99 Problems but Sex Education ain’t one of ’em

Anyone ever entertain the idea that maybe Gillian Anderson ceased to age? Sex Education has her playing Jean Milburn, a stunning sex therapist, who to the horror of her teenage son, proudly displays karma sutra portraits and wooden penises around her home. Seems perfect for a teen house party, really. Not sure what the commotion is about.

Jean with her seemingly resilient exterior, is wise and exudes elegance, yet appears slightly jaded about committing to romantic relationships for herself – largely due to having had the unfortunate experience of an unfaithful husband (the father of her only son) .

Profile: Vagina workshops , not interested in dating anyone, extremely busy with work and raising her son and has no time for the intimacy you crave.

The series provides  a brave and relatable perspective of adolescents discovering not only puberty but also the spectrum of sexuality and social experiences of the modern age.  

It also lends an uplifting take for adults, showing that adulting is not all about having it all figured out, but how we react and transcend from life’s little curveballs.

The dialogues are authentically familiar and depict  how we commonly and unwittingly tend to succumb to societal pressure and emotional projections.  It is only when we make the tough choices that we are set on the grueling path  of self-discovery and perchance encounter the better version of ourselves.

Ohh nothing really, just figuring out how the school bully is going to kill me in my own house. No biggie…

Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) is that awkward teenager who believes himself to be utterly clueless about life, love, and even his own body. In actuality, Otis is a remarkably self-aware young man, with a knack for counseling picked up from eavesdropping on his mother’s therapy sessions with clients at home.

“I think you need to own your narrative, not let it control you. Be proud of your penis, and your heritage. You should work with what you’ve got.” ~Otis Milburn

Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey), a semi-rebellious underdog with her street eloquent personality discovers and finds a way to monetize Otis’s gift after watching him “talk down the school bully’s, Viagra-induced erection. Thus, concludes Otis’s ironic career as the school’s sex counselor. All successful businesses have a great story, don’t they?

Maeve evolves into a love interest for Otis, and as with all great love interests, timing can be a little pain in the ass. Despite having derived a  slut reputation in school, Maeve appears completely unaffected by her peers and fronts a tough demeanor that belies the reality of her situation as an orphan left to fend for herself and leading her to hustle for money to pay the rent.

Gaining support in odd places. Women supporting each other through brave yet painful life decisions.

Eric Effoing (Ncuti Gatwa) plays Otis’ proudly gay best friend. Eric ’s persona inspires us all to be a little braver in facing up to life and pursue one that we truly desire. Eric’s journey delves into finding acceptance for his inner self and the price paid for being quiet or outward about it to the public and his own family. Eric and his father become unlikely co-conspirators as they help each other to shield their loved ones from the repercussions of each other’s “secret”. The parallels drawn in the oppression faced by Eric as a gay man and Eric’s father as a black man becomes the defining factor that unites father and son.

Eric making a bold statement. SO Unapologetically awesome.

The 8-episode series showcases strong developments not only for the main protagonists but also for the antagonist, Adam Groff (Connor Swindells), as the cliché school bully who also happens to be the school principal’s son. We’re led to empathize with this rowdy character as facets of Adam’s home life are shown. He is often ignored and chastised by his father and appears to be constantly crushed by expectations he could not fulfill.  

Adam Groff is possibly the only character who lacked support from either friends or family, Adam lashes out on anyone to feel as if he has control of some parts of his life. Contrasting from Eric’s character, Adam does not rise to make a statement.

Adam: “He’s got big massive elephant’s cock” – I’ve got feelings! Even the bully has emotions y’all. Be kind.

Despite the trope plot, Sex Education succeeds to provide a rather nuanced take in retelling the teenage perspective of growing up in the 21st century. It delivers a powerful message on the complexity of emotions that we often find incomprehensible ourselves and spend years unraveling. It showcases the taboo aspects of sexuality and social acceptance with subtle clarity and lighthearted humor.

It does, if not entertain, provide a large slice of humble pie.

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