SEX EDUCATION: Not another teen series

Reno Tallada / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Sex, peer pressure, school, relationships – adolescence is definitely one of life’s most complicated stages. Netflix

Every episode opens with at least 30-seconder straight or gay sex scenes, teenagers swearing like forever, condom, penis, vagina, masturbation, sex – all uttered and shown countless times – so, it’s normally safe to warn that this series is not suitable for all (young) viewers.

Apparently, Netflix’s new comedy-drama web television series “Sex Education” is without doubt a sexually explicit, graphic and garbage at first look; but in retrospect, it is forthright, relatable and earnestly relevant.

“Sex Education” recounts the story of awkward and insecure teenager Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), who grew up in an unconventional household and upbringing. Otis’ mother, Jean (Gillian Anderson), is a sex therapis; thus, sex is nothing but an ordinary, run-of-the-mill discussion and decoration (phallic statues and paintings of Kama Sutra are visible in all corners) in their home. But despite the openness in sex talks at home, Otis has become outwardly inexperienced in the sexual department – he has problem ejaculating.

Nevertheless, Otis is a ‘talker’ and not a ‘doer’ (though he badly wants to experience it) when it comes to sex, because he may be an outright virgin, but he is equipped with ‘pragmatic knowledge’ about sexual emotions and relationships. And his forte got him hooked up – in a decent way – with his crush, the school’s pariah, Maeve (Emma Mackey), who is impressed with Otis’ unprecedented stock knowledge about sexual intimacy. They initiated that they will launch their secret “sex therapy business” in school. To earn them both a bit of cash, Maeve will be the broker and Otis will be the sex therapist.

Otis and Maeve’s sex therapy business was a train wreck at first; which is practically expected given Maeve’s and Otis’ ‘rebel girl’ and ‘loser’ reputation at school. But when Otis incidentally solved an intimacy issue between two of his schoolmates – the word of mouth spread all over the campus and therapy bookings from various horny teenagers spiked in just a snap. Little did Otis realise that running this sex therapy clinic is a metaphor of his own sexual awakening as he juggles up school pressure, his flourishing feelings for Maeve, his own ejaculation problem, plus the annoying intrusion of his mom into his sex life.

What adults must learn

This coming-of-age series takes on a modern storytelling of typical teenage issues that most parents would normally sweep under the rug: sex. Because admittedly, sex is a given conversation taboo in several conservative homes.

Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson. Photo: Netflix

With its thought-provoking script and strikingly exceptional cast, “Sex Education” would take us back to our teenage years when sex hormones were surging radically high amid the fact that we also do not completely understand how and why we were feeling that way. It successfully dissects the anatomy of teenagers’ sexually exciting years and how they attempt to positively navigate in finding the apt resolution to any given situation, while simultaneously handling their personal imperfections and that of their partners.

“Sex Education” bravely slaps the unconventional truth to parents that keeping mum with your children about sex and intimacy is not protecting them, but rather indirectly pushing them to peep at the door of curiosity. Because parents should not be naïve of the fact that curiosity about sex is at its peak during teenage years.

Needless to say, sexual matters amongst teens are a delicate dialogue that should be met and not repulsed. But just because adults are adults doesn’t make them well-versed about the issues of sex, and “Sex Education” haphazardly crosses this unspoken truth. The series reinforces the reality that sex could always get complicated no matter who engages in it. Even Otis’ mother, the apparently learned sex guru, can’t seem to have it all figured out between her hurting past and her present feelings for her new sex mate.

What seems to be another flimsy, raunchy teen series has turned to become deftly educational not just for teens but for adults alike. “Sex Education” centers on sex, but more to that is the strong emphasis on how education or at least an adequate rational understanding about this subject is relatively significant not just for teenagers but for adults as well.

Own your ‘own narrative’

In a world where superficiality is frequently misconstrued as a facet of reality, one must face life with much clearer vision. Many times, teens, due to peer pressure and absurd social standards, are steered towards embracing particular idealisms that would, more often than not, permit them to lose or fake their individuality.

“Sex Education“ does not only tackle the complexities of sex and relationships among teenagers; it also highlights friendship.
Photo: Netflix

As “Sex Education” tackles the fundamentals of emotional relationships and sex, it also traverses into a much considerable issue that teenagers are getting troubles on these days: self-acceptance.

The top part of the series’ storyline is the relationship of heterosexual Otis and his openly gay best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa). Tapping into this one perceptive issue with teenagers just definitely makes “Sex Education” remarkably relatable.

The series has effectively downplayed the ludicrous social stigma experienced by straight boys having gay friends or even best friends. Instead, it beautifully celebrates friendship in all forms, regardless of color, ethnicity or gender preference.

With today’s LGBTQ community gradually pacing forward into a future world with less judgment and social inclusion, it is important to see a series that depicts the vulnerability and humanity of these people struggling to be wholeheartedly accepted in the community.

“Sex Education” unexpectedly has more wisdom than what we may have initially thought. It leads you to the ideal while at the same time makes you understand its bittersweet upshots. As each character manages to embrace their own identity amid adversity, it would also make you realise that self-acceptance doesn’t necessarily translate to automatic acceptance by those around you. Because no matter what you do, there will always be that unfillable gap between your own self-perception and that with others. Yet, owning your own narrative and being unapologetic about it is the cardinal achievement one can ever get.

“Sex Education” is not your typical teen series. In actual fact, the title “Sex Education” is just an allegory to the series’ core message. Beyond its vulgar depiction is the painful truth that regardless of age and maturity, somehow, we all still need to be educated on how to value, respect and acknowledge without prejudice sex, or as what we commonly call…‘humans’.

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