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Series / Sex Education

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"Everybody's either thinking about shagging, about to shag, or actually shagging, and you can't even jack your beanstalk."note 

"Yeah, sex therapy. You have a gift. It would be irresponsible to waste it."

Sex Education is a Netflix original series created by Laurie Nunn. The first season premiered on January 11, 2019.

The series follows Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) and his best friend Eric Effoing (Ncuti Gatwa) and Maeve (Emma Mackey), local outcast and Otis's crush. Otis' mother Jean (Gillian Anderson) is a renowned sex therapist, and Otis and Maeve start up a sex clinic at his high school based on the knowledge he absorbed growing up around his oversharing mother.

The series is filmed in Great Britain and takes advantage of their relatively relaxed indecency laws. It is Not Safe for Work, though scarcely intended to titillate, focusing more on the awkward and dysfunctional elements of sex.

Sex Education contains examples of:

  • An Aesop: Good sex is absolutely achievable, but only if you are honest with yourself about what you want and don't want.
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  • Almost Holding Hands: One recurring visual hint that Eric and his bully, Adam, are catching feelings for each other is their hands reaching out and touching, but without holding hands.
  • Almost Kiss: Otis and Maeve come very close to kissing in one episode.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: Despite being set in modern times based on the technology the characters use (they have smartphones, and Otis and Eric at one point use a Nintendo Switchnote ), the cars, fashion, and hairstyles are reminiscent of the 80's.
  • Anorgasmia:
    • Otis suffers this, coupled with a Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality — whenever he tries masturbating, he freaks out before he gets to orgasm. This is later revealed to be due to witnessing a traumatic event when he was young.
    • In the first episode, Aimee complains that her then-boyfriend Adam is unable to come no matter how they have sex. After a spontaneous bout of sex therapy with Otis, it is revealed that he can't get there because of his Parental Issues. He is eventually able to overcome it.
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  • Ashes to Crashes: Adam smashes Aimee's grandmother's urn on her new boyfriend's head.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • After Adam drops his pants in front of the whole school, a direct view of his crotch is conveniently blocked by someones head. The camera then promptly switches to a close up of his ass, with his 'two coke cans' very visibly dangling between his legs.
    • In Episode 5, a guy holding a bottle of alcohol loudly approaches Eric (who is dressed in drag). The audience is led to fear that he may be a violent homophobe, but he sincerely compliments Eric and wishes him a happy birthday. And then this sense of security is all for naught, because Eric is attacked later that day by a different man.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Percocet Sean gives to Liam during the dance. After finding them, Headmaster Groff uses the pills to accuse Maeve and Otis of running a drug ring in the school.
    • The sweater Otis gives to Maeve. In the season one finale, Maeve attempts to return the sweater to make up with Otis, only to witness him kissing Ola.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes:
    • Mr. Groff, the school principal, and his son Adam, a delinquent who struggles in class. Adam himself lampshades this in the first episode.
    • Downplayed with Jean (a sex therapist) and her son Otis, who has a Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality. However, Otis is be a fairly competent sex therapist and psychologist as well.
  • Drag Queen: Eric. Over the course of his arc, he becomes more open with his cross-dressing.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms:
    • Otis can't achieve an orgasm and chooses to abstain completely, pretending to masturbate using tissues, hand cream, and a magazine in an attempt to keep his issues a secret from his mother, who keeps interfering in his personal life. It gets better after he talks it out with his mother and shares a kiss with Ola.
    • Aimee spends an afternoon pleasuring herself at Otis' suggestions, to find out what she truly likes besides pleasuring her partner.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Deconstructed in episode 7. Liam doggedly keeps trying to win Lizzie's affections, but since she's really not interested and he hadn't tried to get to know her, she's just annoyed by him and sees him as a stalker. Otis tells him to just accept that she rejected him and move on.
  • Erotic Eating: Eric, Ruby, and Olivia simulate giving blowjobs on bananas at Aimee's party.
  • Everyone Has Lots of Sex: At their first day back at school, Eric points this out to Otis, kicking off Otis' sex therapy gig.
  • Family Business: Otis' mother is a sex therapist and is extremely open about sexuality towards Otis, who has picked up a lot from her and subsequently freelances sex therapy to his classmates.
  • First Kiss: Otis and Ola at the end of the first season.
  • Girl Posse: The Untouchables are a clique of the most popular students. They're comprised of females Ruby, Olivia, and Aimee, with one gay man (Anwar) thrown in. The drama is pretty played up, as the other members exploit Aimee and there are definite rifts within the group.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture:
    • Discussed and invoked. Maeve says she hates these things in romcoms, and cites the boombox scene from Say Anything... as an example. In a moment of weakness, Otis suggests that Jackson do this for Maeve, and it surprisingly works in getting her to date him.
    • Discussed and deconstructed in episode 7, where Otis's client Liam has tried every romantic gesture in the book. Otis chides him for not accepting his crush's "no."
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Otis and Eric. Eric is gay, but the two of them are as close as brothers.
  • High-School Dance: Moordale Secondary hosts a dance reminiscent of old-school American dances, featuring a live band and cheesy 80s decorations.
  • Hopeless Suitor: A subplot involves Liam, a fellow Moordale classmate, who is obsessed with a girl named Lizzie (to the point of spelling out "I love you" with leaves and baking her cakes) who at first barely notices him and eventually seems to think he is some kind of stalker.
  • I Am Spartacus: In episode 5, a picture of the vagina of one of the students is sent to the whole school, with the anonymous sender threatening to reveal another nude picture (with the students face) the next day, if the victim doesn't make a public apology for her rude behavior. It is resolved via this trope, with several students — including some boys — standing up to claim ownership of the vagina. What's special is that the person who initiates the entire ritual is the one who sent the picture in the first place, having since learned a lesson via intervention from Otis and Maeve. This also allows the actual owner of the vagina to claim it in relative anonymity.
  • Interclass Friendship: Aimee, who's rich, lives in a mansion, and one of the most popular girls at school, and Maeve, who's poor, lives in a caravan, and school outcast, who have been secretly friends. Until Aimee finally dumps her popular friends for Maeve, embracing their friendship.
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold:
    • Maeve comes across as cold and rude on the outside, but is also extremely principled and willing to help even the rudest of her fellow classmates.
    • Zig-Zagged with Adam, who is mostly just a big jerk, but has a few kind moments: he really loves Aimee, his mother and his dog Madam, shares a sweet moment with Eric during class after they made out, is visibly at loss how to live up to his fathers expectations and is genuinely distraught when he forces him to go to military boarding school.
    • Olivia strikes back at Alpha Bitch Ruby by texting a photo of Ruby's vulva to the entire school, promising to text a full photo, including the woman's face, in 24 hours unless an apology is tendered. At the end of the episode, she repents by claiming the photo is of herself, triggering the I Am Spartacus moment listed above.
  • Mushroom Samba: Aimee's boyfriend Kyle at one point gets so high he claims he feels like a carpet.
  • Nerds Are Virgins: Played with; this is definitely the case with Lily, though she almost has sex twice and kind of settles on staying a virgin deliberately for a while. Averted with 'Warhammer Tom' who is, to everyone's surprise, quite sexually active. If Otis counts as a nerd (which he might), then he also qualifies.
  • Parental Fashion Veto: Eric's father quietly disapproves of his flamboyant outfits and crossdressing. This concern is justified as it incites violent homophobic action against him.
  • Reality Ensues: Jackson tries to bargain with Headmaster Groff to keep Maeve in school, with his participation in an important swimming competition as a bargaining chip. The Headmaster is taken aback but doesn't say anything. Things quiet down for a short time and Jackson participates in the race, only to be told afterwards by Headmaster Groff that he doesn't take bribes, leaving Maeve's fate unrevealed by the end of season one.
  • Retro Universe: Played with. The show is ostensibly set in the present day, but with 80s fashions, music and cars coexisting with modern phones and laptops.
  • Running Gag: Jean's lovers (and Ola) bursting in Otis's room thinking it is the bathroom.
  • Scenery Porn: The small, unnamed English countryside town the series takes place in. Resplendent with rolling hills, sweeping views, verdant forests and some stunning homes, the sex sometimes takes a backseat to the overall beauty of the environment.
  • Schizo Tech: Modern day phones and computers coexist alongside 80s televisions and vehicles.
  • The Shrink: Otis, the child of a trained psychologist, has picked up the trade on his own. Notably, both characters are portrayed primarily as Type III Awesome shrinks.
  • Their First Time: A non-romantic version. Lily and Otis platonically attempt to lose both their virginities to each other, but it doesn't work.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Otis realizes his feelings for Maeve just before the latter enters a relationship. After this relationship ends, it is implied that Maeve realizes her feelings for Otis, but sees him kissing Ola.
  • Very Special Episode: Subverted. The large majority of episodes actually tackle something significant (abortion in 1x03, Your Cheating Heart in 1x04 and 1x06, cyberbullying in 1x05, homophobia in 1x05, the importance of knowing yourself in 1x06, the ethics of psychological practice in 1x04 and 1x08, the Primal Scene in 1x06), and as such the show doesn't bother hyping them up.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Sort of. Despite being set in England (and shot in Wales), Moordale Secondary feels more like a classical American high school.
  • Wild Teen Party: Many things go down at Aimee's party in the second episode. Otis stumbles onto a relationship dispute and manages to fix it, Adam gets into a brawl with Aimee's new boyfriend, and Eric and the Untouchables give blowjobs to bananas, among the standard party staples.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Otis and Maeve.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Otis' father had sex with one of his patients, which Otis inadvertently witnessed. This led to his parents divorce and caused so much trauma for Otis that he wasn't able to achieve an orgasm until late puberty.

Example of: