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Let’s Go to the Clinic!

“Sex Education” is marked by a cast with an effortless charm and heartfelt performances. PHOTO/ Netflix

By Assibi Ali

 

Published: February 6th, 2019

If you were avoiding your winter homework and keeping up with the latest Netflix releases, you may have come across the witty and stimulating masterpiece that is Sex Education. Sex Education, a British dramedy released by the streaming service in early January, follows the adventures of resident nerd Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), loud and proud Eric Effiong (Ncuti Gatwa), and local bad-girl Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey). They are joined by an ensemble cast featuring Dr. Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson), Otis’ mother and a brutally honest sex therapist; Mr. Groff (Alistair Petrie), the headmaster of the school which the characters attend who has an aggressive relationship with his son; Adam Groff (Connor Swindelis), the headmaster’s son, who takes out his misplaced anger on an undeserving Eric; and Jackson Marchetti (Kedar Williams-Stirling), the most popular boy at school who doubles as the school’s swim team champion.  

Milburn has the pleasure of being outcast at his school for his mother’s very unconventional occupation. I can imagine that it’d get awkward bringing friends over to get their sexual habits examined at the dinner table. Eric rings in the new school year by teasing Otis for not losing his virginity over the summer along with everyone else at school. *Cue flashback to Otis trying (and failing) to masturbate in his bedroom.* Later on, the protagonists are faced with their first sex-dilemma: Adam felt intense pressure to perform well in bed, having rumored to own the biggest… attachment of all the boys in school. The pressure began to negatively affect his relationship with girlfriend Aimee Gibbs (Aimee Lou Wood).

His solution? Overdosing on Viagra. In what could perhaps be the most awkward skill to coincidentally possess, Otis channels his mother sexual intuition and starts speaking to Adam as if he were a client. One would think Otis regularly led advanced discourse on how to mend teen relationships and cope with sexual insecurities. Adam was convinced by Otis to “own his narrative,” advice that he assumed meant flash his thing in front of the entire student body in the cafeteria.

The whirlwind of a first episode ends with Maeve, an entrepreneur at heart, convincing Otis to join her in operating an underground sex clinic at the school for money. You can rest assured that the absurdity only seems to increase as time goes on. At its heart, Sex Education is more than just zany, moody, aggressively horny teenagers shagging each other in the projector room. It covered tender issues that spanned the whole season, such as Otis’ fear of sexual stimulation, Jean exploring casual dating after separating from her unfaithful husband, and a more personal storyline featuring Eric’s struggle to please his religious family while keeping in touch with his identity. Eric, a queer black male, is a regular participant in drag culture and is found at his best and brightest wearing more colors than humanity has identified. Part of his journey sees him come face to face with the harsh pains of what his identity and passions can bring him. Turn on Netflix, watch the series, and then cry with me in unison when you get to it.

Recently renewed for a second season, fans like me who are itching to see what happens next with our friends from the other-side-of-the-pond might not have to wait as long as we thought! Netflix’s quarterly earnings report illustrate Sex Education is on the rise to hit the 40 million mark within a month. The cast has an effortless charm to them, with heartfelt performances that drive you to be invested in the growth and development of their characters. The characters don’t have the most gentle relationship with each other, in fact it’s downright brutal how they treat each other. However, the underlying message that’s core to the series is to lead with love. Eric overcomes trauma with a brave face, Maeve discovers her inner voice, and Otis learns that maybe there really is someone out there for everybody.

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