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Netflix’s Sex Education Makes You Awkward and Then Gives Solution

The show is hilarious in the use of slapstick, situational comedy, one- liners and silence.

Devasheesh Pandey |

Updated:January 17, 2019, 4:17 PM IST
Netflix’s Sex Education Makes You Awkward and Then Gives Solution
A still from Sex Education.
Let’s talk about your problem.

Sex Education, the latest original offering from Netflix, does just that. Developed and written by Laurie Nunn, it’s a British dramedy headlined by Gillian Anderson, Asa Butterfield, Emma Mackey, Ncuti Gatwa, Connor Swindells, and Kedar Williams-Stirling.

It follows the stories of a pack of socially awkward teenagers who embark on sexual misadventures and end up looking out for each other.

Otis (Asa Butterfield), after realising his non- superhuman ability to actually listen to others, is driven to help his schoolmates to deal with their sexual problems. Like therapy, it is expected to make one accept and love themselves. He lives with his sex-therapist mother, Jean (Gillian Anderson) and has accumulated some insight relating to adult sexual issues by eavesdropping on her sessions, taking notes, reading about human anatomy and just listening.

He himself is as socially awkward as those around him. His only friend is Eric, (Ncuti Gatwa) a homosexual who likes to cross-dress. Eric’s father is unable to connect with him and he also has a bully at school, picking on him. Adam (Connor Swindells), the headmaster’s son, is cautious about his genitalia and has difficulty ejaculating and accepting authority. But, mostly he is lonely.

Maeve (Emma Mackey) is a misfit at school. It is what others have her believe. She takes to setting up a sex clinic in school, headlined by Otis. She romances Jackson, an upcoming and focused athlete (Kedar Williams-Stirling).

They are all alone in their battle to reveal the best of themselves to themselves, which renders this comedy drama a show well grounded in reality of Moordale Secondary School.

The show is hilarious in the use of slapstick, situational comedy, one- liners and silence. Most of all, its use of reality as a trope to generate humour is what terrifically works in its favour. Otis takes his sessions almost anywhere, which is bizarre as far as the therapy goes. He meets patients, if, when and wherever they appear.

Broken toilets, abortion clinic, sports competitions, bathrooms and malls are his safe- zone. In the process of helping others move past their ‘shame’ he comes closer to his own reality, which is that he is not able to get an arousal.

Like in society, there is a lack of an adult role model in the series. Adam’s father (Alistair Petrie), Eric’s father (DeObia Oparei), Otis’ mother (Gillian Anderson), Otis’ father (James Purefoy), Mr. Hendricks (Jim Howick) are there to parody adulthood and they do a great job at that.

With an aspirational society surrounding us, pitting one child against another, in a hopeless and never ending cycle of achievement, glory and reward, teenage life often gets clouded by expectations. In the process, significant things get sidelined and teenagers become unnecessarily competitive and socially awkward.

Sex education talks of these matters and takes up the issue of sex as an aspect of health. That is its biggest and most honest accomplishment.

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