help! i’m obsessed with netflix’s ‘sex education’
I want Gillian Anderson to grill me about my innermost embarrassing thoughts.
Image courtesy of Netflix
Of the many things Netflix’s new comedy Sex Education might achieve, chief among them will be dispelling the notion that it’s cool to have a ‘cool mom.’ That’s what 16-year-old Otis, played by Asa Butterfield, has to deal with — a mother who is both a sex therapist, and Gillian Anderson (or, played by her). Frankly, however, it’s not going very well. Otis is having trouble with losing his virginity, or even masturbating, probably because of his parents’ insistence on grilling him about his sexuality at every moment possible (thank God most parents don’t start breakfast conversations like Jean does, with “Sweetheart – I’ve noticed you’re pretending to masturbate”).
More typically, the exceptionally square Otis has a crush on an ever so slightly “bad girl”, Maeve (Emma Mackey), who somehow lures him into doing what he hates most — sex therapy classes for his hapless schoolmates. What follows is a litany of hilarious, yet relatable complaints, from not knowing what gives you sexual pleasure, to not knowing how to give a blowjob, to having a dick that’s too huge. Okay maybe that’s one of the less believable storylines — not entirely sure how that is a problem. Anyway, following Otis and his best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) around their small, sex-obsessed British town is a joy, and makes for a show that’s both totally filthy and strangely touching.
The genius of the show is that, while there might be a lot of talk of scissoring and bumholes, what it really makes you think about are relationships and intimacy, or the lack of it. Sex Education explores how a generation brought up on hardcore porn might learn to love each other, in and out of the bedroom, (or the abandoned toilets, or wherever teenagers are doing it). This isn’t to say the adults are left out — we see Anderson trying to deal with the fact that her son is 16 and isn’t being particularly charming, and her own desire for intimacy and not just sex. With actual sex education under threat, it seems timely that we have mother-son sex therapists Jean and Otis to sort us out.