Netflix’s Sex Education: A Class We Wish We had in School
Netflix’s new series ‘Sex Education’ is what you need in a world where conversations around sex, boundaries and consent are being defined and talked about.
Who knew the day would come when a TV series could actually talk about sex and navigate through its nuances without escaping the realities of dealing with it? ‘Sex Education’ on Netflix doesn’t check all the boxes for a typical teenage romantic-comedy-drama series. While scaling the uneven slopes of sex and sexuality, it starts with a bit of awkwardness and over-enthusiasm but then gets a lot more fun when it calms down a bit. It’s a show that can frankly discuss sex but also make jokes about it, like normal people do.
The series revolves around a socially awkward high school student Otis who lives with his mom Jean, a sex therapist. Being surrounded by manuals, videos and tediously open conversations about sex, Otis has become a reluctant expert on the subject. Maeve, the smart and intelligent classmate of Otis notices the ease with which he can help people with their tricky sexual problems and so, together they start an underground sex therapy business for their schoolmates.
The show has a diverse cast who plays it’s part up to perfection. It’s liberating to see a brown Muslim gay boy who confidently bosses around the school on his stylish outfits and sarcastic attitude, to see girls discovering masturbation, and at the same time the lead character being uncomfortable with his genitals.
It accurately conveys that having or not having sex is hardly ever the only problem for kids who’re trying to figure out what they want and like. Outside that, there’s sexuality and compatibility. It involves figuring out what you need and learning how to speak up for it. There’s so much more than the vast majority of those teen comedies ever truly touch, and so it’s wonderfully refreshing to watch ‘Sex Education’. Yes, sex can be thrilling, horrifying, terribly awkward and wonderfully adventurous and yes, it’s completely okay to not know everything about it.
How Sex Education got it wrong is in two occasions. In episode five, Ruby, a mean girl who routinely harasses and chides her friends and those around her, finds herself in a spot when a picture her vagina is leaked, but no one knows that it’s her picture. The culprit who leaks the picture announces that he will disclose the name of the person if the she doesn’t apologies for her behaviour. In an overtly defensive demeanour, Ruby spreads the rumour that the picture is of Maeve, who already has a reputation as a slut.
Despite this nefarious behaviour, Ruby seeks Maeve’s help to find the culprit. Maeve, in a gesture of unrealistic sainthood, agrees to help her because she is knows how difficult it is to live with a social redicule. If this wasn’t enough, Maeve, who has cash shortage, refuses to accept any money when Ruby offers to pay for her services.
In the course of the investigation it is found out that Olivia, Ruby’s friend is the blackmailer who, tired of being disrespected wanted to teach Ruby a lesson. Maeve, who is a badge wearing feminist comes to a conclusion that since the blackmailer is seeking an apology then it must be a girl because “Emotional blackmail, demanding an apology This is some girl shit.” This statement panders to the stereotype that a girl is a girl’s worse enemy and is only capable of inflicting sneaky drama like typical spiteful bitches. This supposedly brilliant statement totally negates how men overwhelmingly engage in revenge porn and blackmails revolving nudes which has caused its victims to commit suicide. Just as you think you have a good complex female character, thw writers put something like this in the script. Anyway, Olivia confesses to the crime and apologises to Ruby, while Ruby in her haughty fashion rebuffs her with “I hate you.”
Next day in the assembly it’s eventually revealed that the picture is of Ruby but Olivia announces that it’s her and then suddenly everyone starts saying that it’s their picture, in a spontaneous show of solidarity against slut shaming.
While, we would agree that no one deserves to be blackmailed, but at the same time a rumour mongering bully gets to have support from all quarters but isn’t held accountable for her own behaviour is problematic. The fact that Olivia is first one to take the bullet for Ruby also shows that she is in a toxic friendship. Ruby gets to benefit from the progressive practices of those around her, but yet continues to belittle those who hold less social capital than her.
In the same episode, Otis bails on Eric on his birthday due to the ongoing investigation. It’s not shown clearly but it’s assumed that Eric is sexually assaulted by a group of homophobic/transphobic guys. Instead of comforting his friend after ruining his elaborate birthday tradition and hearing about how Eric was robbed of his phone, Otis jumps to regale the time he spent with Maeve. This enrages Eric who calls out Otis for being self centered, Otis in return calls accuses Eric of being jealous. When Eric barges out, Otis make no attempt to reunite further into the show. What appeared to be a mature, understanding, and equal friendship between a straight and a gay guy is diluted into a cheap plot line where Eric is reduced to a sidekick. No explanation is offered for Eric’s assault and Otis continues to have his adventures.
Featured Image Credits- Netflix