Are We Ready for Sex Education?
by Erika Lagunzad, February 06, 2019 10:12pm
Art by Jessa Malapit
You’d feel nervous and unsure at first few (if not most) scenes of Sex Education—heads up, it has a lot of NSFW scenes—and that’s the magic of the series. Sex Education gives you those same feelings every teenager feels on an almost daily basis. Much more a teenager who is in the process of orienting themselves, or is discovering the ins and outs of sex; sex education (as an initiative) will never be a comfortable experience. But it can be light, funny, and sincere. And Sex Education has pulled it off.
This Netflix Original series follows the lives of Jean Milburn, a sex and relationship therapist, played by Gillian Anderson and her equally gifted 16-year-old son Otis played by Asa Butterfield. Blessed with intuitive sexual understanding, Otis conducts sex and relationship counsellings—despite his lack of personal sexual experience—because most of the population of his high school are hopelessly confused, horny teenagers in need of, well, sex education.
We’ve all had our fair share of teen comedies set in high schools, but this eight-part series uncovers coming-of-age stories in such a realistically relatable way. Cue in all the quirky student group stereotypes, the awkwardness of being a teen with raging hormones, and no rule book but all portrayed without exaggeration. Nothing is densely written, everything is effortless and heartfelt.
Every character represents viewers of all ages and orientations, each character’s storyline comes into play as they become part of Otis’ narrative. What is a teenage comedy without its highschool tropes—the gay best friend, the school bully, the elites, the jocks, the band geek who’s into elaborate roleplaying, the rebel chick who’s secretly smart, and the ones content on the side—colorful personalities (of different races, sexual orientations, and age) allow the audiences to see themselves in the many "patients" of Otis's underground sex therapy clinic.
Owning The Narrative
And while the series has so much heart to it, it’s still not one to watch with your parents (or during commute!) with a lot of full-on nudity and uncensored sex scenes. Sex Education offers a kind of nudity we're not used to seeing. It emphasizes more on undressing humanities more than clothes. It portrays the realities of sex, the messiness of it (physically and emotionally)—it’s hardly ever sexy at all.
Sex Education is a rare gem. For a series that forefronts sex, it hardly fetishizes relationships and the act of sex itself.
In the eyes of Otis, he is trying to help his clientele. The show highlights one thing: the necessity and impact of communication. And that's what sex education is and should be about. And the series, with all its rawness and honesty, is trying to normalize the conversation on the topic of sex because sex education happens only (and effectively) when it is put into the conversation.
But beyond the talk of sex, It’s refreshing to see inclusive plotlines presented in a big platform like that of Netflix. Sex Education’s diversity includes race, sexual orientation, social status, and parenting styles. It even touches on the mental and emotional health spectrum—even religion.
Turning education to a conversation
Sex Education isn't just about sex, it's about learning self-appreciation, living life as best as possible, and being comfortable with ourselves.
It doesn’t matter if Season 1 ended with or without icing on top, or with Season 2 nowhere near finished (can’t wait!). It feels ever more like a "refresher" that this show exists and that it refuses to filter the conversation about sex. There is no show as effective at bringing into discussion the education we need.
“with all its rawness and honesty, Sex Education is trying to normalize the conversation on this topic because sex education happens only (and effectively) when it is talked about.”
With the Philippines being a country that’s clinging to its traditions and religion like it’s the only thing left of our identity, it's no surprise that many people still think sex is a taboo. It seems like the approach to this “taboo” is how knowing nothing is better than having to know all about it.
There have been efforts to strongly implement sex education in our country, especially in school curriculums, but advancements are met with strong if not harsh criticisms from the conservatives of society. The least most schools do is giving out pamphlets to the list of STDs, responsible parenthood, the Do’s and Dont’s, and the forms of protection (abstinence and prayers included).
So it’s safe to say pornography has been our “source” of sex education material—the Philippines has ranked first in terms of time on Pornhub for five straight years since 2013, fyi, though it only portrays sex as an unrealistic performance. But will our society ever come to know how the lack of education about sex will not stop teenagers (or anyone) from having sex, it'll only stop them from staying safe from unwanted pregnancies or STDs. It’s about time we take sex education seriously to the point of normalcy.
Sex Education presents our need of sex education. It’s sad and alarming that most of our knowledge about sex ed are found in media platforms such as Netflix.
Butatleast it’s a good start to a sex-positive, inclusive entertainment landscape; and with more stories like these, we may be ready for conversations to start—without having to be nervous, uncomfortable or anxious while at it.
The show, ultimately, is about young people trying to figure out how to be content, happy and have a healthy, fulfilling relationships—with or without sex involved.
Sex Education Season 1 is available on Netflix. And in case we forgot to mention, Sex Education contains explicit scenes, abortion clinics, weird parents and a whole lot of heartwarming scenes in between.