TV Review: Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’ Season 2 Still Educating Viewers of the Complexities of Teenage Sex Lives

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Viewers’ favorite teenaged sex therapist is back. Season 2 of Netflix’s breakout British teen dramedy “Sex Education” picks up where we left off with Otis’ sex therapy side hustle pretty much over with Maeve away from school. But don’t think that it’s all over…this season’s filled with love triangles, father issues, a little friendly business competition and a few other timely social issues.

All of our favorite characters return in this coming-of-age drama. There’s Otis (Asa Butterfield) who has to come to grips with his true feelings for his girlfriend Ola (Patricia Allison), whether or not he’s really over Maeve (Emma Mackey) and his new sexual awakening. Otis’ best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) has his own love triangle to contend with while also trying to stay true to himself. Maeve is still dealing with the complexities and responsibilities of have a mother with an addiction problem while also proving that she is a responsible and outstanding student who deserves a second chance.

Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) is still dealing with the pressures of living up to other people’s expectations and being the perfect student-athlete but not living for yourself. And then there is Otis’ sex therapist mother, Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson), who is still juggling the responsibilities of her careers, her relationship with Jakob (Mikael Persbrandt) and being a single mother raising a teenaged son.

While the first season was filled with more laughs, Season 2 is taking itself a little more serious tackling touchy subjects such as misconceptions about sex and the consequences of such ignorance, abandonment and father issues, what it really means to be a “man,” sexual assault and the lingering effects, sexual identity and orientation and teenage sexual freedom, both negative and positive. While dealing with some of the same issues as other teen-focused dramas such as “Euphoria,” “Sex Education” is not as brutal and gritty and takes a much lighter tone while not diminishing the seriousness or effectiveness with which it handles the subject matter. Season 2 really places an emphasis on the “education” part of its title.

While still filled with lusty teens and high school drama, “Sex Education” still offers up many sweet and tender moments…whether dealing with female sexual assault statistics or “morning after” scares, the complex characters pull viewers in and are able to empathize. In this new season, we also see that while Otis is perceptive when it comes to others’ relationships, he’s not very perceptive when it comes to his own…whether that’s his mom, his girlfriend or even his dad. Side characters like the quirky Lily, naive and gullible Aimee and headmaster Groff get more shine this season with their own story arches that intertwine with main characters.

There are also a few new faces thrown in the mix that make for some interesting side stories (e.g. Maeve’s new disabled neighbor Isaac, new love interest Rahim and overachiever Viv). These new characters add an extra layer of complexity to our main characters’ story arches. “Sex Education” continues to introduce stereotypical characters and then add a layer of complexity. Just as in the first season, the acting is solid all around and the costume design and set design are still standout and help to create a beautiful tapestry that makes the story that much more rich.

Although a teen comedy, the series is timely, LGBTQ positive, feminist and still deals with the mundane realities of sex. Of course there are still the same STD scandals, “slut shaming” and the quest to “pop your cherry” that are found in most teen-centered dramedies, but “Sex Education” is so much more than that and well worth the watch.

“Sex Education” Season 2 season premieres on Netflix Jan. 17.

GRADE: (★★★½)