The Sunday Magazine: Netflix’s Sex Education

If there is anything which shows there is a large part of me which refuses to accept my age it is my love of the teen drama. Well past my teens the movies of John Hughes showed there was a part of me which always enjoyed the goings on of teenagers looking for love. Now in this era of peak television a series on Netflix called Sex Education is a new way to tell an old story.

Sex Education is an eight-episode series created by Laurie Nunn who wrote five of the episodes. The series is a long form version of all the classic tropes. A group of three protagonists; the virgin, the gay man, and the misunderstood girl form the central triangle at the heart of the series. Ms. Nunn does a delightful job taking these story devices into the current day.

The basic set up is Otis is a virgin who can’t even masturbate because his single mother is a famous sex therapist. His best friend Eric is one of only two out gay students at their private high school who lives in a strict religious family. Maeve is the girl who lives in the trailer park with the bad reputation. Maeve realizes Otis has absorbed a lot from listening to his mother talk about sex. Maeve gets the idea for him to be the therapist to the school’s lovelorn. Eric is there as the best friend who supports and warns of the pitfalls. Over the eight episodes these three stories are told cleverly even though they are familiar.

The young actors are fantastic. Asa Butterfield as Otis is just the right mixture of awkward frustration having to talk about sex while not having any. Ncuti Gatwa is allowed to take the best friend’s story arc into much broader places as we see him coping with his father’s disapproval. Emma Mackey plays Maeve with a balance of I don’t care/ I care which provides a sympathetic spin on her choices. The final part of the acting I must mention is Gillian Anderson who plays Otis’ mother, Jean. Ms. Anderson shines as one of the few adults with something to do.

Ms. Nunn keeps the plot moving along and by the end our characters haven’t exactly found happily ever after; because there is a season 2 coming. By the end of Season 1 things have changed enough for all three that they won’t be retreading the same problems.

If you’re looking for a fun binge watch in your Netflix queue give Sex Education a try.

Mark Behnke

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