Surprisingly thoughtful and “it’s really not what you think it is!”
Ok, you know how the Netflix app highlights and recommends to you all sort of random stuff? And when I first spied ‘Sex Education’ as a new release, I honestly thought it was a series which gave you actual sex advice like ‘Sex Life’ (for those who grew up in the 90s). And if we’re being honest, who doesn’t want a better sex life? Right?
But when I eventually got around to checking it out, I was massively disappointed to learn that it wasn’t sex ed, but instead a British comedy drama about teenagers at a fictitious high school. Boo! For one, we’re in our mid 30s and way too old for teen dramas; secondly we don’t watch many dramas in general; and thirdly my wife found the first 5 minutes of episode 1 so distasteful and cringing, that she literally took her meal and left the room – finishing her lunch alone in the study. And that was that, I stopped the stream and tried pleading with her to come back (which she never did).
Now that was back in January, and I still remember it, as it was during the Christmas-New Year break, thus we were both at home on a weekday watching Netflix during lunch. Now we fast-forward a few months, and for me at least, I’m working from home due to Covid isolation, and during lunch breaks (tired of watching 24/7 news reports on coronavirus), I started to watch all the Netflix shows which my wife wasn’t interested in – i.e. ‘Kim’s Convenience’, ‘Master of None’, ‘The IT Crowd’, and I gave Sex Education another go……..
To give you a super-quick synopsis on the main premise of the series, essentially Sex Education is a British comedy drama produced by Netflix, following a bunch of teenagers in their final year of high school. The main protagonist is Otis Milburn, an awkward wall-flower who is largely unnoticed by his peers at school. He only comes to the attention of his year group, when the school’s bully finds out that his mother Dr Jean Milburn is a renowned sex therapist, and broadcasts on the classroom’s TV a clip of her giving sex advice using vegetables as handy propts. Which leads to Otis fleeing the classroom in shame, resulting in bringing Maeve Wiley (the ‘attractive bad-girl of the year’) into the same orbit as him. And after a humorous (for us at least) scene, Maeve notices Otis’ natural talent in giving others sex advice, which leads Maeve to suggest that they start a sex clinic together, giving their peers sex advice for cash (as she needs the money). And then the dramas and the laughs unfold from there.
The premise does sound a bit young, while not being appropriate for a young viewer either – but oddly for an ‘older’ person, I quite enjoyed the series. Although it’s crude at times, and touches on all the teenage taboo topics under the sun, but Sex Ed manages to capture the drama in an honest and thoughtful way. Dare I say…..? A tasteful way? I personally think it’s due to the British approach. If this was an American series – it would have been like ‘American Pie’, crude, filled with dick jokes, and the bullies would have been jocks. Although Sex Ed still had the occasional dick joke, bullies, and all that typical teenage stuff, but oddly the British still managed to make it classy and real in the end. Dick jokes which weren’t as crude as others; bullies who still had a vulnerable side; and they got down to the core of every teenage angst……… Not to mention it has a killer soundtrack!
And here is where I drop a huge bombshell….. A secret which I’ve been keeping for the past 18 months while blogging ‘Four Senses- Touch Smell Taste Sound’, which is…….I’m blind! So yeah, being unable to see, I found it impossible to believe that the mother Jean Milburn is actually played by Gillian Anderson! Yes, that Gillian Anderson from the 90s, the American actress who played Scully in the X-Files! For someone who only hears things, I found it nearly impossible to associate the mature British sounding woman, to the redheaded FBI agent from that 90s sci-fi show! A true ‘bravo’ to Gillian for completely transforming herself in the intervening years, and she does a superb performance in Sex Ed!
Although I wasn’t completely comfortable with all of the scenes and themes from Season 1- as there are parts where they really do push the envelope of mainstream entertainment – it’s an honest reflection of today’s society and a realistic reflection of what teenagers are really going through in this day and age. And again, although they could have made the scenes crude and over-the-top as the Americans would have, the producers of Sex Ed brought in some true emotion to the scenes, which then evoked some pretty genuine and real emotions from us the viewers.
If it sounds like I’m purposefully skirting only at the edges of the show, and that I’m being purposefully opaque? You’ve got me, I’m just trying not to give too much away, while trying to convince you that it’s “really not what you think it is.”
So if you’re stuck in isolation and looking for something different to watch, check out Netflix’s Sex Education, it’s oddly worth-your-while! And Season 2 is also available if you want to binge on!
**Tip: If you don’t like seeing certain ‘acts’ on TV, try only listening to shows- just turn on ‘Audio description’ on your Netflix app and Bluetooth the audio to a SMART speaker. Enjoy shows with your other four senses!