Arts and Entertainment

Let’s Talk About Sex (Again)

A review of “Sex Education” season two and why it’s so appealing to such a large audience.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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By Fariha Mabud

“Sex Education” doesn’t waste any time getting back into the awkwardness that makes the show so fun to watch. Its second season begins by paneling over Otis (Asa Butterfield), who after spending the first season being unable to and complaining about it, spends the opening scene of the first episode masturbating nonstop. It’s a bold start to the new season, but it assures viewers that season two will be just as funny, embarrassing and chaotic as its first.

The second season picks up right where the first season left off but makes sure to give its viewers an understanding of where all the characters are now. Otis, the awkward virgin who ran an underground sex clinic, is finally in a relationship with Ola (Patricia Allison), the daughter of the man his mother Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson) is dating. Eric Effiong (Ncuti Gatwa), Otis’s best friend, is now in his first gay relationship with a new student. Meanwhile, Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey) quickly manages to get re-enrolled into school after being expelled by blackmailing her principal with their school’s rampant cheating. After a chlamydia outbreak rips through the school, Otis and Maeve agree to run the clinic once again, and Otis’s mother comes in as an interim sex counselor.

After watching the first season, I was sure the show had peaked. In an ocean of misogynistic, boring, and repetitive shows about teenagers navigating the tricky waters of sex, drugs, and high school, “Sex Education” brings a completely new perspective to all of these topics and goes above and beyond in its second season. Instead of ignoring the awkwardness that surrounds adolescence, “Sex Education” makes this subject its first priority by addressing real problems that teenagers face: anxiety, disabilities, consent, sexual harassment, and much more.

It’s common for new shows to include greater diversity as the public pushes for representation in the media, but what separates “Sex Education” from shows like “Orange Is The New Black” (2012-2019) or “Insatiable” (2018-) is that in this past season, it has represented the largest diversity of characters I’ve ever seen in a TV show. This show elevates past the overused tropes that so many shows simply throw into their character pool to make it seem appealing to a wide variety of viewers.

Season two brings brand new characters to the table, like an asexual character who feels broken for not wanting to have sex. Struggles with sexuality seem to be swept under the rug in much of entertainment considering that there are still many people who believe that sexuality doesn’t exist outside of “gay” or “straight.” However, “Sex Education” makes sure to shine some light on people of each sexual orientation, which I’m sure resonated with millions of viewers besides myself. It also introduces a disabled character named Isaac (George Robinson) who, for once, isn’t the laughingstock of the show or pitied miserably as so many disabled characters have been in other programs.

The show also dedicated an entire episode to talk about the aftermath of dealing with sexual harassment. Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood), one of Maeve’s friends, gets harassed on the bus and experiences flashbacks every time she rides the bus to school. While in detention, Aimee and five other girls each share an instance in which they were sexually harassed. For young girls who have experienced sexual harassment in their lives, this scene was especially significant, as sexual harassment is often taken as a joke or ignored completely in TV and the media.

“Sex Education” also brilliantly manages to expose the typical difficulties teenagers can face by introducing a multitude of subplots that are each interconnected, mature, and all the while funny. A personal favorite storyline of mine is the relationship between Jackson Marchetti (Kedar Williams-Stirling), the school’s head boy and swimming champion, and quiz team captain Viv (Chinenye Ezeudu). Jackson promises to help Viv get with a boy that she likes and in exchange, Viv promises to help Jackson with his acting in the school’s production of “Romeo and Juliet.” The two end up helping each other pursue their respective love interests and hobbies and even help each other cope with anxiety, a problem that specifically follows Jackson throughout the show and becomes a pillar of his character development.

Jackson and Viv deeply support each other as friends, and their relationship doesn’t include some awkward stalemate where one party isn’t capable of confessing their love for the other. Unlike almost every other relationship between male and female characters in these types of shows, this friendship focuses mainly on the well-being of the people involved, which allows both characters to freely develop.

“Sex Education” tackles a multitude of topics that the media has swept aside by using raw honesty and humor to make them more understandable and relatable. It’s no surprise its second season has a 94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as this show manages to resonate with so many different people. The new season of “Sex Education” shatters every expectation, stereotype, and standard of how adolescence is typically portrayed in entertainment. It’s shows like these that give hope and comfort to people of underrepresented races and sexualities. It’s one of the few shows that truly understand what it means to actually be diverse and succeeds in doing so. There’s no doubt that season two has made “Sex Education” one of Netflix’s best shows and has left its viewers hungry for another season.