Discussing the impact of Netflix’s “Sex Education”


Photo credit: bestlifeonline.com

Deja Magee

In a post “Big Mouth” climate, Netflix has been scouting for creators that are starting to tackle issues that have been driving pop culture and teenage culture in new and invigorating ways.

Writers are taking a look at how sex in society can affect young adults at various tumultuous times in their lives. Although the aforementioned “Big Mouth” is based on Nick Kroll and best friend Andrew Goldberg’s middle school days, Netflix’s newest original show, “Sex Education,” takes the topic of sex into the realm of high school.

“Sex Education,” created by Laurie Nunn, is a British show that tells the story of Otis Milburn (played by the adorably awkward and all-grown-up Asa Butterfield). Otis is an awkward 16-year-old boy who’s a virgin trying to stay invisible in his last two years of high school. Alongside him is his friend Eric (played by Ncuti Gatwa) who is an aspiring social climber, and one of the two out gay kids in their school.

Otis is the son of a divorced sex therapist (played by “The X-Files” star Gillian Anderson). Even though Otis himself hasn’t actually had sex yet, he is well-versed in the subject because of his mother.

Resident rebel schoolgirl, Maeve Wiley (played by Emma Mackay), wants to acquire Otis’s vast knowledge on sex to set up an underground sex therapy clinic at their school for profit. He reluctantly agrees after he helps the school bully out of a Viagra-induced erection, all because he can’t perform well in bed.

Compared to other forms of movies and TV shows, the way that they tackle sex and sexuality is vastly different from the way “Sex Education” handles the technique of the “uncomfortable birds and the bees” talk in a way that isn’t awkward in the first place.

In an article with RadioTimes.com, Nunn and series director Ben Taylor explain how they wanted to mix the tropes that American media made popular while still having the dry British flair that is known with British television.

“I’ve always been really influenced by American film and TV shows; they played a really big part in my own teenage years, so that was always something I wanted to come back to,” explained Nunn.

Premiering in early January, the Netflix import takes a look at how difficult sex can be to navigate when people are young. From the reaction the show has gotten, it’s safe to say that it is a big success that nobody knew was needed.

Some of the topics that they discuss in the show range from teen pregnancy and abortion, being a first generation child from an immigrant family who happens to be gay, asexuality, revenge porn and cyberbullying, just to name a few.

In a society where sex is considered a controversial subject to discuss among young adults, Nunn’s original series does a fantastic job at articulating the problems that they go through as they try to navigate and take ownership of their own bodies. In the process of doing that, they discover that sex can be messy and imperfect, but they can still make it worth their while.

However, the series does bring up some questions about real-life situations and why sex is such a taboo topic when being discussed between friends, family and even significant others towards one another.

CSUN anthropology professor, Wallace Zane, shared his opinion on the reasons why society (especially American society) is so prudish when it comes to sex when it pertains to young adults:

“I think it’s coming back from the earlier time when women had less control over their lives, and then sexuality will be one of the things that will be controlled,” Zane said. “Anything to be a subject of conversation that opens up the possibility of questioning it, and I think that’s where the taboo comes into question. Then that would make it less likely to change because if you don’t question it, then you won’t say, ‘Well why am I this way?'”