The premise for Sex Education was so bizarre, I had to give it a CANCELLATION prediction. The basic premise is that a student who is the son of a sex therapist starts offering sex advice to students for money. He’s kind of repressed himself, never been able to masturbate even, so the idea of him being the “expert” seems ludicrous — until the local jock has performance anxiety and Otis talks him through it. A “bad girl” in the school sees what he can do, is impressed, and figures out it can be a money-maker. Hence, the premise — sex therapy for students. All based on his knowledge gleaned from his mom’s weirdness and openness with sex.
My initial expectation is that this would be some weird sitcom idea, and while dealing with sex, it would probably have euphemisms for a lot of stuff. Nope, it’s Netflix, there’s nudity (mostly female), sex scenes, and while there are some comedic moments of the light RomCom variety, the show is relatively a quirky meta-drama where the first hour seems almost like a 1980s John Hughes movie with sex. The first “client” is a jock with a big penis, son of the school’s headmaster, and he is unable to climax. Girlfriends talk, he tries Viagra, Otis talks him through it, he can perform, and WHAM, BAM, THANK YOU OTIS, a business idea is born. The initial scenes were incredibly awkward as you don’t know who ANYONE is, including the couple struggling at the beginning (the jock tries to fake his climax), or who the guy is that shows up for breakfast after shagging Otis’ mom the night before (she’s into variety, with no attachment afterwards).
The two main characters are awesome. Otis is played by Asa Butterfield, and I couldn’t place him at all. He’s from Enders Game, but that wasn’t it. I was picturing him younger, maybe? However, I was NOT picturing him 10 years younger playing Mordred on Merlin though. Wow. Regardless, he is great. Plays the “young nerd who likes the girl” and you know eventually she’ll be the secret of his own sexual success. Which is great because Emma Mackey plays the girl, Maeve, awesomely. In only her second acting credit, she knocks it out of the park. She also seems way older than Otis, i.e. more mature, but physically only 1 year older. She is eminently watchable as the bad girl, used to being a social pariah around campus.
Now for the weird part. I watched the mom in about 3 scenes, and I couldn’t place her at all. Nada. Zilch. I had nothing. Sure, she’s got white hair, an accent, and a weird look and aura to her, but it was GILLIAN ANDERSON? Scully from the X-Files. I couldn’t believe it when I was checking out IMDB. She’s good in the show, sufficiently weird.
And it works. A little awkward for the first 10-15 minutes or so, but once the scenes get to school, it gets into a better groove. Enough so that I will revise my estimate to RENEWED. It has some potential. I don’t know if it is likely to hit hard like “Sex with Sue”, but let’s see where it goes.