GILLIAN ANDERSON plays a sex therapist in a new high school comedy drama
Sex Education, and the top streaming shows
NEW Genre: Comedy Available: Friday 11 January Season: 1 Episodes: 8 Runs: 45min TVSW says: A coming-of-age drama with a twist
NAVIGATING PUBERTY AND burgeoning sexual feelings is tricky enough for any teen, but spare a thought for socially awkward high-school student Otis in Netflix’s new comedy drama Sex Education. He has the added embarrassment of a mother who’s a forthright sexual therapist and is forever offering him advice he hasn't asked for.
Otis (Asa Butterfield) is a virgin with a low libido – the consequence of overhearing rather too much of his mother’s therapy sessions. His mother, Jean, played by Gillian Anderson, is frank about everything and nothing embarrasses her, which puts a strain on their relationship.
‘Jean is quirky, funny and different. I don’t feel like I’ve seen her before on TV and the script really made me laugh out loud,’ says Anderson. ‘She’s professional and well-respected at work, but she has real trouble drawing boundaries as a parent; she just can’t resist getting involved in every aspect of her son’s life.’
But Otis’s life takes a surprising turn when he and his smart, rebellious classmate Maeve start a health clinic at their school. ‘Otis isn’t your usual high-school virgin character – he ends up becoming a sex messiah,’ explains Butterfield. ‘The very open dialogue at home has fed into his anxieties growing up, and he had a traumatic experience seeing his dad, who is also a sex therapist, sleeping with a client. It’s a funny spin on this kind of show.’
For Anderson, star of The X Files and The Fall, the series was a welcome chance for her to lighten up a little.
‘I have done some comedy before, but even then I was the straight man,’ she says. ‘In real life I’m a lot goofier and sillier than the characters I tend to play. Many elements of my personality never get to see the light of day and I think I’ve known for a while now that I’d rather spend some time doing something funny, so I got lucky with this.’
And she insists Sex Education is not just a series for teens. ‘There’s enough nostalgia there to attract people who remember
The Breakfast Club and those who enjoyed1990s romcoms.’
Butterfield agrees. ‘There are a lot of moments that will strike a chord with people – awkward things that people don’t ever want to talk about,’ he says.
‘It’s not just a laugh-out-loud comedy either, there’s also a lot of heart and there’s real progression for these characters. It’s scary being that age, when you don’t even know where to begin with sex, and there’s a lot of pressure on young people by “norms” presented in the media. I hope this show demonstrates that.’
ASA BUTTERFIELD AND GILLIAN ANDERSON AS AWKWARD TEEN OTISAND MOTHER JEAN
OTIS TEAMS UP WITH MAEVE