Season 2 of Sex Education conveys even more striking and nuanced portrayals of what the triumphs and struggles of romantic and sexual life are like, and not just for teenagers in high school, but also for fully grown, “mature” adults. It does so by going beyond the plight of the main characters Otis (Asa Butterfield), Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), Maeve (Emma Mackey), Adam (Connor Swindells) and Jean (Gillian Anderson) and delving deeper into the lives of supporting characters such as Aimee (Aimee Lou Woods), Ola (Patricia Allison) and Olivia Hanan (Simone Ashley). It picks up where the first off: there’s a chlamydia epidemic, Maeve is working at a pretzel stand but is determined to come back to school, Jean is still with Jakob (Mikael Persbrandt) and Otis can’t stop touching himself now that he’s finally able to.

Problems pertaining to love and sex: being vulnerable, the discomfort which comes with trying something new, sexual orientation and more are dealt with delicately and sincerely and each character has a fulfilling character arc that has you empathising and rooting for them as the show progresses. Olivia learns true intimacy as her boyfriend sees her when she’s at her most vulnerable and Anwar (Chaneil Kular) learns that before sex, comes trust and openness. Ola’s confusion about who she is and what she likes goes up against Otis’s present but subdued feelings for Maeve, while Jean’s continuing love for Jakob clashes with the arrival of her ex-husband and Otis’s father, Remi (James Purefoy), only causing more complications and learning experiences for them all. Eric flits not just between two men but two versions of himself and Adam realises that he can’t be loved until he lets go of the past and is true to himself.

The show covers territory beyond what its title suggests as it brings parenthood and abandonment, mental health and sexual assault into the light just as adeptly. Maeve grapples with her mother’s sudden return, addiction and a new addition to the family, realizing that some decisions are hard, but need to be made all the same while Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling), battles immense pressure to do what is expected of him when he would much rather be doing something else. Maeve, Lily, Olivia, Ola and Viv all come together to share their with Aimee and help her stay strong after she experiences sexual assault in one of the most heart-wrenching and heartwarming scenes in the season.

Sex Education manages to discuss a lot of important problems through drama and comedy without becoming the overdone coming of age story about teenagers having crushes and discovering their bodies. In this show, high school students and their sex and bodies don’t appear gross and hormonal but rather come across as genuine fears, hopes and dreams.

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