Netflix’s British teen comedy, ‘Sex Education’ is every teenage drama the streaming service has already pulled off — controversial, daring, charming, heartwarming, all at the same time; except, it plays with a weird but oddly satisfying mix of the genre’s known and unknown elements.
Hilariously shameless and charming, ‘Sex Education’ is a standout study that goes beyond depths, without sounding too academic to undermine its entertainment value.
At the center of this teen sex-comedy created by Laurie Nunn, is socially awkward high school student, Otis Millburn (Asa Butterfield), who struggles to come into terms with puberty. His mother, Jean (Gillian Anderson), is a sex therapist whose expertise about sex education made her a best-selling author.
Exposed to an environment where accidentally eavesdropping to explicit discussions about sex is no more uncommon, Otis can somehow claim to be a sex expert, only reluctant and “inexperienced”, if you get my drift.
The show’s absolute obsession for “sex” finds its core in Otis and his two friends — Maeve (Emma Mackey), and queer best friend, Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), who both helped him set up an unlicensed sex therapy clinic for Moordale High’s sexually problematic young population. Of course, this comes after Maeve’s realized the potential market they can find in the school’s hormone-confused students, with Otis unenthusiastically accepting the job of playing the clinic’s sex guru.
The show’s high dependence on graphic comedy is extremely evident during the early episodes of its 8-part first season, with most of the gags heavily exploiting the physical misfortunes of the characters “in the bedroom”.
There is an initial reluctance to dive into the deeper and darker portions of the narrative, but as the story grows into complexity, it sheds light on the dangling issues around the show’s central character, Otis. Eric, for example, is embarked on a journey of self-discovery, along with other important figures in the show, including Aimee (Aimee Lou Woods) and Adam (Connor Swindells), who are both stuck in a personal dilemma of identity way past their difficult hormonal tendencies.
The show keeps coming back to Otis, of course, and how he handles all his own troubles at home, but there is a common emotional wallop that brings the stories of characters around him to a similar ground, which ultimately gives the show a to-die-flor mix of heart and chaos. Still, the device deployed to utilize these sentimental strains are not made to erode the comic structure of the characters, for most of them—if not all—still has laugh-out-loud antics to tell.
That being said, ‘Sex Education’ wont find audience in everybody as its humor often gets dark and its notions about its subject matter mostly comes unaccommodating. It excels, nonetheless, in playful emotional manipulation, as it finds balance between the conflicting comic and visceral energies of its plot. It recognizes the confounding intricacy of its subject matter, and while it finds pleasure in dealing with its delicate themes in graphically hilarious fashion, it deems the both the exciting and terrifying aspects of its characters’ individual plights with a tangible sensitivity.
Watch the trailer for Sex Education, below:
Sex Education streams on Netflix starting January 11