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Season Two of Netflix’s Sex Education: Masturbation, Mental Health, and #MeToo

By: Lis Edwards


SPOILER ALERT: This article contains juicy deets from Sex Education Season Two, you’ve been warned!


Season Two of Netflix’s hit show Sex Education burst onto our binge-watch lists on January 17th, with our favourite characters returning to the small screen with more fervour and body fluids than ever before. This season kicks off featuring Otis, one of the show’s main characters, exploring his newfound favourite (ahem) hobby in an epic montage. The (ahem, again) climax of the show doesn’t stop there, this season is packed with powerful commentaries on sexuality, mental health, and the #MeToo movement. Season Two does not disappoint when it comes to outrageous and hilarious anecdotes from “my cum tastes like kimchi!” to cheese-induced erections and air-borne chlamydia hysteria. While the show is funny, explicitly epic, and brutally honest, this season also has a lot to say about the current climate young people live in today.


One of the most moving and relatable storylines this season was Aimee’s experience with sexual assault. Aimee Gibbs (played by Aimee Lou Wood) is a close friend of Maeve (the edgy intellectual and Otis’ sex clinic business partner), especially since her fall from popularity as part of the “untouchable” clique at Moordale High. However, this doesn’t stop her sparkling, energetic personality from shining through. In episode three, she takes her normal bus route to school with an eccentric pink birthday cake for Maeve when she finds the man she stands next to is masturbating on her jeans. When she arrives at school, she brushes off the event as she tells Maeve what happened. Maeve urges her to report it to the police, who interviewed her and take her jeans as evidence. As the season progresses, Aimee begins to grapple with the gravity of her experience. Her character clearly tries to rationalize the incident as not worthy of being called assault, something that the majority of females who encounter sexual assaults also face. Aimee’s experience speaks to a much larger issue that stems from graphic representations of gender-based violence and sexual assault - representations that often depict rape or other explicit attacks as the only legitimate form of abuse. In reality, sexual abuse exists in countless iterations with countless effects. For Aimee, the bus becomes a reminder that triggers anxiety and makes it difficult to get to school or see friends which only contributes to feeling more alienated.


The seventh episode eventually leads to Aimee reconciling with her experience, when she lands in detention with Maeve, Olivia, Ola, Lily, and Viv. They all begin to share their own encounters with sexual assault, something that one in three women will experience in their lifetime while only 5% of victims report their attacks to the police. These statistics, while extremely harrowing, are at the forefront of Sex Education this season, and they provide vital representation to a targeted audience in the hopes of encouraging more young women to report gender-based violence and sexual assault to the authorities. It also encourages an open conversation between survivors, similar to dialogues facilitated through the #MeToo movement. This scene sheds light on the realities of the lived female experience while mobilizing an online movement and placing it into a real-life environment.


There are also more familiar, continuing storylines this season. Jackson, Moordale’s head boy and swimming champion, breaks (his hand) under the pressure of his mother’s dreams for his swimming career. He pursues a part in the school play as an act of defiance against the pressures of his family, which is not an entirely new trope in teen TV but it does allow him to reconcile the tense relationship he shares with his mothers and carves a new direction for his character. Maeve also continues her ongoing rocky relationship with her mother (who is recovering from narcotics addiction) as she oscillates between pushing her away and welcoming her back into her life. Both Jackson and Maeve handle their family struggles as best they can outside of school, often presenting different personalities in public as a way of keeping a distance from their peers.


We also learn a lot from male characters like Otis and Eric as they fumble through some of their first romantic relationships. Otis, played by Asa Butterfield, is shameless in his sexual exploits in the best of ways. We see him masturbating A LOT, dealing with spontaneous boners A LOT, and trying his best in his relationship with Ola. Eric navigates a new relationship with his boyfriend Rahim and his secret affair with Adam, Ola discovering her attraction to Lily, and the inclusion of adult sexuality and pleasure (Adam’s mom really has it goin’ on) are just some of the highlights in this season. The show also provides us with so many versions of what “normal” sex and sexualities look like, which makes it both radically inclusive to all viewers and radically exclusive to any other teen TV show. It teaches young people to explore their bodies and their sexualities while representing broad spectrums of ableness, sexuality, race, gender, and class - somehow, this show has something for everyone! I only wish my highschool sex-ed curriculum could be as informative, alternative, and human as Sex Education is! (shhh, don’t tell Doug Ford).


Maybe the government won’t educate you on sex ed, but in the meantime, you can educate yourself and watch Sex Education on Netflix! Here’s to more sex clinics, vagina workshops, and HOPEFULLY a Maevis relationship (anyone else shipping Otis and Maeve?) next season.