TV Review – Sex Education: Season One

TL;DR – It a show where sex is very much front and centre, however, it is actually the relationships that actually shine through.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Sex Education. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

There are some people who would like a do over, go back in time and do high school all over again, or indeed there are those people who never left. I would never go back to that hellscape of hormones, and finding yourself while the world gets ripped out from underneath you. Well today we look at a series that explores that very time period in all its uncomfortableness.

So to set the scene, it is 2019 (I think) and we open on Otis (Asa Butterfield) who is trying to make it look like he masturbated. That is because he is having issues in that department but he does not want to speak about it with his mother Jean (Gillian Anderson) even though, or more likely because of the fact, that she is a sex therapist. He along with Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) his best friend are starting the sixth form, which is the final two years of high school. It is here that we meet Maeve (Emma Mackey) who has a difficult past and is just trying to survive, Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) the head boy with all the world on his shoulders, and Adam (Connor Swindells) the local bully and headmaster’s son. To survive and because he has a crush, Otis joins forces with Maeve to run a sex therapy class for their local students, and well it is then worlds crash together. Now we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

Sex Education. Image Credit: Netflix.
Gillian Anderson is always a fantastic addition to anything she is in. Image Credit: Netflix.

The first thing you see is that this is a show that is not holding anything in reserve, indeed the first few minutes we get an explicit sex scene, and while it does tone down a little bit as the show continues, this is a show that is not afraid to through genitalia up on the screen in full view. However, while this is a show about teenagers having a lot of sex, this is not the heart of the show. Instead it is a show about relationships, both sexual, romantic, and familiar. Each relationship is tested throughout the series as the throws of adolescence creates opportunities and barriers.

None of this would work if the cast was not up for what is thrown at them, and they are. Now of course Gillian Anderson is amazing, that was almost a given quality before you turned on Netflix. However, what really worked was the often tempestuous relationship with her son in the show Asa Butterfield. On the surface they have a very open relationship but it is one that is built on issues. There is the hurt that Otis feels that he had a part in his parent’s divorce, even though it is entirely not his fault. Also Jean is stalled in her life, and uses Otis’ issues to propel her further. This creates a loving but fructuous relationship as boundaries are breached.

Sex Education. Image Credit: Netflix.
While high School can have its highs, it can also have its lows. Image Credit: Netflix.

It is also the boundaries that get made and broken among the social groups of school. There are these unspoken rules, which get observed and broken all the time. This is danger and the joy of high school, it is when you are finding who you are, even if that is someone who completely over shares about their alien fantasy comics. You have to stand up for who you are, but that does not mean punching that annoying person in the face, even if they are very punchable. However, because it is this moment in their lives it is a time of real confusion, which means the sex therapy business is a good idea, but also means that you can really be indecisive about everything.

What is interesting about Sex Education, is that it is a show of juxtapositions. You see that in the blending of 2019 rom-com where the kids have mobiles but live in the 1980s and the parents live in the 1950s. This was clearly an artistic choice because of its consistency, and while I could see how people find this off-putting, it really grew on me throughout the show. As well as this, this is a show that shows the very blunt side of teenage life, abortions, issues with faith, fighting with parents, finding who you are. However it is also a show filled with joy, where you find those moments and treasure them.   

Sex Education. Image Credit: Netflix.
When you can’t be who you want to be, it can destroy your life. Image Credit: Netflix.

As far the story goes through the season, there are some highs and lows. You can tell from both the genre and inserts that there is a real understanding of rom-coms. There are these moments that you will remember from films like 10 Things I Hate About You or the original The Taming of the Shrew. However, this is a show that does not rest on its laurels and while it hits some of these notes, it is still its own thing. It is show that explores the many issues about the lives of modern teens and nothing is off limits. Friendships are made and broken, or indeed you realise who are your real friends are. However, there are a couple of plot beats that did feel a little frustrating, like the homophobic bully having a deep secret.

The one thing that also sets the show apart is that it does not have very many happy endings, narratively speaking. So, Otis and Eric find a new balance, and Jean and Jakob (Mikael Persbrandt) find a new level to their, I want to say relationship. Also the big self-realisation was Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood) breaking up with her awful friends and finding who she is as a person. However, it is a show that leaves many facets of its story unresolved at the end, or in some cases the rug gets pulled out from people’s feat in the last few minutes of the season. I hope this is because they know there is a second season on the way to tie things up, but it did feel like the first half of a season rather than a full arc.                          

Sex Education. Image Credit: Netflix.
With some interesting lighting and cinematography, the show has a visual style that is interesting to see. Image Credit: Netflix.

In the end, do we recommend Season One of Sex Education? Yes and No. Look if you are someone who has an issue with depictions of sex and nudity, then 100% this is not the show for you, or possibly it is. Underneath the bluntness of the delivery, there is a real joy, and I for one would like to see this story continue.      

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you seen Sex Education yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.    

Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Sex Education
Directed by
– Ben Taylor & Kate Herron
Written by – Laurie Nunn, Sophie Goodhart, Laura Neal, Laura Hunter &Freddy Syborn  
Created by – Laurie Nunn
Starring – Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey, Connor Swindells, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Alistair Petrie, Mimi Keene, Aimee Lou Wood, Chaneil Kular & Simone Ashley with James Purefoy, Rakhee Thakrar, Patricia Allison, Samantha Spiro & Mikael Persbrandt.

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