Sex Education is not a show to watch with your parents. In fact, it’s not a show to watch with anyone by your side.
Watch it on your own. Binge it. Fall in love with it. And then go tell all your friends about it and laugh about the naughtiest, rudest and most outrageous new show of 2019.
An unabashed and jaw-dropping take on teenage sexual politics, Sex Education - now available on Netflix - lets it all hang out and delivers a series that is simultaneously incredibly funny and moving.
If Skins was the teen drama for the MySpace generation, Sex Education is the voice of generation who have grown up on Instagram and Snapchat and all the pressures and awkwardness they entail.
The drama loosely centres on Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), a socially awkward teen with the ultimate embarrassing mother – a sex therapist played by a gloriously game Gillian Anderson.
After growing up surrounded by his mother’s clientele, Otis has inadvertently become a sex and relationship guru, with an uncanny ability to diagnose the weird and wonderful problems of his high school pals.
What follows is a classic teen comedy, which holds nothing back as it dives into the messy world of teenage bedrooms (as well as bathrooms, cafeterias and school grounds).
Here are three reasons Sex Education is the first great TV show of 2019
1. It nails teenage life perfectly
Sex Education isn’t gritty or aiming for realism. The show blends British references (Curly Wurlys, Nesquik) with a very American-looking high school (all bleachers and sports blazers) but the characters and script hit the spot every time in capturing the fumbling and clumsiness of school life.
Navigating through the anxieties and strains of growing up in the social media age, Sex Education deals sensitively with masculinity, LGBT issues and all the insecurities of teenage life that everyone from 16 to 60 will recognise.
Otis’ relationship with his mum is a microcosm of the wider themes of the show. Despite growing up in the most openly sexual environment imaginable – it is literally plastered on the walls of his house – he still can’t find it within himself to deal with his own sexual problems.
Jean’s brazen and clinical approach to sexuality isn’t far removed from the classic school sex education classes that teaches students the biological names of anatomy, but leaves them floundering when it comes down to the nitty gritty.
2. The cast go all in
Gillian Anderson we know. Asa Butterfield you will probably recognise from The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas or Nanny McPhee. However, it is the strength of the supporting cast, an incredible gaggle of instantly loveable British talent, which makes this ensemble sizzle.
Ncuti Gatwa gets all the best lines as Otis’s eternally optimistic, motormouth gay best friend Eric. Emma Mackey oozes cool as the school bad girl Maeve Wiley, while Aimee Lou Wood is a classic scene stealer as the people-pleasing Aimee Gibbs, who is willing to do just about anything to fit in with the cool kids.
Connor Swindells, who plays school bad-boy and headmaster's son Adam Groff, is another stand-out, managing to instil the gruff, lairy lad with a plenty of heart, as we learn about the pressures he suffers from his parents.
3. It turns the coming-of-age teen drama clichés upside down
When every character is first introduced in Sex Education, it initially looks like the show has plucked them out of a teen drama book of clichés. But the show soon turns expectations on its head.
Maeve Wiley is seen by everyone as the school cool chick, who couldn’t care less about what anyone thinks of her. In reality, she’s an incredible and unappreciated English student who suffers from serious financial difficulties that absolutely nobody is aware of.
Adam, meanwhile, comes across as a classic American Pie jock in his opening scenes, but his macho posturing is masking his own personal demons.
The series plays on the classic tropes of every high school drama – the cool kid, the funny kid, the nerd, the jock – but pulls the rug from under you every time.
Watch this if you liked...
Skins, My Mad Fat Diary, Everything Sucks, The Inbetweeners, Big Mouth.
Watch Sex Education now on Netflix.