Sex can be a lot of things: fun, exciting, gratifying and hey, even scheduled. It can also be confusing, awkward, messy and weird. And no show captures this complexity better than British teen comedy-drama Sex Education.
Typically, adolescent sex is depicted onscreen either as hyper virtuous (hello, unplanned pregnancies from The O.C., One Tree Hill, Glee and more) or the punch line of a grotesque joke (think the American Pie movies). Is it too much to ask for an honest (and dare we say, enjoyable) portrayal? Well, the sexcapades of a group of teenagers at fictional Moordale High is exactly that.
In case you’re not familiar, the show follows Otis (Asa Butterfield), a high school student whose mother (a smoking-hot Gillian Anderson) happens to be a sex therapist. This has given Otis wisdom beyond his years but also put him off the act itself. When cool-girl Maeve (Emma Mackey) discovers that Otis has a gift for counseling his classmates, she comes up with a business plan. Together they open a sex clinic at school and tackle subjects such as unrequited love, self-esteem issues and more.
The result is a sweet, funny and genuine spin on the usual coming-of-age story. But if you’re wondering what grown-ups can get out of the show (apart from some great entertainment), here are four takeaways:
1. Dirty talk isn't necessarily about the words you use. When Mr. Hendricks seeks Otis' counsel for how to talk dirty to Miss Sands, his advice is simple: "Listen to what she's actually saying." And so when the science teacher asks Miss Sands why she likes dirty talk, she reveals that she doesn't actually care what he says...she just wants to feel sexy. This gives Mr. Hendricks the confidence to fulfill her desires. (Cue: screaming "baba ganoush" in total ecstasy.)
2. If you want good sex with your partner, masturbate. Why? Because you’ll never be able to effectively communicate with your partner if you don’t feel comfortable with yourself, a lesson Aimee had to learn in order to enjoy sex with Steve. In the words of Otis, "Think about things you enjoy when it's just you...alone." Then you can talk to your partner and let them know what works for you.
3. Don’t be ashamed of your "O" face. Olivia has sex with her boyfriend but covers his face with a pillow while climaxing, claiming she has an ugly come face. His response? "You might think we look stupid or unappealing, but sex isn't always perfect. It should be about feeling good, not looking pretty." Here, here.
4. Orgasming is like riding a bike. Per Jean, even if you haven't been touched in a while, your vagina doesn't "stop." In other words, you can still have orgasms after long spans of not being in a relationship. Particularly if someone kindly gifts you a vibrator.