Season 2 of Netflix’s Sex Education starts with a bang: masturbation, chlamydia, and secret relationships galore!
This week, Netflix released the highly anticipated second season of its original comedy, Sex Education. The show follows the life and mishaps of Otis Milburn, a high school student whose mother is a sex and relationships therapist. Otis has learned a lot from his mother, and spent the majority of Season 1 running a clinic for sex advice at his school, with assistance of his friends Eric and Maeve. The season had a somewhat explosive end. Eric was in a complicated relationship with the school bully, and Otis finally locked down his first girlfriend, which left Maeve heartbroken and expelled from school. Needless to say, fans were rabid for more content!
On Sex Education Season 2 Episode 1, Otis and Eric return to school for a new term, only to find the student body in a panic about an outbreak of chlamydia. Otis struggles with his newfound obsession with masturbating, and Maeve is more determined than ever to get back to school.
New Term, New Problems
The recent chlamydia outbreak has everyone in hysterics. Many students flock to Otis “Sex Kid” Milburn for help, but he’s determined not to get dragged into the drama. He doesn’t want to run the clinic without Maeve at his side. However, thanks to a heavy guilt trip and lots of pushing from Eric, he eventually agrees to intervene. He interviews the suspected Patient Zero, a girl who is being tormented by the whole school even though she’s been tested and cleared. Determined to help, Otis begins investigating the student body to find where the real problem is coming from.
As Otis works his way down the list, old and new characters coming into focus. Eric is briefly distracted by the appearance of a new student—an intense boy named Rahim who recently transferred from France. Otis must also interview Jackson Marchetti, the popular swim athlete. Though they were casual acquaintances last season, Jackson now hates Otis for destroying his relationship with Maeve. Something Otis is still very much unaware of.
Otis is finally able to track down the boy who really started the spread, and talks to him about the importance of communication. The next scene shows that the whole school has calmed down. Eric congratulates Otis on curing the school of chlamydia, but…it’s not actually shown how. Yes, Otis spoke to a nerdy boy about how he needs to be honest with his sexual partners, but that doesn’t make up for the whole school shaming an innocent girl in his stead. The boy doesn’t come forward to tell the truth to the whole school, doesn’t give any visual apologies or explanations. The whole narrative is wrapped up simply because it’s the end of the episode.
This is one thing that really, really bothered me about Sex Education Season 2 Episode 1. Psychosomatic chlamydia is a pretty interesting plot line, but only if it’s handled with care. I don’t think the episode did enough to wrap the story up to give any real meaning to the lesson. If anything, it lets a lying boy off the hook without any narrative consequences. The premise made room for a couple funny lines, but I wish it had been handled better on the whole.
Otis’s New Hobby
Otis himself has come a long way since last season. In Season 1, Otis couldn’t bring himself to masturbate because he was putting so much pressure on himself. As far as Sex Education Season 2 Episode 1 is concerned, it seems he can’t bring himself to stop masturbating. The first few minutes of the episode is dedicated to a comical montage that shows Otis getting a boner in all of the worst and most inconvenient situations. This doesn’t truly become a problem until he tries to hook up with girlfriend Ola…only to find out he can’t get an erection when he needs it most.
Naturally, I thought this plot line was going to have something to do with self-control. Just because a teenage boy has an erection in a parking lot doesn’t mean he has to masturbate to get rid of it. But the show decided to go in a different direction. Keeping in tune with the moral of the chlamydia plot line, Otis learns that he needs to be honest about his problem and tell Ola about it. To his delight, Ola is both amused and supportive. She promises that whatever the problem is, they’ll figure it out together.
Only it seems that is the end of the problem. Otis’s first and only step to solving his so-called “wanking addiction” is to tell Ola about it. Spoiler Alert: After that scene, it’s never addressed again. Much like the chlamydia plot, I thought this subject was dropped rather quickly for convenience. I would’ve liked to see some funny scenes of Otis trying to think of “un-sexy” things to diffuse his boner, rather than rushing off to treat it. As it is, the show offers no explanation for how Otis gets himself under control.
A Complicated Relationship
Otis has another problem on his plate. During his disastrous attempt to try and hook up with Ola, he rushes out with his pants around his knees and tumbles down the stairs. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he tumbles down into the living room, interrupting another couple busy on the couch. That is how Otis discovers that his mother is now in a relationship with Jakob…Ola’s father.
Jakob and Jean’s relationship is something that fans have been watching grow since Season 1. Much like Otis and Ola, they balance each other out. Jean is a very detail-oriented intellectual, who tries to control the variables around her. Jakob, on the other hand, is a very insightful, laid back man who takes things as they come. Watching them come together was one of my favorite parts of the first season. Despite the months that have passed, their relationship is something Jean has been working very hard to keep secret.
This episode shows exactly why that was a good and terrible idea. Jean tells Otis that they were hiding their relationship so Otis and Ola wouldn’t feel pressured in theirs. However, earlier on, she tells Jakob she wants to keep it quiet to preserve her own relationship with Otis. Either way, finding out on accident is about the worst thing that could happen to any of them. Otis refuses to accept that his mother could be in a real relationship, and storms out of the house. The overly complicated collection of relationships is simply too much for him to handle.
The best part of the episode—the whole show in my opinion—is the return of Maeve Wiley. Since being kicked out of school for covering for her brother’s drug operation, Maeve has been living every teen’s nightmare: working food service at the mall. Worse than that, on one of her shifts she runs into her mother, Erin. The two have been estranged due to Erin’s history of drug abuse. Needless to say, Maeve is less than thrilled by the chance meeting.
Erin swears that she returned to make amends with Maeve, part of her recovery program she’s joined to stay clean. Maeve isn’t inclined to believe anything her mother tells her, but the conversation does leave her with a certain sense of clarity. She doesn’t want to end up like her mom, a high school dropout struggling to make ends meet. And so she does what every young woman does when faced with a life-altering decision. She dyes her hair, getting rid of the iconic blonde-and-pink for a no-nonsense brunette. And as much as I support her, I was incredibly sad to see it go.
More importantly, Maeve makes it her mission to get back into school no matter what. She threatens Principal Groff, who is already under a considerable amount of pressure from the school board due to the chlamydia hysteria. If he doesn’t let her back into the school, she will reveal that all the star pupils of the school were turning in essays written by her. She goes as far as to read one of the plagiarized essays over the intercom in the middle of class. Finding his hands tied, Principal Groff agrees to let Maeve rejoin the student body.
But school isn’t the only thing Maeve has to join. Her English teacher, Miss Sands, insists that Maeve also joins the school’s Aptitude Scheme for advanced students. And of course, Otis approaches her to ask if she’d be willing to reopen their sex clinic business. Maeve is hesitant to agree to his proposal, largely because she may still have feelings for Otis. But in the end, that’s exactly why she agrees to continue it.
The first episode of a season is always tough to get right. There’s a lot of ground work to be laid, and loose ends to tie up from the previous season. It’s difficult to balance the continuation of old material with the introduction of new stories. Considering how many subplots Sex Education has to handle, I’d say they did a fair job.
As nice as it is to reconnect with some of my favorite characters, I do think the plotlines for this episode could have been handled better. The two largest subplots were the chlamydia outbreak and Otis’s masturbation, and both end without any real resolution. The show tells us the stories are wrapped up without giving any details on why or how. In doing so, they both let boys off the hook for their actions, which I found incredibly frustrating. Hopefully as the show continues, it finds its rhythm again.
All episodes of Sex Education are available for streaming on Netflix.