Sex Education was undoubtedly one of the bigger surprises when it dropped last January on Netflix. This funny, quirky comedy mixed awkward situational jokes with a group of well-written and diverse characters that each had meaningful storylines that progressed the show in a compelling way. Sex and romance were explored in a mature and often heartwarming manner and the ending certainly left plenty of scope for a second season.
Thankfully, Netflix green-lit a second season and fast forward a year, Sex Education is back and firing on all cylinders. While some may bemoan the unresolved ending and a couple of subplots that don’t really do much to push the narrative forward, the more melodramatic tone this time around actually suits the show nicely. With Maeve booted out of school and Otis now in a happy relationship with Ola, the status quo is shattered when Maeve returns to school and the sex therapy sessions start back up again.
While he and Ola begin to see cracks forming in their relationship (partly thanks to Otis’ Mum dating Ola’s Father), as the season progresses these cracks slowly evolve into a love triangle between our central trio of characters. This builds up to the finale where things are left frustratingly unresolved in the will they/won’t they angle that’s been set up since the early episodes of season 1.
Thankfully the same can’t be said for the supporting characters this time who all outshine Otis. Jean’s newfound role as a sex education advisor at school brings up some surprising and oftentimes hilarious revelations, Eric finds himself torn between an old flame and new boy Rahim, Aimee deals with a pretty heavy and serious situation on the bus while Jackson struggles to deal with the pressure put on him and, desperate for a way out, finds some relief in new girl Viv. All of these stories interweave with the main plot line, with the preparation (and subsequent performance) of Romeo & Juliet keeping everything glued together.
Of course, if you go into this expecting a lot more progression with Otis and Maeve prepare to be disappointed. There’s little resolution to their story and the frustrating manner this is left open will leave you desperate for news that this show has been renewed for a third season. In a way, these two main characters are actually pushed to the sidelines for much of this season as the subplots are given much more air-time. While this in itself is fine, it becomes problematic during the finale which flips the script and makes the Otis/Maeve situation the focal point, with a cliffhanger ending and many questions left unresolved.
Across 8 episodes, each clocking in at around 50 minutes or so, Sex Education has an awful lot going on and after the slapstick and lighthearted tone of the first season, this teen drama takes a surprisingly dark turn several times over as we dive deeper into the psyche of each character. Aimee still adopts the “dumb blonde” trope but we see her far more vulnerable this time around. Jean finds herself grappling with love, before a bombshell reveal late on leaves plenty of questions over her future, while Adam’s character does a 180 turn. All of this adds an extra layer of maturity to the show but with it, also pushes some of the comedic elements to the sidelines.
There are still jokes here though, but a lot of these actually feel front-loaded to the first half of the season. For the most part, Sex Education devolves into a messy, melodramatic story where each character faces their deepest, darkest issues and with it, a whole load of drama for them to contend with. While some will certainly take to this melodramatic tone, those expecting something more akin to the first season may be left wanting.
Overall though, season 2 is much more of a mixed bag than the first and certainly won’t be for everyone. The cliffhanger ending is disappointing, and the Otis/Maeve/Ola story fades into the background around the midway point of the show in favour of the subplots that honestly feel much more organic and satisfying to watch.
The foundations are certainly laid for a third season but whether Netflix will green-light this or not remains to be seen. Sex Education delivers a more polarizing second season with plenty of questions hanging over this one and the potential future of the show.
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