Otis (Asa Butterfield), Maeve (Emma Mackey), Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and the gang are back in the Netflix original series Sex Education. Season two kicks off where season one left us, with Otis discovering he can finally enjoy his body (and has become addicted to just that), and his relationship with Ola (Patricia Allison) progressing at the same time as his mother’s (the amazing Gillian Anderson) relationship with Ola’s father Jakob (Mikael Persbrandt).
Fans of season one who have been eagerly awaiting the second outing of their favourite characters will not be disappointed. The writing is witty, and dramatic with bursts of hilarity – the opening sequence of episode one between Otis, his mother, and an unexpected surprise guest most notable of those laugh out loud moments (you’ll have to watch to see exactly what that surprise is, but best be careful not to throw your snacks all over the couch)!
The setting again for series two is Mooredale High with Mr Groff (Alistair Petrie) hosting the chair of the board Maxine (T’Nia Miller) after a chlamydia outbreak. The student’s first port of call is the self-titled sex thearapist, Otis. However the now strained relationship between Maeve and Otis could make their therapy business difficult, and another unexpected obstacle proves to undermine their scheme as the term continues.
When I watched season one last year, one thing that truly struck me as fresh and interesting was the production design of the show, and this hasn’t changed in season two. So much attention has been paid to every little detail of the programme. From the interiors to the costumes, the aesthetics of the design are very 70s in style. Each and every set is filled with interesting pieces of set design, all telling us a little more about the characters who inhabit the space.
Even though the show is set in the present day, with the teenagers using all of the modern technologies, the highlight is not on those. There are text messages shared between characters, but this is used very sparingly, and to great dramatic effect. The text appears on the screen in a little bubble, in a Sherlock-esque style.
The music is another absolute standout of this production. Care has been taken to choose the right songs for the right moments, and the incidental music is beautifully, gently written, adding to the emotions of each scene. From toe tapping modern music, to gentle classic pieces, the soundtrack keeps the show moving and fun.
The cinematography is luscious and never intrusive, as we witness the most intimate and vulnerable moments of the characters lives. DOP’s Jamie Cairney and Oli Russell and their team have crafted beautiful images, which you just don’t want to look away from. The style of the visuals are cinematic in approach, with each episode feeling more like a film and an episode of traditional television.
At the heart of the series are the characters we care about, with each of the players having their story told, including the adults. There are touching scenes between Mrs Groff (Samantha Spiro) and Dr Milburn, where we’re given an insight into mature relationships and how they’re not all that different to the teenagers they’re raising.
Season two tackles challenging subjects, including sexual assault which is told through the lens of Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood). When assaulted on the bus on her way to school, Aimee first thinks nothing of it, brushing the encounter off as a minor incident, but Maeve encourages her to speak to the police. Aimee’s character arc through season two shows her at her most vulnerable, as the gravity of the situation begins to sink in. The serious issue is a topical one for a show with such a wide reach to tackle, and is done so with honesty, sincerity, and respect.
Unlike a lot of American teenage-driven television shows, Sex Education never feels corny or unbelieveable. All elements of the procudtion come together to make a heartfelt, humerous and honest portal of sex and relationships between all genders and sexualities.
5/5 – Bring on season 3!
Streaming on Netflix in 4K.