The hyped about Netflix show is only 3 seasons old and yet it has managed to talk more about sex and sex education than all our collective schools and colleges. Perhaps, the very reason for its proclivity amongst everyone is the very reason that it has enabled us to have conversations regarding the same. Quite akin to its theme and the message it wants to deliver, the story is about a high school student running an underground sex therapy clinic by virtue of having an enabling sex therapist mom who has kept conversation around sex fairly open.
So while these bunch of teenagers go through various issues like discovering their sexuality, erectile dysfunction, and much more, it’s the mom, Gillian Anderson who has pivotal moments in the series. She is what we can undeniably describe as the super cool mom. Someone open about having sex talks with her kids and never being apologetic for being her blunt, honest self. So, whether it is her coaching a bunch of eager and enthusiastic teenagers about masturbation or sexual cleanliness or about handling an effortless STI hysteria outbreak at school, the woman is fearless in her approach to a topic as uptight, thin-skinned, and sensitive as sex. It is most definitely through her that we get to learn that there is absolutely nothing wrong with coaching our children about sex from an early age.
There are a lot of Gillian Anderson moments in particular that establish her to be a phenomenal sexual health professional but heralding an entire school to start a sex health clinic stays at the top. Like most things regarding sex, the general information about sexual diseases is quite inadequate. Through one of her dialogues, she has to emphasize that it is not the curriculum that needs a change wherein we re-educate our children with safe sex practices but rather a more tailored approach where these students can talk to someone about their doubts and confusion regarding the same.
What is understood is that Sex Education sends a clear message. Teens are very eager to ‘come of age’ and of course by that state discover their sexuality and sexual practice. But not having a stable guide to talk to about these things, can cause a lot of unwanted problems like teenage pregnancy or in this case STI hysteria. It focuses on how the taboo around sex, in general, has forced us to go into hiding and create a society where our children are clueless about something this consequential and instinctive. And who else can they best talk about these things to other than their parents?
In another one of her intriguing moments, she discusses asexuality with a student who thinks she might be broken because she doesn’t like the idea of having sex. The scene in itself is quite powerful because the portrayal of sex, up until this point, in our mainstream media has been that of some kind of a carnal necessity of mammals and by that virtue of all humans too. So imagine how hard it must be for teenagers who don't know the concept of asexuality and have to constantly force themselves into uncomfortable situations just because they thought sex is normal and everyone does it.
It is her dialogues that bring peace and insight to this whole conversation. She says, “Sex doesn’t make us whole, so how could you ever be broken?” To have that kind of guide that debases your entire foundation of sex understanding and the one that opens you up to new avenues in terms of sex or sexuality is important, as it forms the background of our childhood or teen trauma. To simply imagine that so many people would lead a better life if only they had someone to talk to these things about.
Thus, through various moments in the show, it is clear that having strong support and an advisor, one with whom we can discuss these sensitive topics can affect the mindset of teens. It is also evident that we need to create a space where we can have more honest and open conversations about sex to nurture such individuals who aren’t unaware of or detest the different sexualities. And lastly, we sure hope that enough awareness is created concerning sexual education and practices so that STIs can be suppressed from the beginning.
Sex education does a fantastic job of bringing a plethora of these points to light. Whether it is through Otis and Maeve’s noob yet intellectual attempt to start a sex therapy clinic or Jean’s constant attempt to be open and upfront about sex with her kids and eventually the students, the topic around sex with respect to socially awkward, nervous yet horny teenagers is dealt with very well. But most importantly, the show leaves you with a very interesting thought- would you be doing anything different had you had a sex therapist in your life growing up?