After the undoubtable success of the first season, the second season of “Sex Education” had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, they pulled it off. All of the favorite main characters return, including Otis (Asa Butterfield), Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and Maeve (Emma Mackey). This season is less focused on Otis and Maeve’s sex clinic, which becomes almost an afterthought, while the individual relationships between the characters, including budding new romances, and the love triangles take center stage.
Season two carries on addressing taboo topics without fear by taking a bold yet sensitive approach when confronting these issues. The show’s honesty and frankness about controversial topics is refreshing and reminds potentially younger viewers that it is healthy to be expressive with their issues. A few of the many topics that are explored include sexual assault, asexuality, consent and pansexuality. However, despite delving into explicit content, the show maintains its comedic character, which keeps the show from becoming too tense or melancholic. Picking up where season one left off, the show dives straight into the element of humour and surprise by kicking off the season with Otis Milburn and his “masturbation problem” where the audience is subjected to many scenes of Otis hurriedly masturbating, with Scala & Kolacny Brothers’ “I Touch Myself” playing in the background.
Otis arguably goes from being the most loved to the most annoying character as the season continues. Although his character does have to confront personal and relationship problems, the audience is exposed to a rude side of him. In one episode, we see Otis get drunk for the first time. He becomes a very egotistical, unlikeable character. This unlikeable aspect of him is highlighted in various other scenes too and he winds up being unkind to a fair few characters, including his loving mother Jean (Gillian Anderson).
The audience is introduced to a lot of new characters in the show, yet the plot does not become messy or confusing despite the numerous plot lines. A lot is packed into the eight one-hour episodes that focuses on both the new and old characters. Character development and pacing is an aspect of season two that helps make the show the success that it is, as every character has their turn in the spotlight and through the brilliant scriptwriting, we are forced to empathize with each character. A good example of character development is evidently seen through the character of Aimee Lou Wood, played by Aimee Gibbs. Her character experiences sexual assault. Harrowing and raw in its depiction, we are reminded of how damaging sexual assault can be and the traumatic consequences it can have on someone’s mental health. However, the aspect of unity is important in this season, as the audience is constantly reminded how important a strong support network is. As always, the theme of friendship is consistent and we are made aware of the importance of communication.
Of course, sex and the many different aspects that it encompasses is still what the show leans on the most. But despite being centred around sex, it is in no way sexy. It is clear through the show’s candidness that it aims to confront the less sexy side of sex and educate its young audience on the problems one might encounter, and this aim is what sets the show apart from others. Problems such as fetishes and vulnerability in the bedroom are all explored in various ways and problems are largely dealt with by advice from friends or Otis’ mother Jean who takes up position as the official school sex therapist.
What carries on being ironic is the aesthetic and visuals of the show. Bright colors, colorful costumes, beautiful scenery and clear high quality American-style production for a show that is gritty and assuredly British in its humor. Arguably, this is what helps it be relatable, as there are elements for everyone to enjoy. The inclusivity and diversity in the show, just like the first season, is outstanding and in this season, we are introduced to Isaac (George Robinson) who is in a wheelchair after an accident and played by an actor that also uses a wheelchair.
“Sex Education” is a binge-worthy show and deserves attention not just from teenagers, but from adults too. It is a comedy-drama that successfully draws on darker topics yet at the same time keeps it light-hearted and funny. Maybe not one to watch with your parents, though.
Rionagh Douglas can be reached at [email protected]