Netflix’s widely acclaimed teen drama has definitely attracted the attention of people from various age groups. This British teen drama openly addresses several delicate issues, ranging from gender identity, teen pregnancy, and sexual assault, that will make you stop and think.
The story revolves around the lives of adolescent students of Moordale High as they try to figure out their lives and sexuality amidst dealing with family problems and crazy high school drama. Here are some of the main issues that have been marvellously addressed in this show.
1. Acceptance of One’s Sexuality
Throughout the 3 seasons of Sex Education, the show never misses a single chance to present LGBTQ characters and their journey towards self discovery. One of the prominent examplese of which is Eric (played by Ncuti Gatwa), a black gay immigrant, who doesn’t fear to be himself. However, Laurie Nunn, the creator of this show didn’t portray the character as an archetype of a gay best friend, rather he goes through his own struggles and bravely overcomes the barriers of the society. When his Father was afraid that he might get in trouble for literally being his own self, he shrugged off the question “what will people say?” and went to the school ball wearing bold makeup and high heels.
Apart from Eric, there are other examples of LGBTQ characters, for instance; Ola, who discovers herself to be pansexual, Cal, the transgender teen who isn’t afraid to raise their voice if they encounter discrimination, and Adam, the Head teacher’s son who finally came out of closet to his mother. In each of these situations, it is shown that regardless of someone’s sexuality, they’re human like all of us, and they have all the rights to live a normal life without being judged or criticised.
2. Sexual Assault
Among other controversial topics, Sex Education doesn’t shy away from portraying how sexual harassment can change someone as a person. In season 2, Aimee Gibbs (played by Aimee Lou Wood), a student of Moordale, falls victim to sexual assault on her way to school. She simply can’t process what just happened to her and tries not to make a huge deal out of the whole incident. However, no matter how hard she tries, the trauma doesn’t disappear; it lingers with her. Ultimately, Aimee required professional help to get her through the terror. In reality too, sexual assaults result in drastic change in a person as they try to come to terms with what has happened.
Cyberbullying has become more prevalent than ever. Every 7 in 10 people have faced cyberbullying before they turn 18. The same thing happened to Ruby who represents the über-famous girl of the school, who likes to judge everyone around her including her best friends. As a result, one of her best friends reveals her intimate photos and threatens to expose her in front of the entire school. This is an act of sheer jealousy where your close ones become your enemies. Thus, Laurie Nunn has tremendously presented this issue of cyberbullying faced by hundreds of people every day.
4. Body Image Issues
Nunn shows her mastery in mirroring our society in the third season of Sex Education. Body image issues are something that we all have dealt with in the past or are dealing with in the present. Especially for teenagers, accepting their body as it is, sometimes gets more difficult than we can imagine. In one of the episodes, Dr. Jean Milburn, a sex therapist by profession, advised Aimee that there’s nothing wrong with her body as each body is unique in its own way. Thus, normalising discussions about body image mark the beginning of a candid conversation to help people open up about their struggles without feeling embarrassed.
5. Lack of Gay Sex Education
In developing countries like India, it is forbidden to include sex education in the school curriculum, let alone gay sex education! However, in countries like the UK where it is mandatory to study sex education in school, there’s still lack of information provided to the students regarding gay sex education. In this show, this issue has been successfully addressed by Rahim, a newly admitted student whose straightforward approach to relevant issues shakes things at Moordale. During Mr. Hendricks’ awkward sex ed lesson, Rahim challenges him to discuss about gay sex and safe sexual practices, as topics like these are hardly ever discussed. And as a result, it perpetuates endless confusion among teenagers and young adults.
After all, Sex Education is not just another teen drama which only focuses on high-school drama and relationships. This show is beyond Otis and Maeve’s love story as it portrays a representation of our society, where people struggle with issues which take years for them to speak up. Furthermore, by seeing the normalisation of body images and sex-positivity, the audience begins to relate to the struggles of the characters. Thus, it leads towards the acceptance of one’s own body and sexuality, as well as making people unapologetically proud of who they are.