Just like most of us, I got through the latest series of Sex Education in a single weekend.
I see it as Gen Z’s Inbetweeners and what Grange Hill was attempting to do. And this is why I love how Sex Education is set in the fictional village Moordale, which could be placed anywhere between 1965 and the present day.
The show is almost a passive-aggressive love letter to decades of British Teenage TV. It’s saying ‘We get what you were trying to do, but here’s how you could have done it better.’
Clearly, the initial draw for me was the concept of a teenager of a sexual health therapist selling sex advice in school.
By series three, the characters are fully immersed in relationships and starting to accept who they are, sexually. They have spent the first few years only dreaming about what sex and relationships are like. Now, they’re in it. Reality has hit.
Once Ottis and Maeve’s clinic was quashed, the school is forced to take steps back by teaching abstinence and even shaming the students’ sexuality.
These students are all still learning the ways of the world, yet still being told that what they think, feel and do is wrong somehow.
And this is why I was so confused by everyone’s anger towards Ottis.
Ottis and (poor) Ruby
When Ruby opens her heart to Ottis, we see a glimmer of humanity in the ‘plastic mean girl’. Ottis’ vulnerability and him, unashamedly, being himself, taught Ruby to be proud of who she is too.
What no one (including me) didn’t see coming, was Ruby telling Ottis she loved him. When Ottis responds with ‘That’s nice’ and then swiftly breaks up with her, I think we all chanted a collective f-you to Ottis.
But, let’s remember who Ottis is. He is the son of a very loud and proud sex therapist. In her will to get Ottis to let his hormones run wild, she unintentionally made him close off to that side of himself.
What he represents is the fear that teens experience alongside raging hormones.
They have both gone through two completely different transformations. And these relationships are so important to teenagers’ growth, finding out who they are and what they want for themselves through experimentation and learning of vulnerability.
Eric and (poor) Adam
Where do I start with Eric?
This was one of the relationships we were most excited to see this year. For the most part, it didn’t disappoint, but at the same time, it was this breakup I wanted to shine a light on the most.
What brought me so much disappointment in Eric, was his inability to relate to Adam’s journey.
Throughout the first two series, Eric goes through discrimination, shame, abuse, and identity issues. His journey is beautiful and he truly does become the butterfly he was desperate to become.
But Adam portrays the out gay man who feels as if he must represent LGBTQ in a specific way, yet doesn’t fit into the ‘mold’.
By the end of series 2, their relationship was public. Once this relationship becomes serious, however, Eric seems to bring Adam more shame.
Adam is still coming to terms with what being gay means to him, personally. Even though this was unintentional, rather than Eric being a support system to someone going through similar experiences to him (just in a different way) he finds it stifling, and ends the relationship by saying ‘I felt free’ [kissing another man].
Once you do feel any kind of contentedness and pride in who you want to be and who you have become, the last thing you want to do is go back to those feelings.
What I have to remind myself and what promoted this blog post, was that teenagers are still learning.