‘Sex Education 2’: Surprising, Confusing and Just Doesn’t Live Up

Sex Education season 2 is definitely watchable, but not as exciting as the first.

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A still from <i>Sex Education 2</i>.

(Alert: Contains Spoilers)

The second season of Netflix’s Sex Education dropped on 17th January 2020 in India. One of the most awaited returns, Sex Education has its audience’s expectations high after the cliff-hanger on its last episode.

Directed by Ben Taylor, the series surrounds itself around socially awkward teenager Otis Milburn, whose mother Jean Milburn is a sex therapist and relationship expert, which adds to his awkwardness related to sex. His school-mate Maeve gets to know about Otis’ innate knowledge about sex and the problems surrounding it after they help the school bully with a prolonged erection. The duo starts a sex clinic in school and become a hit. Otis slowly grows feelings for Maeve but fails to confess. The season finale leaves us at a point where Maeve realises her feelings for Otis but are stuck in a love triangle.

The second season opens with an Otis who can now finally masturbate. With an entire montage devoted to his inability to control his urge to masturbate, we see an Otis who gets erections in unfortunate situations. He reminds us of season 1 character Connor Pearson, who approaches Otis saying, “I think I’m addicted to wanking”.

It raises a giggle as we see Otis repeating the same dialogue. Although, this problem is never attended to or mentioned later in the entire season, except for this one line where he says, “I think I have it under control”.

A still from <i>Sex Education 2</i>.
A still from Sex Education 2.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

The season begins with a bang with Otis and Ola discovering Jean and Jakob’s relationship, a chlamydia outbreak at school and the clinic finally back in business (not that much). After a few episodes, it slowly slides into confusion as multiple sub-plots intertwine and can leave the viewer wondering what’s happening. Too much is going on. The season gathers pace again towards the end.

Otis and Eric re-start the clinic, now that Maeve has left school. But Eric proves unfit to handle clients. Maeve returns to school and they are back in business again, only to find competition. Jean Milburn joins as a reviewer for the school’s Sex-Ed curriculum after the chlamydia outbreak hysteria and soon takes over as the ‘therapist’. She finds it difficult in the beginning to connect and convince kids to speak up. Jean’s therapy is soon a hit although nobody tells us how. There are several such goofs in the series, probably owing to the presence of multiple writers on the show.

The therapy has extended to faculty and family members of faculty, some of which seems unnecessary at times. Jean comes to know about anonymous ‘Sex-Kid’ and discovers it is Otis towards the end.
A still from <i>Sex Education 2</i>.
A still from Sex Education 2.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

The multiple sub-plots make it seem like there’s too much going on. At a point in the series, every character goes through a similar change in their relationship where a third person exists. We see triangles overlapping, and while it might be fun to watch, because many characters explore the fluidity in their sexualities, it can also be confusing at the same time since most characters are going through similar issues.

The protagonist Otis Milburn played by Asa Butterfield sees a complete shift in character. He is now more open about sex, irresponsible, rude, arrogant and we see less of him.

Eric, rather than Otis, feels like the protagonist of the season. As the character who stood out in season one, Eric stands out even more this season. Played by Ncuti Gatwa, Eric Effiong arcs were one of the most beautiful arcs in Sex Education. Eric makes a boyfriend, but later realises his feelings for Adam Groff who returns from military school. Eric’s story arc feels pure and heart-warming. Adam has a hard time accepting his sexuality. A conflicted Eric is confronted by Adam in the season finale. Eric’s character does not settle to be the side-kick best-friend character and is independent of Otis in terms of story-line and character.

Publicity stills from <i>Sex Education 2</i>.
Publicity stills from Sex Education 2.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Many characters have broken away from their characteristics set in season 1, leaving them unpredictable but at the same time, giving them a space to grow. The characters have been explored and have more elaborate story-lines and character arcs.

Well, spoiler alert! The season 2 finale of Sex Education has a sexual fantasy rendition of *drum-roll* Romeo and Juliet, a musical directed by Lily, well of course there are tentacles, phallus hands and vagina hats. The head-teacher protests the rendition and blames Jean for ruining discipline by running a sex clinic, to which Otis reacts by admitting to running the clinic.

A still from <i>Sex Education 2</i>.
A still from Sex Education 2.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

We see new characters, Sami Outalbali’s Rahim, the French transfer student who becomes Eric’s boyfriend and Chinenye Ezudu’s Viv.

Maeve and Otis share lesser screen-space than the first season, proving time and again that the season is not about them, somewhere not quenching the curiosity we were left with in the finale of season 1. This season too has left us wondering what happens to the duo, now that they know about their feelings for each other.

Sex Education addresses several other issues as well, like molestation on public transport, drug abuse and family pressure. The season takes us on an emotional ride in some episodes like, Aimee fighting trauma of public molestation, Maeve reconciling with her mother and step-sister, Adam accepting his sexuality and Jean experiencing heartbreak.

Though shot in Wales and England, Sex Education still has us left confused about the time and place it is based in. This season is written by Laurie Nunn and Sophie Goodhart alongside Mawaan Rizwan, Rosie Jones and Richard Gadd.

Sex Education season 2 shall surprise you at certain turning points and confuse you in others. Personally, there were higher expectations from this season. The first season had set a rhythm in terms of story-telling, cinematography and plot-twists, all of which goes off-beat few episodes into the second season. As we wanted to see more of Otis and Maeve in this season, we are back to square one, wondering if they’d get together in the next season. The second season has offered closure to most sub-plots, leaving us asking what’s left for the next season, very vague. The storylines at cliff-hanger for the next season are those of Jean and the Otis-Maeve relationship.

Personally, this Sex Education season 2 fails to ignite the ‘What happens next?’ curiosity, pretty early even before the season reaches its finale. And that remains even after the finale. Even though a third season has not been announced officially by Netflix, Sex Education season 2 has loose ends to tie up. A season 3 shall only work if it regains the rhythm, with lesser confusion.

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