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Sex Education

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Sex Education TV Poster Image
Quirky comedy has terrific premise, tons of mature content.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 6 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

This comedy is dirty, but sweet. Characters are very frank about sex and desire in a way that comes off as positive and healthy. Themes of communication, self-acceptance, and compassion are clearly communicated, and relationships grow and strengthen over the course of the show. People with problems are able to improve under the care of accepting therapists. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jean is an older woman who's not ashamed of her sexuality or to talk about sex with her teen son. Otis is a confused young man, but he's confident in many ways and grows over the course of the series. Otis and Jean have a genuine relationship that also grows. Maeve is called "slag" and made the subject of sex jokes at school; Eric is a proud and out gay teen, both are able to resolve some -- but not all of -- their issues. Characters are diverse in age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation. 

Violence

Violence has connections to bullying, including sexual harassment: Eric is bullied and shaken down by a boy who threatens him physically, slaps him, slams him up against lockers, and more. A girl knees a boy in the crotch after he repeatedly tells her "nice rack."

Sex

Sexual content is frequent and very mature. Both males and females are visible nude including a scene in which a boy displays his naked uncircumcised penis to a crowd at school. Characters have very explicit sex, with lots of movement and noises as well as bare breasts and talk about orgasms, positions, body fluids, masturbation, pornography, and the like. A character methodically lays out the supplies for masturbation (lube, tissues, pornography with a nude woman on the cover) before being interrupted by one of his mother's lovers, in one of her robes. A girl is the subject of sexual rumors, like about her giving oral sex to multiple males on a dare. We hear about one couple's experience with "strap-on" sex, and so on. Expect same-sex kissing and dating. 

Language

Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "damn," "hell," "piss," (urinating) Sexual words are common: "t-ts," "c--k," "strap-on," "spunk," "jizz," "hand jobs." A girl is called "slag" and "nympho," a gay teen is called "f-g." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage drinking and drug use is casual and frequent. Teens smoke cigarettes and drink whiskey and beer. A teen shares a joint with the mom of one of his friends. A teen boy takes 3 Viagra in hopes of giving his girlfriend better sex.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sex Education is a comedy about a sex therapist (Gillian Anderson) and her semi-miserable, definitely sexually uneasy teenage son (Asa Butterfield). The overall vibe is sweet: Characters are supportive of each other, and they generally treat each other with acceptance and kindness. Notable exceptions are two bullied characters -- Eric, who's physically menaced for being gay and gentle, and Maeve, who's the "slag" (the show is set in England) of the school. But their arcs have some redemption, as both work to handle their abusers and accept themselves. Sexual content is extremely frank: Viewers see both male and female nudity, including close-ups of genitals. Characters have sex with lots of movement, noise, and realistic talk about orgasms, sexual practices, positions, body fluids, body parts, and on and on. Both opposite-sex and same-sex couples kiss and date; the show has a general openness and acceptance around gender identity issues and many types of sexual orientations, including asexuality. Women, including one in her 50s, have strong/central roles, and their desires and sexuality are represented as much as those of male characters. Language is frequent and often sexual: Expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," and "hell," as well as "c--k," "jizz," "t-ts," "f-g," and "slag." Teens habitually drink, smoke cigarettes, and smoke pot, including a scene in which one character's mom flirtatiously shares a joint with a teen. In another scene, a boy takes multiple Viagra in hopes of having better sex with his girlfriend and suffers a painful erection, which is played for laughs. Bottom line? This show is mature but positive, with realistic problems and relatable characters who often show each other profound kindness in the midst of TV absurdity. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBryantnic January 13, 2019

Not only no!

My 16 year old asked if she could watch it. I told her I would watch it and let her know. Less than 30 seconds in and I it was a hard NO! If you allow your chi... Continue reading
Adult Written byAmara Carter January 16, 2019

Don’t Keep Your Kids in the Dark

Raising a 16 year old can be hard enough, but when you shield them from media that portrays accurate depictions of what kids are going through at their age, you... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bykatebrown January 14, 2019

Good Humor and Messages

Yes, there are a lot a sex scenes. Yes, there are lots of references to sex. However, this is a reality of being a teenager/high school in our day and age. This... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bysydd January 15, 2019

too graphic

not for kids at all, I am 14 and skipped through some of the show cause it was basically porn and I'm not about that. I would never let any child watch thi... Continue reading

What's the story?

Otis (Asa Butterfield) has had pretty unconventional SEX EDUCATION. His mom Jean (Gillian Anderson) is a sex therapist who practices the sexual freedom she preaches to her clients and to her son. So maybe it's no surprise that when savvy school pariah Maeve (Emma Mackey) points that that many of their classmates are struggling with their own sex lives, Otis is ready to dispense some of the wisdom he's heard over the years. But is their business just business? Or is there something else brewing between the two? 

Is it any good?

Stocked with great actors and built around a premise with comic legs (if you're okay with an oddly mature sex romp mostly set in a high school), this quirky comedy is a total kick. Its teens are brimming with hormones: making out before school, getting busy afterwards, even Otis' eager best friend (the disarmingly charming Ncuti Gatwa) gave "two and a half hand jobs" to a boy he met on vacation. The sexual barrage continues at home, where Otis' mom asks him frankly about his masturbation habits, and passes on intimate advice to a classmate who came over to work on a project. Meanwhile, Otis himself is a late bloomer. Or not interested. Or something, even as he passes on his extensive knowledge on the subjects to teens struggling with varied dysfunctions. 

It's an interesting contrast to vintage teen sex comedies, which blithely assume that everyone's doing it, or wants to, and the only problem is a lack of sex, not too much of it. Or not the right kind, or with the wrong person, all dilemmas faced by those who come to Otis and Jean for their advice. It's a nice shot of realism in a show that often reads as absurd -- e.g. in the show's first episode, a young man climbs on a cafeteria table and exposes himself to the student body as a stab at "owning his narrative." Despite such hijinks, the show is centered on a central and little-examined truth: though most people want love and sex, far fewer know exactly how to get it, or what to do with it once they have. That mooring lends Sex Education an essential sweetness and relatability that will make viewers want to see more -- because they'll see themselves. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the premise of the show. Is it realistic that teens would pay for sex therapy from a non-professional? Or from anyone, at all? Why do shows heighten reality? Is it for comic or dramatic effect, or both? Does the premise of this show work for you? 

  • Most of the actors cast on Sex Education as teens are in their twenties. Does that make it harder for them to believably play teens? Does it make their sexual activities easier to watch? Why would older actors be cast instead of teens?

  • How do the characters on Sex Education demonstrate empathy and communication? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

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