‘Sex Education’ season two: sexy, scintillating and sometimes serious

Courtesy of Netflix

The second season of “Sex Education” begins in a way that encapsulates the show: nearly uncomfortable, honest and hilarious. Our protagonist, Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), is back — and, apparently, is now a convert into the world of sex-crazed teenagers that populate the show. Season two picks up soon after the heartbreaking finale episode, in which Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey), resident tough girl, comes just a little too late to confess her feelings for Otis. The show dives fully into the love triangle between the two friends and Otis’ new girlfriend, Ola. To the show’s benefit, a couple of love triangles are also added into the mix. While Maeve and Otis are at the heart of the show, the writers don’t limit themselves to the two protagonists. It’s impossible not to fall in love with the rest of the characters, whose effortless charisma and funny one-liners are played perfectly by a talented cast of fairly unknown actors. As if the jokes and romance weren’t enough to draw the audience in, “Sex Education” features incredibly beautiful shots of the strange town the characters live in and amplifies its themes with lovesick, lustful oldies. 

 

Last season, the show was focused on Otis and Maeve’s underground advice business that catered to a rotation of wacky classmates with an arrange of sex problems. While that’s still present, there’s an obvious emphasis on behalf of the showrunners to fully flesh out the lovable characters from season one and get the audience to similarly root for the new faces. Three characters, in particular, manage to gain sympathy fast: Adam, the school bully, Aimee, Maeve’s ditzy friend and Rahim, the new kid in school. “Sex Education” builds on Adam’s storyline in the new season to give the audience a deeper view of his abusive home life and his blossoming feelings for Otis’ effervescent sidekick, Eric. Their secret romance is only further complicated because of Adam’s inner turmoil and Rahim’s intense interest in Eric. The actors’ nuanced performance during key scenes ensure that this additional love triangle does not feel excessive — instead, it is just as poignant and intricate as the main pairing.

 

At one hour, the show is about the length of most other teen shows, but it utilizes every second of the eight episodes to maximize the amount of information and entertainment conveyed. Aimee, for example, goes through a jarring sexual experience that is both captivating to watch but thoroughly informative. The show doesn’t rely on Otis, or his sex therapist mother, Jean (Gillian Anderson), to deliver information about all of the different aspects of sex; it manages to do so through other characters in funny, weird and heartbreaking ways. Just as the writers don’t shy away from the absurd situations that sometimes accompany sex, they also don’t turn away from its seriousness. The show is literally called “Sex Education,” and the viewer will definitely leave each episode with comprehensive knowledge about the subject.

 

Humor, star-crossed lovers and education aside, the show also has lovely, artistic shots that aren’t usually presented in a series where teenagers are the targeted demographic. The town of “Sex Education” exists in a liminal space that can be straight out of an American town in the 1980s — that is, if it weren’t for the British accents and the modern phones of the characters. This continues the tone of the first season, which makes for a tonally compatible series; the transition from the previous episodes into the new ones is seamless. These details could have clashed together if taken too extremely, but the setting establishes a vibrant color scheme that the characters carry into their wardrobes. There are neon stripes galore! Fortunately, the showrunners manage to strike a perfect balance between the rich landscape and the over-the-top outfits to produce wonderful shots. Even in scenes of high emotional intensity, it’s difficult not to notice the striking background. 

 

The masterminds behind the show are exceptionally adept using details like the characters’ clothing choices to establish a nostalgic theme; they maintain that reminiscent feel with the soundtrack. The soundtrack ranges from the 1970s to the 1990s, which not only makes for a unique listening experience, but adds a sense of cohesiveness to the show. “Sex Education”’s aesthetic is quirky, funny and charming; frankly, the show’s essence would be disturbed if it featured music from contemporary artists like Lil Uzi Vert or Justin Bieber. There is only one deviation from the time period the soundtrack is grounded in, and it is obviously an intentional choice. In the latter half of the season, Anderson delivers a tear-jerking performance that is accompanied by Sufjan Stevens’ “Mystery of Love.” The euphoric melody, Stevens’ sorrowful voice and heartfelt lyrics are perfect for the scene and a great break from a soundtrack that is packed with oldies. 

 

Season one left season two with some pretty big shoes to fill, but the cast and the writers manage to exceed expectations. Season two of “Sex Education” manages to intertwine amusing storylines, comedic characters, dismal situations and a literal sex education in a brilliant way. The season finale ends neatly, wrapping up secondary storylines but maintaining an ongoing conflict that sets up flawlessly for a season three.

 

Verdict: Season two of “Sex Education” will bring tears to your eyes with both its touching scenes and hilarious banter. If that’s not enough to keep you watching, the phenomenal shots of the colorful high school and the artfully crafted soundtrack will make it easy to binge-watch in a weekend.

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