortion, revenge porn and homophobia, the show participates to the societal discussion with extreme nuance, and never in predictable ways. Through this, each episode remains fun and entertaining. And that’s exactly the purpose the show successfully conquers.

By showcasing a variety of broadly relatable characters, the show effectively uses stereotyped versions of real people to entertain and connect to its audience. Not surprisingly, the creators of the show cite John Hughes as their inspiration: movies like The Breakfast Club use stereotypes to comment upon socially relevant issues, without losing the entertainment value or coming across as shallow.

Incredible performances and thorough storylines set this show apart in the genre of sex-comedy. In particular, its portrayal of mental illness and the importance of representation give meaning and depth to the characters, while never resulting in it seeming pretentious or preachy. But the setting is where Sex Education excels. British actors, American schools, and unlikely houses. The show captures the eye of the viewer with its almost surrealist feel. While off-putting at first, the improbable setting is completely intentional, due to its meticulous attention to detail and masterful craft of the tone. In conclusion, through relatable characters and careful creators, Sex Education has found a way to approach highly educational topics, while remaining fresh and invigorating.

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AUTHOR: Elisabetta Pulcini
Film Editor 19/20 and Law (LLB) graduate. An Italian passionate about journalism and the law: always up for a debate. @ElisabettaPul

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