After the hilarious but poignant and relevant first season of Sex Education last year, it’s no surprise that a second season was made, and after finishing it in less than 24 hours I had never felt quite so represented.
The vivid colours and Welsh landscape shots make Sex Education seem almost innocuous to start with, but this show is home to diversity and comical reality, the type that makes shame melt away with the realisation that you’re not alone. I loved the first season, and I was so excited about some new episodes. I love the characters, I love the storylines, I love the slightly weird combo of American and English school culture.
But being asexual, I always thought that I would be alone in not having representation on the show. It didn’t upset me as such – I’ve been misrepresented and/or missing from the media for as long as I remember. I didn’t even know the term existed until I was 14, when I was beginning to feel like a misfit (which I am, in several ways, but that’s not the point). I never would have had the realisation if it wasn’t for Tumblr, which seemed to be the age-old site for discovering who you were back when I was an early teenager.
But it shouldn’t have to be. Asexuality is represented more through more mainstream social media like Twitter and Instagram now, including through hashtags such as #ThisIsWhatAsexualityLooksLike, but traditional media still severely misses the mark.
So when Florence turned up in the fourth episode, I felt a sense of hope and fear all in the same moment, because what little asexual representation I’ve seen over the years has been completely inaccurate. I assumed Otis and his mum would shrug her off and just tell her she wasn’t ready, that she hasn’t met the right person yet, that she was just a late developer. Most of us have heard it all. When she spoke to Otis, I rolled my eyes a bit – I was right.
But what was more important was when she spoke to Jean. When Florence softly said she felt broken, I was immediately transported back to 2014. This was a phrase that I said over and over again until I scrolled upon that random blog post. Even more importantly, Jean explained it without probing her like a science experiment or acting like Florence was some sort of strange phenomenon. The mention that some of us still want romantic relationships nearly had me in tears. Then, I could look at Otis’ reaction and see it was on purpose to display what we typically get told.
I can’t think of many shows more current to young people that so many are actually watching than Sex Education, and if one single teenager (or adult, because the lack of representation means many don’t know of it till they are much older) discovers that they aren’t broken, that they don’t have to force themselves to feel what they don’t, then that will be enough for me. And aside from that – the education it may provide to everyone else, the potential for tolerance and knowledge, is huge. I am so grateful.
In the final episode of the season, Florence says that learning to accept herself has changed her life. I can attest how true that statement is, and I only wish that I had this show when I was still struggling to understand myself, because the realisation wasn’t the end of my journey.
This season also had some great representation of trauma and anxiety that I really appreciated, as well as a disabled character (played by a disabled actor!). There aren’t many marks that Sex Education misses, and I’m already impatiently waiting for another season.