*WARNING: contains sensitive content and spoilers*
Rating: 5 stars
If like me, you thought the first season of Sex Education on Netflix was bound to be the peak of the entire show, you’ll be glad to know that season two is everything that the first season was, and more.
If you haven’t seen it yet, go and watch it. If you want some convincing, or just a general recap of the masterpiece that it is, keep reading for a very brief round-up of why season two of Sex Education gets 5 stars from me (with plenty of SPOILERS, obviously).
To put it simply, Sex Education follows a diverse group of teenagers as they experience all the teenager-y things that many people will have faced (or will come to face at some point). It tackles topics ranging from sexual exploration to navigating a whole range of relationships, stigmas, bullying, assault, sexual health and personal growth. In my opinion, the show’s biggest success is its representation of the LGBTQ+ community. Sex Education excels itself by delving into detailed depictions of its LGBTQ+ characters’ lives. For example, Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), best friend to the main character Otis (Asa Butterfield), is not reduced to the stereotypical funny gay sidekick. He’s not only caught up in his own central love triangle, but his personal struggles – such as feeling the need to tone himself down around his religious family – are presented sensitively and thoughtfully. In contrast with Eric who is openly gay, through the character of Adam (Connor Swindells) we see a representation of internalised homophobia, which manifests itself problematically in homophobic bullying and aggression.
In addition, the show introduces an asexual character called Florence (Mirren Mack) and Ola (Patricia Allison) express that she might identify as pansexual in the most nonchalant manner, a realisation that enables her feelings for Lily (Tanya Reynolds) to develop. Lily and Ola’s evolving relationship offers a refreshing look at the exploration of sexuality.
The show also sheds light on the subject of sexual assault and harassment, particularly through Aimee’s (Aimee Lou Wood) traumatic experience on the school bus when she realises a man standing behind her is masturbating on her leg. While Aimee is initially closed off to the severity of the situation (she’s more concerned about her favourite pair of jeans being ruined), we see her PTSD develop throughout the season, harrowingly and heartbreakingly consuming her. She becomes terrified of getting on the bus altogether and develops a fear of intimacy. I think Aimee’s initial inability to recognise the severity and illegality of the situation suggests how we, as a society, have become desensitised to various forms of violence, putting them in danger of becoming normalised. And then, in what I found to be one of the most moving and empowering scenes of the season, Aimee, Maeve (Emma Mackey) and a group of girls from different cliques bond in detention through their shared experiences of some form of assault or harassment, such as being groped or slut-shamed – which, sadly, are too common. It’s tough to watch, but it depicts the harsh reality of ‘everyday’ sexual assault and reminds us of the importance of raising awareness of it.
As well as the above, the show addresses an array of other life experiences and struggles. The importance of healthy communication and consent is particularly demonstrated through Ola and Otis’ relationship, and the importance of platonic love is shown through the development of friendships – for example, between Ola and Adam, and Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) and new character Viv (Chinenye Ezeudu).
Speaking of Jackson – the insight into his multi-layered character throughout this season is extensive. Developing from a seemingly ‘perfect’ guy to one with a much darker reality – which involves suffering from emotionally manipulative (though arguably unintentionally so) parenting, peer pressure and self-harm – we see Jackson’s internal struggle spiral to a dark extent. But he does discover his own identity, normalising men’s mental health issues and reminding us that everyone is fighting their own battles – even the guy with the illusory, ‘perfect’ life.
And that’s not even close to revealing everything this season has to offer. The best part is that Sex Education is representative and inclusive in ways that feel natural and authentic. The show handles sensitive subjects carefully, whilst striking a perfect balance of comedy and honesty, with romance and lust, which serves as a refreshing and real depiction. Seriously, go and watch it if you haven’t already.
– Leyla Mohammed