Articles - 16th January 2019

Netflix’s Sex Education is awkward, funny and, most importantly, honest

Words by Chloë Crowther

The world of Sex Education, out on Netflix now, is a brilliantly styled world of collective myth -somewhere between the rolling Welsh hills and a John Cusack rom-com. Ironically, the obvious artifice in this amalgamation of cultures only serves to create a far more honest depiction of what it is to be young, British, and under the spell of American media.

The writing is sharp, honest, and sweet, with brilliant lines like the comparison between a scrotum and a “wonky discount avocado”, delivered with spark by Ncuti Gatwa, as Eric Effiong, the best friend to protagonist Otis Milburn, played by Asa Butterfield.

Otis is an awkward kid with a sex therapist mother played by Gillian Anderson, the queer icon and all-around crush material. Along with fellow outcast Maeve Wiley, played by Emma Mackey, Otis uses the analytical skills he picks up from his home life to help his fellow schoolmates with their sex lives – for a fee, of course.

It is so completely refreshing to see sex, and the mess of feelings that often come with it, being spoken about so frankly and without the shame that often surrounds such subjects in British households. This in itself feels worthy of labelling the show revolutionary.

But, there’s more! Each actor’s performance in Sex Education is credible and glowing, and the moments of comedy shine through almost perfectly, subverting and at the same time honouring the genre formulae of the American teen film.

Although it seems to be a show that is already catalysing divisive opinions, what’s good TV without a little drama? Laurie Nunn has created a fantastic and coherent world, where fantasy and emotional honesty lie draped over each other to make something visually gorgeous, clever, and extremely necessary.

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