Why Sex Education is One of the Best Shows of the Decade

Sex Education’s highly anticipated third season will arrive on Netflix on the 17th of September 2021.

Credit: News Writeups

Sex Education took everyone by surprise when its first season dropped on Netflix in 2019. With its intelligent representation of people of colour and LGBTQ+ relationships that felt human and real, it became one of the most popular teen dramas on Netflix with over 40 million subscribers watching. 

The original main cast including Otis (Asa Butterfield), Maeve (Emma Mackey), Dr Jean Milburn (GIllian Anderson) and Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) will return. As well as the rest of the cast: Adam (Connor Swindells), Ola (Patricia Allison), Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood), Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling), Lily (Tanya Reynolds), among others. 

Netflix announced that there will be a few new cast members joining Sex Ed for season 3, including Jemima Kirke as Moordale’s new headmistress, Hope. Dua Saleh will cast as Cal, a student who will clash with the new headmistress. And Jason Isaacs will join the cast as Peter Groff, Mr Groffs older brother.  

Sex Education has proved itself as one of the best teen dramas of all time. Unlike a lot of teen dramas we have seen lately, Sex Ed is so well written and shatters stereotypes regarding people of colour, queer relationships and the high school experience in such an intelligent way. Its focus on a plot 100% driven by the characters creates a human connection with viewers.

Here are just a couple of reasons why Sex Education is one of the best shows of the decade.


Racial Diversity is Normal

Credit: Deadline

Sex Education’s cast fully reflects the diverse population of the UK and the show treats its characters of colour with respect. They are written as normal characters with lots of layers and distinct personalities. This is unlike most series, where characters of colour have their personalities suppressed and are reduced to the colour of their skin. Typically, they are only brought to the spotlight when the show wants to talk about racism. 

Sex Ed treats them no differently than their white counterparts, fleshing out their characters, giving them love interests and giving them amazing storylines. A great example of this is Jackson Marchetti, Moordale’s swimming champion and most popular boy. Jackson’s storyline, especially in season 2, revolves around his motivations and aspirations. Exploring the pressure he feels from his mums, his anxiety, finding himself and building friendships. 

Interracial couples are also treated as normal couples, there’s no big song and dance about it. The positive treatment of interracial couples in Sex Ed normalises and creates more acceptance.  This wider representation makes marginalised groups who are not used to seeing themselves accurately represented feel included and accepted.


Accurate Representation of LGBTQ+

Credit: Sex Education via Twitter

Similar to portrayals of ethnically diverse characters being reduced to the colour of their skin, a lot of queer characters are reduced to their sexuality. Sex Education has such a diverse cast of characters with different sexualities but they are not suppressed into “gay storylines”. 

An excellent example of this is seen in fan favourite character and Otis’s best friend Eric Effiong. Eric is intentionally portrayed as the clique’s sassy gay best friend at the start of the show. However, the trope works because being sassy is not his only personality trait. Usually, the gay best friend is tied to the protagonist’s side. But most of his storylines and character development happens away from Otis, breaking the stereotype that he is just a sidekick. 

Eric’s relationship with his father is an excellent juxtaposition to his crazy love life. The writers do a great job of portraying a positive representation of a father-son relationship regarding acceptance. Eric’s father comes from a very different culture and is accepting of him being gay. However, he is not okay with Eric showing the rest of the world out of fear of other people hurting him. The show doesn’t try to villainize Eric’s father for this, instead, they learn from each other and end up closer than ever.


Tackles Weighty Topics 

Credit: Mother Jones


Sex Education has also proved its ability to tackle weighty topics with intelligence and respect. And has been particularly praised for its accurate portal of abortion. According to an article by Teen Vogue, when Emma Mackey’s character Maeve needs an abortion, her experience is mostly true to life. Helen Weems a family nurse practitioner and founder and director of All Families Healthcare in Whitefish commented: 

“I liked that the staff was very professional, the clinic space was clean and bright, and Maeve was well cared for,” Weems told Teen Vogue. “That truly is what independent abortion clinics are like.”

“I liked that the provider discussed contraception and offered Maeve a reliable option, but wasn’t pushy — they offered information and choices but ultimately respected Maeve’s choice regarding contraception.” 

Sexual Assault

Another topic Sex Ed was praised for portraying well was Aimee Lou Wood’s character, Aimee Gibbs’, experience with sexual assault. Aimee who is taking her usual bus route to school with a birthday cake for Maeve sees that the man she is standing next to her is masturbating on her jeans. She doesn’t know what to make of it and brushes it off as she tells Maeve. Maeve encourages her to report it to the police, who interview her and take her jeans as evidence. 

As the season evolves, Aimee becomes haunted by the events but she tries to rationalise it, believing it not worthy of being called assault. This is something a lot of people struggle with when they encounter sexual assault. Often, the representation of sexual assault consists of explicit attacks. In reality, sexual abuse exists in countless iteration with countless effects. 

The writers follow through with the experience as well, taking the time to go through the stages of experiencing such a trauma, not only reducing it down to one episode. Aimee’s character feels the repercussions of the incident throughout the season, it heavily impacts her mental health and the bus becomes a trigger that induces her anxiety. 

In the seventh episode Aimee, Maeve, Olivia, Ola, Lily and Viv share their own experiences with sexual assault, something 1 in 3 women will experience in their lifetime. Sex Ed does an amazing job at providing a vital representation to the target demographic with the goal of encouraging more young women to report these assaults. 


Stereotype Breaking Characters

Credit: Teen Vogue

Most of Sex Education’s characters are initially portrayed as the stereotypical cliché teen drama tropes. However, the writer’s did this intentionally and use these tropes to break stereotypes in their characters. One of the best examples of this is Emma Mackey’s character Maeve. When we first meet Maeve she is a loner but she is strong. However, the Hollywood stereotype for a strong female character seems to be making her really mean and rude. And that seems to be the only personality trait they have. 

The writers use this in a very unique way. They make Maeve extremely rude and mean and don’t make excuses for her behaviour. But more importantly, they make it clear that this is not what makes Maeve strong. She hates everyone and doesn’t have an interest in them unless they can give her something. You slowly learn why she is the way she is but the show still doesn’t use it as an excuse. A lot of Maeve’s development is learning to let people in. 


Love Song to American Teen Rom-Com

Credit: Netflix

Sex Education has been described as a British love letter to classic American teen rom-coms. Fans and critics have spotted many references to classic teen rom-coms, a genre that has slowly been dying out. 

These moments give Sex Education a timeless quality. The best parallels to classic teen rom-coms include Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club and the more recent Love, Simon

Catch new Sex Education on Netflix from the 17th of September 2021.

Check out Netflix’s Sex Education Season 3 Announcement here:

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