The following article contains spoilers from the TV series Sex Education on Netflix. More so, it discusses topics of a sensitive nature which may be disturbing and/or controversial to some readers. Hence, reader discretion is advised. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the authors and do not reflect Sunway University and Sunway College’s values.

Content warning: Mentions of sex and sexual assault.

So, this is my last article for Sunway Echo Media. I’ve written quite a few things, ranging from my first article, Revolution, Rebellion and Relief: A Take On The Hunger Games Series, which was a collab with the all-time great Head of Creative Writing, Merissa. Then, Freedom and American Exceptionalism In Hamilton, which was quite scary to post because Hamilton fans scare me, even though I am one. And, the extremely political, “You Suffer From the Misplaced Optimism of the Doomed” Snowpiercer: The Nature of Social Order, which I was pleasantly surprised people took well. Then just recently, the Yay or Nay: Barbie vs Oppenheimer, which was a collab between two Echo Media departments. I do love writing for Echo Media and it’s quite sad that I’m already leaving. So for my final article, I decided to write about one of my favourite TV shows of all time, Sex Education. I know, I know, this show has been talked about to death but I have a lot of opinions on it and I need to talk about it. 

If you don’t know, Sex Education is probably the best high school TV show out there. It’s a brilliantly written show, and I believe it captures all the facets of being a teenager that many other series simply don’t understand. The show follows Otis, a socially awkward and sexually repressed teenager who is surrounded by classmates who are doing it, constantly. There’s a slight twist though, Otis’s mother is like… cool. She’s a sex (and relationship) therapist. Because of his mother’s constant barrage of sexual information, Otis has developed a sort of impotence. But, when comforting one of his classmates, Otis realises that he can use his mother’s knowledge to help the confused teenagers around him and improve his status at school. He teams up with school outcast and feminist literature lover, Maeve Wiley (who is me), to set up an underground sex therapy clinic to deal with his classmates’ sexual problems. 

The show is a wonderful mix of comedy, a few out-there sex scenes, and drama. I’ve never seen a TV show understand modern teenagers and their problems without coming off as ‘How do you do, fellow kids?’. Sex Ed is also extremely diverse, showing off an array of interesting characters that seem like they’re stereotypes but are deep and well-written. Take Eric Effiong, Otis’s best friend and the gay son of a Ghanaian-Nigerian immigrant family. He seems like he plays into the stereotype of the typical gay best friend, but the show takes an interesting approach by making Eric deeply religious. There’s also Jackson Marchetti, who is Moordale’s head boy. Jackson’s cool, he’s the best swimmer at Moordale, good-looking as hell, and he’s hooking up with the infamous Maeve Wiley. But what makes his character interesting is the fact that he suffers from extreme anxiety due to all the pressure and expectations of being the head boy and the best swimmer at Moordale. Jackson also comes from a same-sex family, his parents are Lesbians and he was born out of surrogacy (which is later changed in season four, and you’ll see me rant about how terrible that change is later).

Eric and Jackson are only two examples taken from a large and diverse cast. Unlike many other Netflix projects, Sex Education feels genuine. 

The first season follows Otis setting up the sex therapy clinic with Maeve, and the problems that arise once he realises he has developed feelings for Maeve. Jackson’s hookups with Maeve turns serious and he develops feelings for her. This starts a strange tension between Jackson, who is quite literally the coolest guy in school, and Otis, who is a loser. Jackson eventually comes to Otis for advice (he gives Otis money for the advice) and he thinks of sabotaging Jackson’s advances on Maeve. But strangely enough, Otis’s bad advice works out, and Jackson and Maeve start to date. So there is this secret pact between Otis and Jackson, where Jackson pays Otis for advice on how to ‘get’ Maeve. The two boys know that it would break her if she found out. Maeve eventually finds out after Jackson drunkenly confesses his and Otis’s crimes. And in that scene, there’s a heartbreaking line– “Hey, Otis If I give you another 50, will you tell me how to get Maeve to like me again?” 

Season one ends with Jackson and Maeve breaking up. Maeve eventually realises her feelings for Otis and rushes over to his house, adamant about making a relationship between the two work. But, she catches Otis making out with another girl. The season ends with Otis finally being able to jerk off after being impotent the entire season. 

Season two starts with a chlamydia outbreak at Moordale Secondary. Everyone is freaking out, and I mean everyone, including the teachers. Jean, Otis’s mother, is brought on by the school board to become Moordale’s resident sex therapist. Otis is terrified that his mother will find out about the underground sex therapy clinic. Moreover, his mother is stealing away all of his and Maeve’s clients. Not only that, but Eric is helping his former bully, Adam, come to terms with his bisexuality. I despise the bully-turned-lover trope, but I believe that Sex Education does a great job of twisting this trope into something that can turn abusive into something beautiful. 

Also, the best storyline of the entire show is in this season. Aimee, Maeve’s best friend is sexually assaulted on a bus. Aimee struggles with it the entire season and it’s quite a painful story. In episode seven, all the girls of Sex Education band together and join Aimee on the bus as she faces her fears. 

Maeve and Otis are also going through quite a rough spot as they both like each other, but don’t know if it’s reciprocated. Otis and Maeve also have new partners, even though they are pining after one another. This ends in a drunken altercation where Otis insults both Maeve and his new girlfriend at a party he holds. The night ends with Otis partying and, finally, losing his virginity to one of Moordale’s Untouchables (the popular group), Ruby Matthews. 

At the end of the season, one of the students holds a science-fiction-space-octopus-sexual rendition of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and personally, it’s the best thing I’ve seen, like ever. The main lead of this rendition is none other than famed head-boy Jackson Marchetti. Jackson realises earlier in the season that he needs to find something he loves that isn’t swimming, so he turns to acting. 

I genuinely believe that season two is the best. All the storylines converge and the characters are broken down to their essential themes before being built back up again. It’s such a good season that introduces new characters and revamps old, background characters. 

Season three is where the cracks start to form. Eric starts to date his former bully, Adam, and he turns into a bit of a… terrible person. It sucks because Eric used to be my favourite character, alongside Jackson and Maeve. Eric tries to force Adam into coming out to his family, and when Adam says that he’s not comfortable with it, Eric cheats on him. Not only that, Otis starts a new relationship with popular girl Ruby Matthews, even though he has clear feelings for Maeve. Ruby starts to develop feelings for Otis and says that she loves him but Otis responds with ‘that’s nice’. Otis… what the hell? 

I think that Otis has become a more… irritating character this season. He’s always had a bit of a mean streak in him, but it’s become more prevalent within this season. This will become a little bit more obvious in season four. 

There’s also a new antagonist. After Moordale Secondary came under fire after hosting the Romeo and Juliet sex play, the school board decided to kick out the old principal and install a new one, Hope Haddon. She’s an authoritarian principal who transforms Moordales rich, and diverse culture into a black, white and grey regime of boring-ness. The students eventually push back against her regime by holding a presentation about why Moordale is a proud sex school. The thing is, their actions cause Moordale to shut down, and the season ends with everyone needing to go to new schools to finish their A-Levels. 

I feel like the worst offence of this season is the murder of Otis and Maeve’s characters. They both become so irritating this season. Their slow burn is too slow, and you get sick of the back and forth. When Otis and Ruby start to hook up, you get attached to them and it’s much more interesting than the will-they-wont-they of Otis and Maeve. I feel that Ruby opened up this season about her trauma, her household, her difficulties with her father and her vulnerabilities, only for the writers to destroy it. 

The development of minor characters such as Otis’s mother, Jean, Ruby, Adam, and Adam’s father, Mr. Groff, were some of the best parts of this season. I love the fact that they focus on these characters more this season. I feel as if the show truly comes alive again when we switch back to the fun of seasons one and two. 

Season four is terrible. The show goes downhill from here and it is quite possibly the most depressing thing ever. My mother loves season four, for some strange reason, but I despise it. I think season four is an atrocity and a stain on the once brilliant show, I may be exaggerating a bit here, but I believe I hold some truth. 

Maeve and Otis have both acknowledged that they like each other, but Maeve moves to the U.S. as she was accepted into a Gifted and Talented exchange program. Because of the events last season, Otis, Eric, Jackson and Ruby all moved to a new school, Cavendish College. 

My friends and I had a bit of a debate about this new setting. Earlier in the season, I thought that Cavendish and the new characters that came along with it were meant to be a satire of Liberal (liberal, not left) spaces. The characters felt so one-dimensional and fake. I thought, there was no way that this show which started as a series that was meant to highlight LGBTQ+ and POC characters and their false stereotypes turned into what they were fighting against. This season feels like it plays into every single stereotype in the book. 

Another storyline I hated this season was the way they tried changing Jackson and his family dynamic. This season, Jackson goes on a hunt to find out who his father is; as I mentioned above Jackson is from a same-sex lesbian family. What I loved about Jackson’s parentage is the fact that he was born out of a sperm donation. The reason is that I feel like it showed that you can have a family without there being a man involved in raising the child. There was also a great storyline in season two where one of Jackson’s mother, Sofia, struggled with the fact that she wasn’t his biological mother. The relationship between Jackson’s mother showed that two women can love each other, have a child, and raise that child. But this season, they have Jackson find out who his father is and that he was born out of an affair. I feel like this changes his character entirety and the perfect storyline that the writers went through in seasons one to three. In all honesty, it feels like they just wanted to chuck Jackson a bone and give him a story this season. 

Another problem with this season is Maeve and Otis’s love story. I think the writers took too long to make it official so it eventually died off. Not only that, Otis becomes a terrible person this season. In earlier seasons, Otis was emotionally intelligent. He wasn’t a flawless person, but he was bearable. Otis yells at his mother for not getting enough attention, gets angry at Eric because Eric is rightfully angry at him for dropping the former whenever Maeve needs attention, and is so wrapped up in his need to be the best therapist at Cavendish, that he ignores everyone. 

There’s also a new character that’s introduced in this season, O, who is the resident sex therapist at Cavendish. Almost instantly, Otis and O form a rivalry since there can only be one sex therapist. O is the antagonist of season four, she’s not a villain like Hope in season three, but she is a direct antagonist of Otis. I found out later on that O wasn’t written to be an antagonist. Yasmin Benoit, one of the writers of Sex Education season four, intended O to be a slice of representation for asexual women of colour. After the reception O received with the release of season four, Benoit went on a big rant on Twitter and explained that alot of the important scenes that were meant to flesh out O’s character were completely cut out. 

Overall, I’m disappointed with how this season has been handled, especially since seasons one, two, and maybe three, have been excellent. 

The only character that I believe has a real storyline this season is Adam. He started as a mean-spirited bully, knocking people over, bullying Eric, and generally being a horrible person. He then has his fling with Eric and they start to date before Eric cheats on him. In this season, Adam drops out of school and tells his mother that he’s bisexual before starting to work on a farm. This season, Adam rebuilds his broken relationship with his father. It’s a really sweet storyline and in full honesty, I think it’s one of the only things that is saving this season from ruin. 

As you can see, I have a lot of opinions on this TV show. Even though season four is a letdown, I still feel that Sex Education is one of– if not the best– high school TV shows there is. Seasons one and two are brilliantly written television and I don’t think any other show can match it. The characters are perfect, the tension, the costuming, practically everything in those first two seasons is perfect. Seasons three is where the show dips a little and four is where it takes a complete nosedive. I will still love the show no matter what. But, when I do rewatch, trust I’ll be skipping season four. 

Written By: Mei
Edited By: Merissa

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