Sex Education (TV series)
|Created by||Laurie Nunn|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||8 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||46–52 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Eleven Film|
|Picture format||4K (UHDTV)|
|Original release||11 January 2019 –|
Sex Education is a British comedy-drama web television series, created by Laurie Nunn, that premiered on 11 January 2019, on Netflix. The series stars Gillian Anderson, Asa Butterfield, Emma Mackey, Ncuti Gatwa, Connor Swindells, and Kedar Williams-Stirling. The series became a critical and commercial success for Netflix, with over 40 million viewers, having streamed the first season after its debut on the streaming service. In February 2019, Netflix renewed Sex Education for a second season.
Socially awkward teenager Otis Milburn is ambivalent about sex, despite his mother being a sex therapist who is frank about all aspects of sexuality. After inadvertently assisting the school bully with his sexual performance anxiety, Otis sets up a sex advice business with Maeve—a confident but vulnerable classmate—to educate their fellow students in how to deal with their own sexual problems.
Cast and characters
- Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn, an awkward teenager who struggles with his mother's occupation and her interference in his personal and sexual life.
- Gillian Anderson as Dr Jean F. Milburn, a well-known sex therapist and Otis's mother. She is divorced and regularly has one-night stands but is non-committal.
- Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong, Otis's best friend who is gay and comes from a religious Ghanian family.
- Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley, a social outcast and bad-girl who eventually befriends Otis and begins the therapy clinic with him.
- Connor Swindells as Adam Groff, the headmaster's son who bullies Eric. He has a tense relationship with his father.
- Kedar Williams-Stirling as Jackson Marchetti, the head boy at Moordale Secondary School and a swimming champion. He enlists Otis's help in getting Maeve to become his girlfriend.
- Alistair Petrie as Mr Groff, the headmaster at Moordale Secondary School and Adam's strict father.
- Mimi Keene as Ruby, one of the school's popular but mean girls. She is the cruelest of the school's "The Untouchables" clique.
- Aimee Lou Wood as Aimee Gibbs, another of the school's popular girls who has an unlikely friendship with Maeve. She is always in a relationship and is nicer compared to other members of the school's "The Untouchables" clique. She is from a wealthy family and her home is often used for hang-outs and parties.
- Chaneil Kular as Anwar, the leader of the "The Untouchables" and another openly gay student at the school like Eric.
- Simone Ashley as Olivia, another member of "The Untouchables".
- Tanya Reynolds as Lily Iglehart, a girl who writes alien erotica, and is determined to lose her virginity as soon as possible.
- Mikael Persbrandt as Jakob Nyman, a widowed Swedish handyman who develops a relationship with Jean after working for her.
- Patricia Allison as Ola Nyman, Jakob's daughter who befriends Otis and for whom she later develops feelings.
- James Purefoy as Remi Milburn, Otis's father and Jean's ex-husband who lives in America.
- Jim Howick as Mr Hendricks, a science teacher at Moordale Secondary School who also conducts the Swing Band.
- DeObia Oparei as Mr Effiong, Eric's father who expresses concern over his son's flamboyance and clothing choices and fears they will end up getting him hurt.
- Rakhee Thakrar as Miss Sands, an English teacher at Moordale Secondary School. She is supportive of Maeve and recognizes her talent and intelligence.
- Lisa Palfrey as Cynthia, the owner of the caravan park where Maeve lives. She is having marital problems with her husband, Jeffrey.
- Samantha Spiro as Maureen Groff, the headmaster's wife and Adam's mother. She is a caring wife and mother and loves her dog, Madam.
- Hannah Waddingham as Sofia Marchetti, one of Jackson's mothers. She pushes Jackson to maintain a strict training regime.
- Jojo Macari as Kyle, one of Aimee's boyfriends.
- Joe Wilkinson as Jeffrey, Cynthia's husband.
- Chris Jenks as Steve, a new student at Moordale Secondary School, who becomes Aimee's boyfriend.
- Dan Skinner as Moordale Secondary School's swimming instructor.
- Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Roz Marchetti, one of Jackson's mothers. She is more laid-back than her partner.
- Edward Bluemel as Sean Wiley, Maeve's absent and problematic older brother who raised her instead of their parents.
- Dan Mersh as Harry, one of Jean's one-night stands.
- Lily Newmark as Ruthie, a lesbian who is having relationship problems.
- Alice Hewkin as Tanya, Ruthie's overbearing girlfriend.
- Max Boast as Tom Baker (aka Warhammer Tom), a geeky student at the school who has recently become sexually active.
- Dave Jarrett as Roger Baker, Tom's perpetually disappointed father.
- Daniel Ings as Dan, one of Jean's one-night stands.
- Doreene Blackstock as Mrs Effiong, Eric's mother who encourages him to attend church like the rest of the family.
- Kadeem Ramsay as OctoBoy, a student who hooks up with Lily after the school dance.
- Toby Williams as Tim ("Episode 2"), one of Jean's patients.
- Lu Corfield as Sarah ("Episode 3"), a mother of three who befriends Maeve at a clinic.
- Ezra Furman as Band Singer ("Episode 7"), a musician who performs at the school dance.
Season 1 (2019)
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"Episode 1"||Ben Taylor||Laurie Nunn||11 January 2019|
|Otis, a sixth form student whose mother Jean is a sex therapist, struggles with his inability to masturbate. His best friend Eric, who is openly gay, informs him that everyone in their class has had sex over the summer, except Otis. Adam, the school bully and the son of the headmaster, is unable to orgasm after sex with his girlfriend Aimee. Aimee shares her troubles with Maeve, who has a reputation for being promiscuous. Adam and Otis are assigned partners; when Adam comes over to Otis's house, he discovers all of Jean's paraphernalia despite Otis's efforts to hide it. The next day, Adam tells everyone in class, causing an embarrassed Otis to rush out, with Maeve going after him. Later, they find Adam in an abandoned building, unable to calm down after having taken three Viagra pills. Adam explains his situation, and Otis gives him advice to own his narrative. The next day, Adam exposes himself in front of the entire cafeteria as a means of "owning his narrative." He is able to achieve orgasm with Aimee, but she dumps him as he is now an embarrassment. Maeve proposes to Otis that they run a sex therapy clinic at the school – with Maeve handling the logistics and Otis providing the therapy – and split the profits.|
|2||"Episode 2"||Ben Taylor||Laurie Nunn||11 January 2019|
|Aimee hosts a house party where Otis and Maeve attempt to find clients by giving out free advice (based on a "product sample" idea by Eric). Eric attempts to teach the girls how to properly perform fellatio, but while practising on bananas, one girl's gag reflex kicks in, leading to disaster. Otis locks himself in the bathroom with a couple who injured themselves during an attempt at sex, and provides valuable therapy. Adam breaks into the party and finds Aimee talking to another guy; he smashes a vase full of Aimee's grandmother's ashes into the new guy's head. Jean struggles with Otis being distant from her as he feels she is too intrusive. Maeve, who discovers that she is pregnant, has sex with Jackson to take her mind off things; but he wants a more concrete relationship with her. Dejected due to her pregnancy, she tells Otis she plans to call the sex therapy off. The next day, several students approach Otis for advice. Enlightened, he tells Maeve he intends to continue with the plan.|
|3||"Episode 3"||Ben Taylor||Sophie Goodhart||11 January 2019|
|Otis has a wet dream about Maeve and ejaculates, which he unsuccessfully tries to hide from Jean. It is discovered that Jackson consumes Risperidone At the abortion clinic, Maeve finds out that the clinic's policy requires someone to come pick her up; she asks Otis and he agrees, thinking it is a date. Eric is selected for the Swing Band, and clarinettist Lily offers to help him catch up to speed. At Eric's place, Lily tries to have sex with him, but they end up playing with makeup and watching gay porn once she discovers Eric is gay. Otis goes early to the clinic and gets kicked out; he offers relationship advice to a pro-life couple protesting outside the clinic. Miss Sands, the English teacher, accuses Maeve of plagiarising a paper, but encourages her to put her talent to better use. Jackson wins a swim meet, but is still pushed on by his mother to achieve greater things. Jackson is saddened to see that Maeve was not in attendance. After the abortion, Otis walks Maeve home, and they share a heartfelt hug.|
|4||"Episode 4"||Ben Taylor||Laura Neal & Laurie Nunn||11 January 2019|
|Maeve and Otis continue texting, while Jackson looks for ways to ask Maeve to be his girlfriend. Jackson approaches Otis for advice and pays him upfront; when Otis attempts to return the money, he unwittingly offers Jackson tips about Maeve's interests. Jackson uses the information to get closer to Maeve. Jean is attracted to the handyman Jakob, who has arrived to fix her bathroom. When Otis is carrying out research for lesbian clients (by watching lesbian porn), Jakob's daughter Ola walks in. Eric gets a job as a dogwalker but causes Adam's dog to run off at the park, landing Adam in trouble with his father. Lily asks Otis if he would like to have sex with her (as they are both virgins), but he declines. Otis has another session with his clients in the school swimming pool but doesn't make any progress. Afterwards, Maeve and Otis wind up playfighting in the pool, with Otis getting an erection that he hides from Maeve. When Jackson asks Otis for advice on how to ask Maeve out, he suggests a grand gesture in the hopes of sabotage. Jackson's grand gesture works, and Maeve agrees to be his girlfriend.|
|5||"Episode 5"||Kate Herron||Sophie Goodhart & Laura Hunter||11 January 2019|
|Jackson invites Maeve over for dinner to meet his parents, as they have been dating for a month. The encounter starts going south when the parents enquire about Maeve's parents, so she sneaks out of the back door. Later, she apologises to Jackson and comes clean about her dysfunctional family, prompting Jackson to talk about his insecurities. Maeve and Otis try to find out who is disseminating a particularly embarrassing photo of one of their clients while Otis and Eric plan to attend Hedwig and the Angry Inch in full costume as part of their yearly tradition for Eric's birthday. In the process of solving the photo mystery, Otis stands Eric up. Eric's phone and wallet are stolen, and he is assaulted by two homophobes on the way home. He calls Jean and she picks him up; when Otis returns home, he and Eric get into a massive verbal fight, and both storm off.|
|6||"Episode 6"||Kate Herron||Laurie Nunn & Freddy Syborn||11 January 2019|
|In a flashback, Otis catches his father Remi having sex with one of his patients, leading to his parents' divorce. Following his father's advice, Otis decides to take Lily up on her previous offer. During their session, Otis is incredibly awkward and has a panic attack when Lily's advances trigger his childhood memories. Eric, increasingly isolated, tries to dress "more normal." He winds up lashing out at the Swing Band instructor and punches out Anwar, resulting in suspension. His father tries to connect with Eric but is unsuccessful. Adam wins an essay-writing competition with an essay he had paid Maeve to write. Miss Sands correctly guesses that Maeve wrote the essay (as does Otis) and informs Mr Groff, who is already suspicious. Otis advises Aimee, who has a new boyfriend who insists that she dictate matters in bed. Jean, still infatuated with Jakob, manufactures a situation for him to come to her house and they become intimate. Maeve's brother Sean returns after having disappeared for several months; they reconcile after some tense moments. While trying to sort out his feelings for Maeve, Otis is caught off guard when Ola gives him her phone number and asks him out. He nervously accepts, unaware that Maeve has realised her own feelings for him.|
|7||"Episode 7"||Kate Herron||Sophie Goodhart||11 January 2019|
|Maeve and Otis do not want to go to the school dance, but Jackson and Ola convince them otherwise. Maeve tries to sabotage Ola and Otis's relationship, but Ola is unaffected; when she tries to connect with Otis, he unwittingly insults her and she leaves. Imbued with newfound confidence, Eric goes to the dance in full drag, where he reconciles with Otis. At the dance, Otis's client Liam threatens to jump off a ledge but Otis is able to talk him down when he gives an impassioned speech about unrequited love; unbeknown to him, Maeve is left visibily shaken by his speech, and her reaction is noticed by Jackson. Afterwards, as Otis is telling Maeve that he feels responsible for the incident and wants to shut down their therapy business, Jackson drunkenly confesses that he paid Otis for tips on winning Maeve over. Heartbroken, Maeve angrily terminates both her partnership, and friendship with Otis, and storms off. Later, Jackson gets into a fight with his overbearing mother and returns to Maeve, professing his love for her. Adam gets into a physical altercation with his father, straining their already-troubled relationship. When Jakob opens up to Jean about his wish for a committed relationship, she turns him down due to Otis's concerns regarding his relationship with Ola. Otis finds her draft of a new book that details his sexual frustrations.|
|8||"Episode 8"||Kate Herron||Laurie Nunn||11 January 2019|
|Mr Groff finds the drugs that Sean sold at the dance and assumes Maeve and Otis are running a drug ring at school. He threatens to call the police, but Maeve takes responsibility, making her a candidate for expulsion. She defends herself in front of a tribunal, but the decision is deferred. Distraught after Maeve tells him she does not love him, Jackson starts skipping practice. He agrees to represent the school again if Maeve is reinstated, but the headmaster reneges on the deal. Eric and Adam are in detention; a physical altercation suddenly turns into sex. Their relationship is scuppered when Adam is shipped off to military school. Otis fights with Jean about her intrusiveness, but they later reconcile. Jean goes to tell Jakob she can no longer see him but ends up having sex with him again. Otis apologises to Ola; she accepts, then walks with him back to his house. Sean has disappeared. Maeve finds the essay prize Otis stole from the school office along with his note apologising to her. She goes to his house but sees him kissing Ola and leaves without them noticing. The kiss arouses Otis and he is finally able to masturbate.|
On 28 November 2017, it was announced that Netflix had given the production a series order. The series was created by Laurie Nunn with Ben Taylor expected to direct. Executive producers were set to include Jamie Campbell and Joel Wilson via their production company Eleven Film. On 4 December 2018, it was announced that the series would premiere on 11 January 2019. On 1 February 2019, Netflix renewed the series for a second season.
On 17 May 2018, it was announced that Gillian Anderson, Asa Butterfield, Ncuti Gatwa, Connor Swindells, and Kedar Williams-Stirling had joined the series's main cast. On 16 July 2018, it was reported that James Purefoy had been cast in a recurring role.
Filming for the series took place in the Wye Valley in England and Wales, including locations in Llandogo, Tintern, and also in Penarth in 2018. The scenes set at Moordale Secondary School were filmed at the former campus of the University of South Wales in Caerleon, Newport. Principal photography for the second season took place from May 2019 to September 2019.
On 2 January 2019, the official trailer for the series was released.
On 17 January 2019, Netflix announced that the series was on pace to have been streamed by over 40 million viewers within its first month of release.
The first season received critical acclaim from critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the series has an approval rating of 90% based on 70 reviews, with an average rating of 8.17/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Bawdy, heartfelt, and surprisingly wise, Sex Education is a raucous romp through a group of teenagers whose sexual misadventures are so thoughtfully rendered, adults could learn a thing or two from them." On Metacritic, the series has a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
In a positive review, IndieWire's Liz Shannon Miller gave the series a grade of "A-" saying, "Again, though, it's the kids' story, with the fluctuations in both friendships and relationships pinging back and forth with youthful verve. Sex Education does a lot of things really well, chief amongst them being the creation of a high school world which feels fully developed — realistic to a degree, but.. [with] a sense of escapism." The Daily Mirror's Lewis Knight awarded it a rating of five out of five stars, noting that with "a talented ensemble and explicit tackling of sexuality in young people (and their parents)", it "is an hilariously honest and refreshingly diverse comedy". The New York Times' James Poniewozik described the series as "timely but not hamfistedly topical, feminist, with a refreshing lack of angst about its subject. Sex, in this show, isn't an 'issue' or a problem or a titillating lure: It's an aspect of health".
In a mixed assessment, The Washington Post's Hank Stuever wrote, "there's the usual problem of Netflix drift for an episode or two midway through, where the plot dawdles while the writers and producers figure out an ending. Yet there's an artfulness to the material and a genuine care on display here, too — a message that we are not just about the size and shape and inventive uses of our private parts". In a negative review, The Independent's Ed Power gave the series a rating of two out of five stars and criticised it saying, "Sex Education suffers further for not being grounded in a distinctive time and place...Eager to please but confused, Sex Education could do with a stint on the therapist's couch itself".
Ncuti Gatwa, who plays gay black teen Eric Effiong, has received praise from critics and cultural commentators, who noted his role was not relegated to the cliché of a gay or black "best friend" stock character.
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