Sex Education breaks through the taboo around teenage sex but falls to overplayed clichés

Sadly, the most sex-positive high-school comedy show of 2019 has a predictable plot

Image courtesy of Netflix

 By: Yelin Gemma Lee


Sex Education is a nitty-gritty, in-depth exploration of high schoolers’ sex lives, fully loaded with awkwardness, charming characters, and physical comedy.

The new British Netflix show follows Otis, a sexually inexperienced outcast in school whose mom is a sex therapist. He teams up with the school’s notorious bad girl, Maeve, to give sex advice to other students at the school — whether it’s on getting a better shag, destigmatizing females wanking, or helping couples learn about communication. While their scheme starts with motives to find social liberation and get some cash, the two underground business partners become unlikely friends.

The show is remarkably unique from any other show revolving around sex comedy. Sex Education is centred around teenage sex lives, but it approaches the taboo topic with such openness and lack of filter.  It discusses fetish, masturbation, abortion, queer sex, etc. Through Otis’ personal development and the advice he gives, the show conveys the importance of communication, connection, and consent — in sex and overall in life.

Although the show deserves high praise, and it will likely go down as a Gen. Z iconic show, it was full of classic high school comedy clichés that I was disappointed to find in an otherwise brilliant show. The mean teacher/headmaster. The flamboyant gay best friend who gets bullied by a dumb mean jock. Of course Maeve, the hot bad girl of the school who is actually whip smart and has heartbreaking family issues that make her outwardly cold. And of course the main protagonist, an awkward lanky outsider, is absolutely in love with a girl that the show presents as someone that is way out of his league.

If these stereotypes sound familiar to you, it’s probably because you saw them in every teenage coming-of-age indie movie and YA book ever.

Aside from that, the show’s attentiveness to character quirks and details are unique and clever as hell, and the actual premise of the show being based around healthy conversations about sex (finally!) is daring and powerful. If this show was so set on breaking barriers and looking good while doing it, why didn’t they go all in and throw stereotypes and clichés out the window? What about a queer-as-hell protagonist? A happy ending for the suppressed gay son of the headmaster?

Netflix announced that Sex Education is renewed for a second season, so here’s hoping that they go big instead of going home. Sex Education is progressive, inclusive, fearless, funny, and charming, but if they can be all that, they have the potential to be even better in season two by throwing in some plot twists to put it off it’s current predictable course.