By Alexis Kominos
Sex Education, the Netflix show created by Laurie Nunn has taken the interest of many Netflix users. The first season premiered on January 11th, 2019, while the second season premiered on January 17th, 2020. The first season follows Otis Milburn who is a socially awkward teenager in high school. He had mixed feelings about sex, while most people in his high school are more sexually mature. His mother is a sex therapist which is ironic due to his uncomfortable feelings towards sex. The first season takes us on a heartfelt, awkward, coming-of-age, story of Otis and his friends and their separate journeys trying to find themselves in the harsh time of high school. This article contains spoilers.
Many movies and shows today, deal with sex very simplistically and show that it is all sunshine and rainbows; however, when in reality, it is quite the opposite. Sex Education does a thorough job of showing the realistic trials and tribulations that high schoolers go through especially dealing with sex and self-discovery. The norm of movies and shows today is that they simply only care about whether or not the characters have had sex when there is so much more than that. Sex Education shows all the ‘more’ and continues to do so in season two.
The first season was successful in showing us that sex, love, communication, and friendship is not all just black and white. Otis and his best friend Eric have to find words to express their feelings while Otis pulls away to be with Maeve Wiley, his love interest. Adam Groff, the son of the principle, and the school bully turns out to be gay, and we get to see his journey of self-discovery and learning to come to terms with his new feelings. Along with that, we get to witness the strained relationship between Adam and his father and the communication barrier they possess as well. Nicole Istre, a Senior at Glenelg, explains her feelings on this aspect of the show. She claims, “I think it is important for a show to show problems within families and how children hide these big things from their parents.” This may allow some viewers who relate to the relationship Adam has with his father to feel less alone and to know that there are other people dealing with the same things he is. Along with Adam Groff, Maeve Wiley is battling herself and continues to learn how to love and be loved even though sometimes she thinks she is unworthy of love. While the kids in the show are definitely interested in sex, their interest comes with a wide list if insecurities as well. Seeing these characters carry these very real insecurities gives us a sense of reassurance that we are all normal and these feelings are normal.
As the second season premiers, it begins with Otis and Ola, his love interest. The two companions realize all the pressures of high school romances as their own relationship advances. On the other hand, the first episode opens up with a chlamydia outbreak. Right away the show tackles the hard-to-talk-about topics, like the stigma behind sexually transmitted diseases. Although the show jumps into scary stuff right away, there are various positive messages the show tries to portray to the audience and some of these messages were not touched on in season one of Sex Education. The show talks about parental relationships and how teenagers treat their parents as they grow and get older. Jean Milburn, Otis’s mother, acts as an outlet for all the students and we learn more about what the norm is when it comes to children acting up towards their parents.
Although season one focused on sexuality a decent amount, season two steps it up a notch. Jean Milburn says the hard-hitting quote, “Sex cannot make you whole so how could you ever be broken” when talking to one of the students at the school. This statement is something many people could hear and should listen to. Jean also discusses the idea that sexuality is fluid. Ola and another student at the school discuss their sexuality with Jean, and they are all confused; however, Jean explains that sexuality is fluid and there are many different ways someone can swing. Pansexuality, bisexuality, along with many others are discussed in the show which is important because students, especially in high school, do not have the knowledge on those topics. Sydney Repole mentions her feelings on the show’s incorporation of more LGBTQ advocacy. She says, “I think it is very important that the show is bringing more attention to the lesser-known sexualities and explaining that sexuality is not black and white. That is probably something that many high school students should understand better”. The show also takes us throughout the story of Adam Groff as he comes to terms with being bisexual and finally confesses his feelings in front of the whole school to Eric, his crush and Otis’s best friend.
One topic that was not discussed in season one is sexual assault and how that can make people feel. Aimee Gibbs used to take the bus every day to school to avoid the hours of time lost that walking would do. She took the bus and a man assaulted her by ejaculating on her pants. At first, she acted like it was not a big deal, but the audience sees that behind closed doors she is deeply traumatized from it. She avoids the bus and avoids being touched at all by another male. The show does a great representation of how sexual assault can make someone feel and how it is not always comfortable speaking out about it. Jasmine Kim, a Senior at Glenelg says that, “I really like the angle they chose to show how one feels after being violated. They decided to show how she was fine around friends, but deeply scarred in private”. Eventually, she tells a group of girls and they stand with her and explain times they have felt or been violated as well. Maya Schenk, a Junior at Glenelg, says that “ it is a great thing for a show to incorporate aspects of sexual assault and how it makes the victim feel. This could potentially encourage other girls who have been violated to speak out about what they went through”. This scene with all the girls also tackles slut-shaming and gives the message that girls should raise each other up and not bring each other down. Slut-shaming is characterized by disparaging woman, and occasionally men, for expressing her sexuality outside the social norm or expectation. This is a big problem throughout high school and it is important to shed some light on the issue, which the show thoroughly does.
Many other topics are discussed like mental health, self-harm, letting anger out, and love. There is a lot of love in the show Sex Education, but there is a lot of heartbreak as well. Life is not perfect and bad things happen, but the show tries to tell the audience that it is okay. It is okay to be angry and want to smash things, as they do many times in this season with baseball bats at a junkyard. It is okay to be a little odd and have questions about yourself that are sometimes unanswerable. This show is all about finding oneself, learning to communicate in a healthy way, the power of a good friend, and that everyone has insecurities and you are not alone. Sex Education teaches men that being vulnerable is okay. It teaches that talking about the things that make you feel uncomfortable is a good thing to do sometimes. This is a show that calls out everyone and makes people feel less alone by tackling topics that people tend to shy away from.