Growing up queer in the early 00’s, a certain amount of self-discovery was done through TV shows that held an age rating a lot higher than your actual age.
One of the shows which had the most influence during those confusing adolescent years was E4’s very own Skins. Showing the gritty details of growing up and tackling subjects that they don’t teach you in school, characters like Emily Fitch and Sid Jenkins felt like a group of friends helping you understand how life as a teenager actually worked.
Sure, there were elements which were a little far-fetched and disconnected from real life (most people have never driven their parents car into a large body of water, for example) but it did the job. Yet, as times change, Skins has become slightly outdated in its representation of the minority youth.
Fear not, right on cue Netflix have given us what can only be commended as the Skins of modern times: Sex Education.
The show isn’t flawless. Despite being set somewhere in modern Britain, the cast all sport Letterman jackets instead of school uniforms and throw American footballs around locker-filled hallways. Each house is plastered with décor that feels like the show could be set in the 80’s, but text messaging is used as a huge plot-device.
Writer Laurie Nunn has stated that this was a creative decision to give the series a John Hughes nostalgia-feel. This doesn’t stop these points giving the impression that Netflix is on a mission to get their moneys’ worth from this production by making the show accessible to thousands of different audiences at once.
Despite this, the bad more than outweighs the good that is done over these 8 episodes.
With lesbian mums, the glamorous Eric and his equally as glamorous crush Anwar, a lesbian couple who are learning to scissor and a surprise revelation in the lovable rogue that is Adam, homo-representation is thrown at us in masses. Granted, it probably shouldn’t have taken this long to have a show which feels like a genuine step forward – and not as though a token gay character was thrown in as an afterthought – but it sure feels good to have one now it’s here.
The quantity of queer relationships given screen time in the show isn’t the only important aspect either. Each queer character’s story feels complex and well thought out, and they are all written to be at different points of self-discovery. This is a refreshing break from seeing a gay character play out the same coming-out story which has been seen time and time again, without completely removing this aspect for viewers who need to see it.
While Sex Education may have won my heart with its LGBTQ representation, it boasts so much more than this. Just like its predecessor Skins, the show takes on tricky subjects like repression, abortion, poverty and teenage hormones. What gives it the upper edge over E4’s drama, is that there is no mistake the show is not here to glamorize any of these issues. They are tackled in all their acne-ridden, awkward boner-filled glory.
It feels like someone is finally telling the kids how it is.