Let’s Get Reel: Sex Education

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Alexandra Fosbury ’21, Life & Style Editor

After the first season came to Netflix in 2019, I was immediately hooked on the quirky characters and raw plot of Sex Education. Even though the show is set in England, I feel as though the experiences many of the characters face throughout the show could apply to young adults worldwide.

Without any spoilers, Sex Education is a show that is centered around Otis (Asa Butterfield), a high school student who begins to offer sex advice to his fellow peers for a fee. Otis’ best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) pushes him to join forces with the school’s “bad girl” Maeve (Emma Mackey). However, not only do the two become work partners, but Otis falls in love with her. Season one ended with unresolved feelings by both Otis and Maeve, and that is where season two develops this relationship while also delving into the lives of other characters.

*Spoilers ahead*

In Season Two, a variety of characters experience major changes in their lives. The first plot I found particularly moving in the show was Maeve’s relationship to her mother who is a drug addict. One day Maeve’s mom shows up on her doorstep along with Maeve’s young sister looking for a place to live. Reluctantly, Maeve lets them move in with her (yes, Maeve has been living alone at age sixteen) under the condition that her mother remain sober. As their relationship finally begins to grow closer, Maeve finds out that her mother slipped up again. In the final episode, Maeve calls Child Protective Services on her mother and it is clear that their relationship will forever be ruined, even if Maeve did the right thing. 

Watching Maeve struggle to connect with her mother while still being skeptical after so many years of trauma allowed me, as a viewer, to get a better understanding of why Maeve tends to have such a sheltered, rough exterior. While the relationship between Maeve and her mother changes drastically throughout the show, Maeve’s relationship with her friend Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood) grows stronger. 

Maeve and Aimee’s relationship is probably my favorite relationship in the show because it is the epitome of a powerful set of women lifting each other up. While on a bus, a man masturbates against Aimee, pushing her to report him to the police (an idea that Maeve had). After reporting the event, Aimee gets on another bus to return home but quickly has a panic attack and gets off, fearing she sees the same man on the bus again. This recurring theme of trauma after sexual assault is incorporated throughout the entire season and while Aimee is struggling to feel comfortable getting on a bus again or being touched, Maeve is there to help.

In addition to friendships growing stronger, Eric meets a foreign exchange student who he begins to date but eventually realizes that he is in love with Adam (Connor Swindells), his old high school bully who comes out as bisexual at the end of the show. Otis’ ex-girlfriend Ola (Patricia Allison) also discovers that she is interested in women as well as men after hers and Otis’ relationship fell apart. The reason for the relationship ending? Otis still had feelings for Maeve and Maeve revealed she liked him as well. 

Despite all of the other chaos in the show, it all boils down to Otis and Maeve, who hardly interacted the entire season. In the final episode, Otis declares his love for Maeve over voicemail and goes to her home to tell her in person. When he gets to her house, however, a “friend” of Maeve’s (who is secretly in love with her) finds the voicemail and deletes it, leaving all of us wondering what will happen to Maeve and Otis in the next season.

Although there are many different plots to follow throughout the show, both season one and two do a great job of depicting the “secret” life of many teenagers: confused, insecure, and silently struggling. While I may not relate to many, if any, of the characters myself, I feel as though there is a wide representation of people portrayed on the show and while the topics may be serious or uncomfortable, it is done with wit and humor that makes it so enjoyable to watch. I cannot, of course, comment on the accuracy of many of the characters portrayed, but I think that if you have any free time you should most definitely check out Sex Education. It is the perfect combination of dry, British humor and the raw chaos of a teen drama and most definitely worth a watch.