“I’m addicted to wanking.”
“My pubes are out of control.”
“I wish I could be a normal kid, with a normal dad…and a normal dick.”
The trailer of Netflix’s latest release, “Sex Education” is quirky and daring, with subtle hints at heartbreak down the road. The premise of the show — a shy virgin (Otis) partnering with an unattainable “cockbiter” (Maeve) to open a high school sex therapy clinic — is already plenty interesting on its own. Add in supporting storylines about abortion, sexuality, identity, infidelity, and impotence and you’ve got a contender for the most interesting and inclusive sex positive show of all of 2019.
So what did “Sex Education” get so right? Pretty much everything. Sex Education It is a refreshingly honest and, at times, brutal depiction of what it means to be a sexual being. This is a show I so desperately wish I had while stumbling through sex in my teens and early 20’s. In the series, sex is normalized and its participants are humanized. The “weird,” “freakish,” and “uncomfortable” are squarely acknowledged, not swept under the rug.
In the first episode, we meet Adam, the school bully with an unfortunate combination of an infamously large member and sexual performance issues. His girlfriend, Aimee, needs him to ejaculate to feel desired or to have a sense of self-worth — but he can’t. On the flip side, she performs during sex rather than understanding what her body needs or enjoys.
I can relate. I’m part of a large percentage of women in the US who can only orgasm from clitoral stimulation. Through my early 20’s, I felt that there was something wrong with me; that I was missing some key aptitude for sex because I couldn’t orgasm from vaginal penetration alone. Similar to Aimee, my satisfaction from sex coincided with my partners’ orgasm rates and had little to do with my own pleasure. If I’d had this show in my life, perhaps I would have felt emboldened to explore my own body and advocate for my pleasure, as Aimee does with a later partner.
But one of the greatest strengths of this show is its diverse representation of sex, both in terms of the identities of the characters themselves and the experiences they’re having. Otis’ best friend, Eric, is the gay son of African immigrants who spends the season exploring his own identity through both revelatory and heartbreaking experiences. Maeve navigates the emotion-filled process of getting an abortion. While she’s there, we meet an older woman who has loving children, but is a “regular” at the clinic — a rarely told storyline that is far more common than you’d think. Otis’ mother navigates both a sexual and budding emotional attraction to her plumber, giving us a refreshing reminder that parents are still very much sexual beings with needs and wants.
The show deftly weaves these storylines in a way that places equal value on each one. This combination of exposure to other’s experiences and seeing ourselves represented on the screen creates a uniquely impactful show; a standout in Netflix’s line up.
Finally, the show clearly aligns with DC Being’s core message: Sex is a natural part of being. “Sex Education” is filled with bold beings, passionate beings, curious beings, and, yes — of course — sexual beings. The characters are not solely defined by sex; rather, they are built out as complex and layered beings. It is an honest and beautiful thing.
“Sex Education” is the sex positive treat that should be enjoyed (without moderation) and celebrated, mused upon alone, and discussed with close friends and sexual partners.
Image credits: All images via Sexual + Being | Featured Image via Sexual + Being//Netflix