How Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’ Subverts Teen-Movie Tropes

Netflix' Sex Education
Netflix’ Sex Education

Late in the second season of Netflix’s Sex Education comes a scene familiar from multiple teen movies: the ritualistic dissemination of a person’s private notebook, weaponized to cause maximum chaos. You might remember this exact scenario from Mean Girls, when Regina George papered her high school with xeroxed pages of the same Burn Book she’d helped create, sparking a fracas of hysteria and recrimination. Or from the end of Cruel Intentions, when a journal is handed out in bound copies at Kathryn Merteuil’s brother’s funeral, sealing her downfall.

The setup is enough of a trope to feel hackneyed, until you realize how Sex Education is subverting it. The person doling out secrets in hope of causing chaos isn’t a teenage girl looking for revenge, but a middle-aged man grasping at the last vestiges of his waning power.

When Sex Education debuted early in 2019, it felt like a delightfully earnest (and anglicized) patchwork of teen classics: the raunch comedy of American Pie, the small-town romanticism of Stranger Things, and the British oddball kids of Skins and The End of the F***ing World, with the sweet sex-positivity of Big Mouth thrown in for good measure.

The show seems to exist in a parallel universe that’s both our own (there are cellphones and STI outbreaks and horny teenagers) and entirely alien (no one ever goes on social media, every store in the mall is a small business, the action takes place in an idyllic English community where it never, ever rains).

Source: How Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’ Subverts Teen-Movie Tropes – The Atlantic

Advertisements

Leave a Reply