Otis Thompson has not one, but two sex therapists for parents. His entire 16 years on the planet have been passionately infiltrated with diagrams, pamphlets, and manuals about sex for as long as he can remember. So, by the time he reaches high school, he has more detailed knowledge on the birds and the bees than he knows what to do with. Until he does — and opens a "clinic" at his high school to answer his classmates’ questions. Unfortunately, this crude yet encouraging narrative that is Netflix’s Sex Education is not based on a true story. But it hopes to inspire the true sex lives (and regular lives) of people all over the world with its honest, graphic portrayal of a troop of horny British high schoolers.
Playwright Laurie Nunn said in a statement from Netflix that the idea for the story actually came to her by surprise. She was going for a playful teen drama and eventually found herself holding — and producing — much more.
"What started as an interesting hook for a comedy show about teenagers, quickly progressed into an opportunity to deal with often unspoken and difficult issues concerning early sexual experiences, the painful reality of puberty and the urgent need for inclusive sex education," she said.
The series is full of open, honest, and positive conversations about sex among teens, and between teens and adults, too. The sex scenes are awkward and sometimes hard to watch, but that’s actually refreshing, considering teenage sex and "first times" are so often over-glorified as something that is love-struck and glamorous 100 percent of the time.
Sex Education‘s nuanced approach to puberty, crushes, and self-discovery in one of life’s most awkward stages does more for representation of reality than most teen dramas in existence. So no, it’s not a true story, but as far as the painfully confusing and conflicting situations many of the show’s characters face, many viewers will probably find them relatable. The characters friendships — and romances — are sweet and complex, and will definitely leave you waiting for more.
Then again, the happy-go-lucky approach to successfully opening a sex clinic in high school without the principal catching on isn’t the most realistic storyline. So that alone reveals its it’s based in slight fantasy. Not to mention, it takes place in a far-off unnamed town in the U.K., tucked among lush, rolling hills, and the high school looks like something out of a fairy tale.
But one thing’s for sure, most people, especially advocates for comprehensive sex education, would love a world in which Sex Education is wholly realistic — meaning, a world where teenage sex isn’t taboo, and abstinence-only curricula are, once and for all, fully realized as the unrealistic factor.
Still, Sex Education is realistic because it’s about confronting the messiness of growing up — and those awkward teenage years everyone spends figuring out what to do with a sudden influx of raging hormones, what to do with love, and what to do with all of your friends dealing with the same exact thing.
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