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Sex Education Season 2 is masterclass of writing and performance

  • "Sex Education doesn’t just make its adult characters as horny as its teen characters; it rather boldly asserts that there are no real differences between teen and adult sexuality," says Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya. "It’s all the same sticky mess of feelings, fantasies, desires, self-loathing, passion, and hormones. Jean (Gillian Anderson) has been obsessing over her son Otis’ pubescence—and lacking boundaries along the way—but she too begins a major hormonal change in season two: perimenopause." Upadhyaya adds: "The wealth of stories season two tells in its eight hourlong episodes is overwhelmingly impressive. In most ensemble shows, there are a handful of characters whose arcs feel undercooked or who function more like plot devices in the stories of others instead of standing on their own. Sex Education doesn’t let that happen in its second season, even as it threads in new characters and goes deeper on some of the other characters who exist in season one but who we don’t really know until now...So many teen dramas challenge tropes like the Bad Girl, the Idiot Jock, the Bookish Nerd, the Bully, but none do so quite as incisively as Sex Education. The writing, brought to life with effusive and grounded performances, is impeccable on a character level but also in the way it weaves those characters’ stories together."


    • Sex Education keeps setting aside teen and sex tropes: "Every performer is wonderful, not least because the script is wonderful, playing the sex for laughs and the search for intimacy as something serious, good and noble," says Lucy Mangan. "Not a single character is a cipher – even the smallest parts have a sketched backstory and some good gags. It’s all of a piece with the charm and generosity of spirit that suffuses the whole thing. Sex Education sets so many conventions cheerily but firmly aside that you feel like an entire forest of received wisdom is being clear-cut. Light floods in, new growth springs up. Such a sense of revelry and optimism abounds that you can feel it doing your heart and soul good as you watch. And all without missing a comic or emotional beat or deviating from its moral core, which urges us all to connect."
    • Season 2 is a clarion call for female rage: "All of its comedic escapades aside, this season’s most dramatic subplot slowly burns through the doe-eyed, easygoing Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood)," says Brooke Marine. "In the beginning of this season’s third episode, Aimee stands on the side of the town’s lush forest-green road, holding on to a birthday cake for Maeve. When the bus arrives and she boards, she is assaulted by a man who masturbates on her leg. By the time she delivers the cake to her best friend, Maeve tells the happy-go-lucky Aimee that she has to go to the police, which she brushes off in an attempt to forget it ever happened at all. As much as grown adults can enjoy Sex Education, it is in moments like these that one remembers who this show is really for—teens and young adults who, while mature in many ways, are still young and impressionable. Often praised for its stealth pedagogy, Sex Education pivots to teaching a more overt lesson about assault via Aimee’s season two storyline."
    • It feels like Season 2 is treading water to get to important revelations that won't resolve until Season 3
    • Asa Butterfield has done so many "wanking" scenes that it's become very normal


    TOPICS: Sex Education, Netflix, Asa Butterfield