Centered around Otis Milburn, a blundering teen who sets up his own sex therapy clinic whilst navigating the highs and lows of young adulthood, Sex Education is a show that quite literally acts as a form of, well, sex education. Covering STIs, various medical conditions, abortion, and an array of sexualities, Sex Education is the non-airbrushed version of what should be covered in schools.
Furthermore, the show is so richly diverse that it negates the ‘normality’ of whiteness and heterosexuality that many Netflix shows perpetuate. Bursting at the seams with different races, abilities, sizes, cultures, and sexualities, Executive Producer Laurie Nunn’s show gives no generic setting. Instead, Sex Education leaves us with the kind of fictional world of acceptance that we must aspire to – but without diminishing the abuse that those who don’t conform to perpetuated normativism face all too often.
One of the most talked-about storylines of the decade involves beloved character Aimee, who is sexually assaulted on a bus in broad daylight. Nunn’s choice to include an assault that happens during an act of daily life draws attention to the all-too-common symptom of Aimee not believing the offence is serious enough to warrant going to the police, despite the flashbacks and trauma that follow. When Aimee goes to the police and takes the first step towards recovery by taking the bus again with the help of her friends, it’s one of the most empowering TV moments of the last few years.
This storyline is so ridiculously important because unfortunately, it’s relatable for so many women, as the show once again demonstrates. When Aimee attends detention with the other girls, who have all been given a task to write an essay on something that unites them as women, they realise what they all have in common: unwanted sexual attention. Their stories of being slut-shamed from a young age, followed home, groped, and flashed are ones that so many can relate to and the kind of behaviour that gets swept under the rug. Despite it being tragic that unwanted sexual advances unite 2/3 of women, the car (and patriarchy) smashing conclusion of this episode was one that dominated social media in its wake. It got people of all genders talking about day-to-day unwanted sexual advances and therefore taking a step in the right direction.
The hit show grapples with a number of other difficult storylines too, and it does so with grace and relatability. Revenge porn, self-harm, drug addiction, unwanted pregnancy, sexual insecurities, adoption, academic pressure, culture clashes, and coming to terms with sexuality are just some of the issues that Sex Education covers in informative and sensitive ways. Its explicit scenes are handled with comedy and realism – it’s exactly the kind of show that anyone 16+ should be encouraged to watch.
Sex Education is the glorious whirlwind of technicolour that teens have been needing for years. Richly diverse and educational in every way, this is exactly the kind of show that, to me, reflects everything positive about our generation, and I for one cannot wait to see what awaits us in Season 3.