Sex Education: Season 1
January 16, 2019 12:37 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

A teenage boy with a sex therapist mother teams up with a high school classmate to set up an underground sex therapy clinic at school.
posted by Pendragon (24 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ok! So the line that actually made me laugh out loud was in episode 5, I think, where Ruby described Otis as looking like a Victorian ghost (and then in later episodes there were a couple of other similar mentions).

I really liked the relationship between Eric and his father; I thought the show did a good job showing how the father was both uncomfortable and still very loving.

I had the hardest time with Adam's storyline, though some of that might have been that while Asa Butterfiled does look young enough to be play 16, the actor playing Adam looked 35 to me. Also I thought his sudden fling with Eric was super predictable.
posted by TwoStride at 8:34 PM on January 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

Guardian review.
posted by rongorongo at 2:53 AM on January 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Well, to be fair, I knew people in high school who looked 30+ years old. Just like you have people who look eternally young.
posted by Pendragon at 2:53 AM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was gonna skip this until I saw the positive reactions in the first episode thread, and I'm glad I watched it.   It is delightfully goofy and surprisingly warm-hearted at the same time.   I particularly liked the bizarre amalgamation of British and American schooling, and that they almost totally ignored the anachronisms outside of lampshading things like the dance.  It feels very cleverly put together, layering anachronism after anachronism so audiences on both sides of the Atlantic will be able to recognize their own culture, but constructed so that you'd just know they weren't trying to recreate reality.  Instead you just shrug and go along with it.

And the music!  I laughed out loud in pure happy shock when it ended on Sigue Sigue Sputnik.  Maybe they're fondly remembered in the UK, but on the American side they went entirely under all the radar but for college radio.   I'm pretty sure the words "Holy shit, Sigue Sigue Sputnik?!" passed my lips.  It absolutely tickled me that they doubled down on the entire sex education angle by consistently choosing songs so on-point it was clearly a running joke in and of itself.  And for all my fellow MeFites too young to remember or know a song so obscure, that last song as Otis finally resolved his 'issue' was Love Missile F1-11, lol.  I'm gonna have to go back rewatch it at some point and see what music I missed.  I wasn't really paying attention until Billy Idol's 'Dancing With Myself' came on and my brain did a record scratch.

Gillian Anderson's character though, she was just the worst!  Man, talk about boundary issues.  I loved her character regardless though.

Dear God but what I wouldn't have given to see this back in the 80s when I was a teenager though.  I am so jealous of all the kids today getting to grow up with fare like this available normalizing different flavors of people.  It makes me weep to think of what it would have meant to the queer, terrified, closeted teenage boy I was in the 80s if I'd have been able to watch this and know I wasn't alone.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 2:10 PM on January 17, 2019 [14 favorites]

I have just binged the whole thing. I love everyone. Even the ones I hate like shitty Sean Wiley and what have you. I too would have murdered for this show as a kid. I love Ola (a Swedish boy's name?! Also pronounced by most of the cast as Olla, which means to touch things with the head of your penis) and I love the boy who hugs Eric on his birthday, and Erics dad. And my heat breaks for Adam even though he's a prick. I love the weirdness of 80's USA in present day UK. Vagina-Spartacus had me in stitches.

Also, is it just me or did they do a great job of having people look like their relatives? I had to google if Headmaster and Adam were related or not (not). Jackson is very like one of his mams, the Wiley siblings are really similar looking too with that ugly-good-looking sharpness and so on.
posted by Iteki at 7:23 AM on January 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Just finished watching the whole thing. I really enjoyed it and I can't imagine if this was the teen fare I watched growing up (huge Breakfast Club fan here). Are kids really this cavalier about sex? I think most are somewhere in between Eric and his debilitating fear and Aimee's brazenness. Though the first thing I really loved about this show was her insistence that Adam fuck off! That's some great modeling.

And Jean. Oh man. As a mom, I felt like I was watching her through my fingers in fascinated horror. She really was a great character and it was so fun seeing Gillian Anderson in this role.

The Adam/Eric part was...sort of predictable but the way they did it actually kind of seemed to work. It went somewhat out of the lane there in a good way and Adam is definitely not redeemed at the end even as you feel a bit sad for him. I might watch the whole thing again!
posted by amanda at 8:07 AM on January 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

My favorite line was when the blond girl was making a pro/con mind map about Maeve dating Jackson, and after arguing about whether or not Jackson could be president, she wrote, “Basically Obama.” Cross-cultural time-traveling teen TV highlight for sure.
posted by Maarika at 5:40 PM on January 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Another Guardian review - this one is negative. One of the things the reviewers picks up is Netflix's report that 40 million accounts have watched * Sex Education to date - in terms of number of viewers, that would put the series equivalent to the #4 most viewed movie of 2018 - but those latter figures are based on global sales after several months of release and they are individual tickets rather than for households. The Netflix figures were also clocked up in just 10 days. That is a pretty phenomenal level of global cultural impact.

* Netflix are a bit coy about saying what they mean by "watched" in this context. For their similar figures for Bird Box, they claim it means that at least 70% of the content, including credits, has been viewed - presumably those figures would apply to episode 1 at least. Note that Netflix is available in every country apart from China
posted by rongorongo at 9:49 PM on January 22, 2019

I enjoyed the series - I felt it was better than the trailer, and I was entertained watching it.
I'm taking this as a sign that it's possible to make decent "comedies" on netflix, and it's kind of a relief to have a not-so serious show from time to time. I don't know if it's because my expectations were super low, but I found it generally well written, and I liked the characters.

I also quite enjoyed the English slang, and the music choices.
posted by motdiem2 at 9:20 AM on January 23, 2019

los pantalones del muerte - The English closed captioning, at least, had song titles and lyrics.
posted by momus_window at 12:09 PM on January 24, 2019

after arguing about whether or not Jackson could be president
In which Maeve's almost throwaway "We don't have presidents in this country" was another wonderful little nugget of mid-Atlanticism.
posted by progosk at 2:33 PM on January 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

My favorite line was when the blond girl was making a pro/con mind map about Maeve dating Jackson, and after arguing about whether or not Jackson could be president, she wrote, “Basically Obama.” Cross-cultural time-traveling teen TV highlight for sure.

What do you mean by time-traveling ? This is set in the present...
posted by Pendragon at 9:55 AM on January 29, 2019

One of the things that struck me while watching this is that Jean seems so *small*. I've never felt that way about Gillian Anderson's characters before, so it's clearly something about how they're shooting her that draws attention to it.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:22 AM on February 3, 2019

Indeed, I've always found it interesting that she (5'3") spent over a decade performing alongside 6' David Duchovny without feeling particularly small. Although that possibly explains why so many Scully/Mulder scenes took place sitting side-by-side in cars, talking on the phone, or where one of them is sitting behind a desk while the other stands.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:07 AM on February 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Just finished watching this last night, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was worried it'd be male gaze-y, but although there's a bias towards showing lady bits (so many diagrams and photos of vulvas but no peen except for a sculpture in Jean's office) it felt refreshingly natural in the way it was filmed.

I love all the characters, even the scumbags. Most especially Eric, who really is brave in his determination. His father makes me cry with his willingness to let his son find his own path, even when it scares him. Anderson is fantastic in the way she's so over the top and therapised but also loving and trying her best.

What I like the most is how they've kind of routed around the Very Special Episode issues like homophobia or race by doing a sort of "be the change you want to see in the world" thing. The cast is realistically diverse for the UK, but no-one seems to be openly racist out of the characters we've seen. Sexuality in terms of the hetero- to homosexual spectrum also seems mathematically about right, with the kids being uninterested in it as a subject. Although the grownups are more uncomfortable with either subject (excepting Jean), only outsiders to the story are homophobic or racist.

It's probably not the right path for all tv shows. I don't want to pretend that we live in a utopia. But it works here because then they can focus their stories on the awkwardness of figuring out how and why to have sex, instead of on who society thinks you should have sex with. If that was a topic which had been done to death, it wouldn't be fair. But there's so few shows or movies that take a multifaceted and un-moralistic look at teen sexuality without getting all "hurr hurr tits" about it, I think it's good to have a space for it.
posted by harriet vane at 1:57 AM on February 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

I watched this and really enjoyed it; it feels both realistic and optimistic at the same time, describing a world where teens have sex, and are clumsy about it and fuck up things involving sex, feelings, and relationships - but also one where they talk about it, are honest (at least eventually), and accept the normalness of a wide range of sexual behaviors and interests and experiences.

I think it's stumbled on an alchemy of dealing with the real world - throughout that episode where Otis abandons Eric, it doesn't have to work hard to give you this steadily growing fear that something terrible is going to happen to Eric - while also offering a much better model for kids or viewers to accidentally learn from than, say, American Pie.
posted by entropone at 5:52 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was worried it'd be male gaze-y, but although there's a bias towards showing lady bits (so many diagrams and photos of vulvas but no peen except for a sculpture in Jean's office) it felt refreshingly natural in the way it was filmed.

I agree with you and I think statistically that's true, but you've forgotten Adam's dick being shown from behind in the first episode, in the lunchroom. That's actually one thing that got me on board this show, since I'm sick of the male-gazey bias you describe (hard, hard look at you, GoT).

I felt really conflicted about Adam's story! I could feel myself wanting to be more charitable to him but also he never stops being a giant asshole? But then with the way he must have been raised by his dad it's hard to put all the blame on him. The homosexual tension was pretty telegraphed from the beginning, though I found it hard to buy the fling that he and Eric had in detention. Then again his impulsiveness and repression are his defining character traits, so it's still in-character.
posted by coolname at 2:00 PM on February 21, 2019

I think that's the best thing about Adam, actually. It's a sort of a tight-rope act, where the show treats him sympathetically without excusing or glorifying his bad bad behavior as he continually fails to change or redeem himself. It'd be easy to make him a villain, or easy to go the other way and paper over what a jerk he is, but the show has struck a really interesting balance, I think.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:58 PM on February 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Olla, which means to touch things with the head of your penis

People do that enough to need a word for it?

I really liked the show, much more than I thought I would from reading the initial reviews. It was complex and well-intentioned, and most of the acting was very good. I also wish that shows like this were around when I was a teenager.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:14 AM on March 25, 2019

I agree with the positive stuff here, but I also loved all the Ezra Furman music!
posted by wilberforce at 9:10 PM on May 19, 2019

My favorite line, “Jean, you have to stop breaking things when you want to have sex!”
posted by inkytea at 8:54 PM on October 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Season 2 is out!

Rewatching season 1 with a friend: Maeve told Otis to meet at the abortion clinic at 6:30, and he showed up at 4:40!
posted by Pronoiac at 12:01 AM on January 18, 2020

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