Sex Education: Season 2
The sex-positive teen comedy starring Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson returns with more characters, more embarrassing sexual encounters and more handy tips on everything from asexuality to anal sex hygiene
Netflix’s raunchy-sweet teen comedy is back and it’s as winning as ever. The kids at Moordale High are still clueless when it comes to matters of the heart and the bedroom, as exemplified in the new series' opening when a mini-epidemic of Chlamydia breaks out among the school’s Jermaine Stewart-murdering Glee Club.
Otis (Butterfield) – aka “sex kid”, the uptight virgin who hands out carnal advice in the school’s dilapidated toilets – isn’t the only shagging expert on hand to assist this term. His boundary-crossing sex therapist mother, Jean (Anderson), who’s going through her own hormonal changes this season, finds herself inadvertently cutting into her son’s side hustle when she’s brought in to fill the gaping crevasses in Moordale’s SRE curriculum. The upshot of this, of course, is to make Anderson more central to the show's delightful ensemble cast, and that's just one reason why these new episodes improve on the sprightly first season.
The show’s melange of British accents and humour dressed up in the codes and mores of American high school can feel discombobulating at times, but the characters always feel real and fully rounded. At first glance, the teens may appear to embody tired tropes borrowed from John Hughes movies – the Jock, the Rich Girl, the Gay Best Friend etc – but soon reveal themselves to be multi-faceted and bursting with surprises. That’s the case for the new characters introduced here too, including statistics-obsessed overachiever Viv and a mysterious French student with a penchant for Pablo Naruda.
This humanistic approach can go too far though – the transformation of the school bully (Swindells) from violent homophobe to bisexual sweetheart feels a tad too easy. Staged with more skill is a sexual assault storyline that brings the core female cast together for a rousing episode splicing #MeToo and The Breakfast Club.
As with the first season, sex-positivity abounds. Amid its messy mechanics, the pleasure and playfulness of what we all get up to behind closed doors is never forgotten. It’s a similar story with the show as a whole: it reminds you how awkward it was to be a teenager – and how much fun it was too.
Streaming on Netfix from 17 Jan