12th Feb2020

‘Sex Education: Season 2’ Review (Netflix)

by Rhys Payne

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I have to confess, to start this review, that I have a slight bias for this show as I personally appear in the background as an extra and I was also invited to the Welsh premier screening… but I will try to remain as unbiased as possible. Sex Education is a coming-of-age comedy, a Netflix original series that shows the stresses and anxieties facing many young people today in a comical but extremely real way. The show explores the idea of the sexuality of young people and how this can be an extremely difficult time as they develop; and because of this, the show contains very strong sexual reference and imagery which is probably not appropriate for a young audience, instead I would say more so for a teenage audience and older. It’s an extremely easy watch with comedy integrated throughout, sitting alongside some very hard-hitting and serious topics. The creative team who worked on this show clearly through thoroughly about what this show is and the gap in the TV market it fills.

One of the most hilarious scenes in the entire season was when Otis’ mother becomes a PSE teacher and during her welcome talk decides to sing the lyrics of the iconic Salt ‘n’ Pepper song “Let’s Talk About Sex” which made even me cringe through the screen as I can imagine the embarrassment of someone like that singing in an assembly, especially when it’s your own mother! Related to the song choice, they also used another Salt ‘n’ Pepper song “Push It” during the opening of the episode too which again was a hilarious choice due to the nature of the “activities” on screen. They seemed to have an interest in Salt ‘n’ Pepper during this series which receives no complaints from me – it’s great as they are often, IMHO, forgotten about. The first couple of episodes in this series open with some form of sexual activities and this was clearly intentional as during episode 4 the same scene was built but instead Otis was playing video games which were hilariously funny. The creators had clearly thought long term about how the show would build, which is great to watch as well as being extremely clever. This is a show set in the modern-day and because of this their many things that young people would recognise. It’s a true and honest reflection of teenage life and its great to see this real portrayal rather than the skewed one many shows portray. There are references to Super Smash Bro’s and Candy Crush with the different ages playing respectively which was extremely clever. This is a special show for many people as it is Welsh made and produced. Sex Education is filmed across many key places in Wales such as Usw Newport, Margam park and at David’s Hall which is great to see in a popular mainstream show on the massive network that is Netflix.

In Sex Education, there are two therapy services being run in parallel – Otis’ and his mother’s – because of this, the show is able to talk about many things is a serious but also natural way. There is a point in the season where that talk about the importance of listening to your partners, how it’s okay for men to cry, asexuality and they make a point to bring young peoples mental health into the spotlight. These are all fantastic issues that needs more mainstream attention and as Sex Education is talking about these often forgotten themes makes them a forerunner and a piece of very important television.

I physically cannot write a review of Sex Education without mentioning the iconic bus scene…. There is a sexual assault storyline that is introduced in a respectful way and the way it is dealt with just blew me away. There is a key scene where the victim is having regrets about reporting her abuser and thinking she is wasting police time, which is such a true reflection of what happens in real life. If this was the only scene then that would have been fine because of the impact of what they show and sicuss but it wasn’t. The episode ends with a group of women coming together and all getting the bus together which was where the crime occurred. It is so important for the show to show women coming together as this barely ever happens on television. It’s an extremely important inclusion and is one the most important storylines I have seen in a long time!

If you have watched season one of Sex Education you will be familiar with the amazing friendship between Otis and Erik (played by Asa Butterfield and Ncuti Gatwa) they have such a special relationship and is great to see two guys being close friends in a way that isn’t laddish. Erik is an extremely iconic character that has ridiculously hilarious lines. We have already seen so many memes of things Erik has said because is such an icon. This season Erik is involved in an awkward love triangle which is extremely frustrating but his excitement and his face(s) when he realises someone loves him is so relatable and is pure comedy gold. There is a scene where they are dancing on a dance machine, however we are going to ignore the fact he misses all the steps because there is visible joy and happiness occurring, which really was the purpose of the scene.

My favourite character in this season is Adam Groff who is played by Conor Swindells – because of how excellently he plays this role. Through this season he is coming to terms with his sexuality which is obviously a problem many closeted LGBT+ viewers will face so that is a fantastic inclusion. He also has many hilariously funny lines and scenes. During the latter part of the season, there is an extremely emotional scene where he gets overjoyed when someone calls him their friend which I personally relate to. This character starts season one being the school bully and by the end of this season he becomes a really loveable guy. Despite all this, the purpose of this character is for everyone to feel sorry for him but unfortunately, I did not feel this. There is a new character that is introduced in this season who is called Rahim who is played by Sami Outalbali who started the season being a creepy and mysterious character obsessed with Erik. At first, he did make me genuinely uncomfortable which is great from a character perspective but this is the character that also had all my sympathy by the end.

Overall this season helped continue all the fun of season one while diving deeper into important issue among young people. I am going to have to talk about it again but the bus scene is one of the most important pieces of television I have watched in a long time! If you like the idea of a hilarious show that offers a realistic reflection of real-life while dealing with many extremely important themes and motifs then watch Sex Education

****½  4.5/5

Sex Education: Season 2 is on Netflix now.

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