Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Pilot Review: Sex Education

Sex Education (Netflix)
Premiered January 11

Here we have a British show that’s premiering on Netflix, but, unlike almost all foreign imports, it’s new to audiences everywhere at the same time, airing first-run episodes in the United States. This show reminds me a whole lot of another British show distributed internationally by Netflix that premiered a few months ago, “Wanderlust,” which I enjoyed but ultimately didn’t end up picking up. This one is interesting because, in any ways, it’s a teen comedy, but one that includes plenty of foul language and adult concepts, based in no small part on the fact that its protagonist’s mother is a sex therapist who has no concept of what kind of boundaries she should use with her son and his friends. I was almost positive that Gillian Anderson, longtime star of “The X-Files,” was American, but it seems that living in London for many years has both helped her perfect an English accent and end up headlining one of her country’s shows. She wasn’t actually featured all that much in this opening hour, though it’s fair to say that she chews as much scenery as possible. Asa Butterfield, who is only twenty-one, has already amassed an impressive resumé, and this part is a great one for him. Emma Mackey, who reminds me of a British Jane Levy, seems like a great choice to portray Maeve, who sees an incredible opportunity for sex therapy for students with Otis’ vast knowledge of his mother’s work. Adam is the most intriguing character, desperate to broadcast the size of his penis and distance himself from his headmaster father. This concept isn’t entirely new but it is fun, though I’m not sure this is a show I need to be watching even if I might enjoy it.

How will it work as a series? No one has been entirely subtle up to this point, which makes me think that Otis and Maeve’s operation will be hard to launch without it going public right away. This is one pilot that is expository before getting to the big idea that serves as the focal point for the show, and so to really understand where it’s headed, a second viewing is probably necessary. I imagine many will tune back in and stream the rest of it.
How long will it last? The reviews are pretty good, and premiering so early in the year on Netflix gives this show an easy advantage to be considered one of the best right out of the gate. While it’s sure to be disparaged by whatever ultra-conservative groups still exist to dismiss forward-thinking, uncensored media, this show seems like a perfectly inviting product of the times, and I’d guess it has a promising future ahead of it.

Pilot grade: B+

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