Review: Sex Education

Asa Butterfield and Ncuti Gatwa in Sex Education

The Netflix series Sex Education manages to be both sexually frank and explicit while simultaneously sexually awkward and insecure. It’s a combination producing both heartfelt and hilarious moments.

Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson in Sex Education
Mom, must we talk about masturbation?

The story revolves around Otis, a 16 year old 6th former, played brilliantly by Asa Butterfield. His mom, Jean (Gillian Anderson), is an actual sex therapist. His dad in America is a sex therapist as well.

Somehow, being around therapists and parent-managed by a therapist mother rubbed off on Otis. He has a talent for helping sort out sexual insecurities. And 16 years old kids have plenty of them in colorful variety.

Asa Butterfield and Emma Mackey in Sex Education
I’ll book ’em, you help ’em, we’ll split the proceeds.

When the school social outcast Maeve (Emma Mackey) discovers Otis’ gift, she sees an income source. Maeve is on her own, paying her own rent and struggling to get by. Charging for sex advice is a blessing to her. She does the bookings and scheduling, Otis does the talking.

He’s actually helpful.

There are many things I liked about Sex Education. The inclusive cast is wonderful. Otis’ best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) is openly gay. There are other gay students in the school

The cast is racially and religiously inclusive. Romances between black and white students are common. LGBTQ romances are common. Maeve develops a relationship with the school’s star athlete and head boy Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling), who has two moms – one black and one white.

In addition to dealing with the awkward sex lives of teenagers, there are themes around friendship, parenting, LGBTQ issues, forgiveness, family, bullying, body image issues, and mean girls. The overarching story involved many different characters with many different family situations and sexual problems. That variety worked the secondary themes into the story organically and added depth and meaning to the often funny situations.

Some of the important younger characters were played by Connor Swindells, Aimee Lou Wood, Tanya Reynolds, and Patricia Allison. Alistair Petrie played the heartless head teacher. Mikael Persbrandt played a plumber who brought out the sexuality in Jean, the sex therapist with sexual issues of her own

Sex Education was created by Laurie Nunn. Kate Herron and Ben Taylor shared the directing. The female creator and the numerous female writers managed to come up with a series about sex that was never prurient or cringe-inducing. It was explicitly frank in language and visuals. I already mentioned that but want to repeat it again. Even so, I think it would be fine for mature teens to see.

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