The Official Blog of Author Tristan Vick
FINALLY! My review of "Sex Education" airing exclusively on Netflix
Sex Education is such a brilliant show.
It's a show that hits extremely close to home for me in so many ways. Most of all, the relationship that Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Maeve (Emma Mackey) share is so uncannily similar to something I experienced growing up that I cried at the end of the season for the deluge of all too real memories it brought back.
Otis and Maeve seem to be destined soulmates. But she's dating another guy. In episode 3 Maeve finds out she's pregnant with the child from a guy she is hooking up with but doesn't care about. She decides to ask Otis to pick her up at the abortion clinic since she only trusts him and nobody else.
Maeve doesn't have any parents. Her dad is dead. Her mom, a drug addict, has been missing for years. Her brother is a transient drug dealer. She lives on her own (like a friend of mine I knew in high school who didn't know where her mother went either).
Otis loves Maeve for everything she is. And he's smart enough to not be dragged in by school social cliques and drama. He, like Maeve, exists outside of the school bubble which makes them perfectly suited for the inevitable team-up between the two of them as they start a sex therapy business at school to help frustrated teens with their love lives.
It turns into a much bigger business than originally planned and soon they are helping out an entire campus of kids sort out their relationships and sex lives.
The show is charming. Genuinely funny. And has excellent character stories.
But it's Maeve and Otis's story that really hit me. If I were a boxer, this would be a gut punch so hard that it would make me puke my guts out.
I had a girlfriend who also got pregnant by another guy. She decided to keep hers and, well, that effectively ended our relationship. But, I still loved her at the time.
Like Otis, who mistakenly thinks Maeve is asking him on a date and he buys her flowers only to realize after the fact that she had an abortion but, in the end, gives her the flowers anyway as an ironic gesture -- which makes her laugh -- all this was me. I experienced this feeling. This situation. Albeit slightly different.
The girl I was seeing was like Maeve in so many ways. She had that dark edge, she was a loner, she lived in her own apartment her junior and senior years of high school. She smoked cigarettes and cussed. She didn't care what people thought, dressed punk, and would skip school just as freely and nonchalantly as Maeve does in the series.
It was like watching my long lost soul mate. A girl who once told me that we were but two ships passing in the night.
That was a very accurate depiction of our relationship. We loved perhaps a little too deeply. And this love we had for one another was perhaps magnified by the halcyon days of our youth. But the series Sex Education captures that feeling so bloody damn well.
There's a scene toward the end where Maeve realizes her feelings for Otis and runs to tell him. She finds him with another girl. A girl he likes. She knows she could ruin it and be his, but she pulls back. It's such a bittersweet moment. That's the moment the ships sail past one another.
My experience was literally the same but with the roles reverse. I went to her apartment, willing to tell her how I felt, willing to take the place of this guy she didn't even know, willing to raise another man's child because...that's how much I loved her.
I stood at her doorstep, my hand on the doorknob when I heard them talking. Talking about what they should do now that she was pregnant. I stood in silence, eavesdropping, and like Maeve, I buckled. I chickened out. The timing was off. There was too much going on. I could barely process what had gone on...I walked away and...our ships past in the night.
There's more to this show too that seems to run parallel to my own experiences as this same age. Although my best friend wasn't gay, we were close just like Otis and Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) are in the show.
We spent time at each other's houses. Like Otis and Eric, we were as close as brothers. We had a complete level of comfort with one another that leads to a bond closer than most -- the advice of Eric when he's trying to help Otis become comfortable with the notion of masturbating hit home. I shared pubescent discussions with my best friend that was extremely similar. At a time where we were figuring out our bodies and developing...it was nice to have someone right there going through it with you.
Another thing that struck me is how the school bully treats Otis. He calls him "new kid," because he can't quite remember Otis ever being anything that stood out enough to pop up on his bully radar. I had that experience too. The bullies never went after me. They were almost oblivious to my existence. But then, one day a big jock -- who was also a dick -- asked me if I was new at school. I was like, dude, we've been in the same class since 5th grade. This was my sophomore year in high school, mind you.
When Ottis gets called "new kid" by the bully who is also strongly weirded out by Otis's intelligence and maturity... I laughed so hard. That was me in a nutshell.
Like Otis, I was comfortable with who I was. I wasn't doing any soul searching and I wasn't an immature wanker either. I read all the time and had ideas, and could formulate an opinion on things that sounded less like an adolescent and more of an adult. People thought I was weird because of it.
But some people saw me for me...and that brings us back to the relationship between Otis and Maeve and the girl that I loved perhaps a little too deeply.
You see, Otis loves Maeve for who she is but Maeve can't bring herself to love herself. But Maeve loves Ottis, but can't drop her bullshit facade of an independent woman who doesn't need any guy to admit how much she needs Otis in her life.
She uses him as a sounding board for all her problems. She opens up and confides in him. Tells him her most personal secrets. She even shows him where she lives. Something she hasn't even done for anyone else but for her best girlfriend.
I was that guy. She was that girl. She confided in me. Told me her most intimate thoughts and feelings. It created a bond between us that felt unbreakable.
But she didn't know herself. She didn't accept who she was. So she decided to go down the path of her life rudderless. I knew myself. I sailed onward in a straight line, destination in mind. Our courses diverged. Our ships pulled away from one another.
That was that.
Sex Education is one of the best damn shows I've ever seen. Even if it didn't resonate so strongly with me it still has an amazing cast. Excellent writing. Superbly fleshed out characters. And Gillian Anderson's eccentric sex-therapist mom of Otis, Jean, steals every scene she's in.
The show is genuinely funny. I laughed harder at scenes in this series than any comedy I've ever watched. Butterfield's performance is so enduring, so genuine, so excellent that sometimes I forget I'm watching an actor and Otis seems... so real. He seems...exactly like me.
And Maeve...she's that girl. The one that got away.
I love this show.
Check out Sex Education on Netflix if you haven't seen it. It will be well worth your time. Heck, it's worth doing Netflix's free trial for, if you don't have Netflix. That's how strongly I feel about this show.
By day I am an educator and a cultural ambassador. By night I entertain notions of being a literary master. In reality I am just a family man and ordinary guy who works hard and loves writing just about as much as I love my family. Just about.