One of the main reasons why the first season was such a success is because of the novelty of the premise of the show. This is a show made for the millenials and the generations after them as they have grown up in a more liberal and open minded environment than their parents grew up in. This is also why the TV show Friends became a spectacular hit in the 90s even though the comedy itself was more or less average. We connect with shows that present our ideas and worldview that so far have been restricted to only chats in coffee-hangout places, amongst our friends. Season 2 of Sex Education tries to replicate those ideas and worldview but this time the effort seems dragged and many times unrealistic.
The humour feels forced at many places with stereotyped and clichéd characters and dialogues like the grumpy principal, the flamboyant gay kid, the douchebag jocks, etc. It also wades into American Pie territory of comedy at times with its brand of ribaldry humour that can be funny but doesn’t seem to fit with the overall theme of the show of awkward teenagers being ignorant about sex.
The show is quite obviously made for the American audience even though the setting is in the UK. British humour is more subtle and cringe-worthy and sardonic and almost always has no background music. Sex Education on the other hand has loud characters who are over expressive and get themselves into ridiculous situations which are hallmarks of many American sitcoms. There are several times one would think ‘No way that sort of thing happens in a real school or no way can anyone say this in a real life situation’. Sometimes over the top comedy works when the characters are interesting but there are really not many such characters in Sex Education.
Having said all that, season 2 has some genuinely heartfelt moments. Sex Education derives its strength from being incredibly woke and liberal. It handles varying themes like consent, different types of sexuality, abortion, contraceptives, female orgasm in a mature, accepting and non-judgemental way. These are areas that no previous shows have dared to go into. It is a departure from the old school TV of heterosexual single family home dramas where diversity was only limited to an African-American character. Is Sex Education too diverse? Perhaps, yes but again there is no problem with that because that what is the show intends to do. This is a show that is completely a product of its times, i.e., the Internet age which allowed people of all kinds of hues to express themselves and claim their own space.
The truly best moments of Season 2 involved the peripheral storylines where the acting was terrific like Amy’s struggle to get on the bus where she was assaulted or Adam trying to rid himself of guilt and shame of coming out as gay. The main story of the two protagonists is not interesting enough to get invested into and I hope they deal more with unconventional subjects with the same depth of awareness and maturity.