Sex Education’s Overall Aesthetic Has Polarized Viewers

Image Source: IMDb

For those who haven’t heard of the popular Netflix show, Sex Education, the program follows Otis Milburn, a student who starts a discreet sex therapy clinic at his high school with the help of his peer, Maeve Wiley. When it premiered on January 11, 2019, the show was met with rave reviews from critics and the general population. People praised the project for its well-written and lovable characters, its engaging storylines that subverted tropes, and the sensitive way in which topics like sexual health were tackled. However, one detail garnered conflicting opinions: the overall aesthetic.  

While Sex Education is set in the fictional English town of Moordale, there are multiple elements of the high school—known as the sixth form in the project and in the UK— that reflect aspects found in American schools. One example is that the characters are not required to wear a uniform. Even though this choice allows the costume designers to better display each character’s personality, it does not showcase an accurate portrayal of the English dress code. Another comment made by many is that the cafeteria in Moordale Secondary School—which, in England, is called a canteen— has multiple out-of-place elements. The students use trays to carry their food, there are posters supporting their sports teams, and the layout looks like a lunchroom you’d find in a United States high school. There are also smaller characteristics that add to this blended British-American aesthetic, including letterman jackets worn by soccer players, lockers, and the occasional American football being thrown around.  

Executives and actors who are a part of the show have spoken out about this purposeful mix of cultural elements. This combination of British and American high school features was incorporated into the program in order to create an atmosphere Americans and British people could see themselves in. Plus, executive producer Ben Taylor noted in an interview with GQ he was inspired by John Hughes’ films from the 1980s, and the writing team wanted to recreate some of those same feelings of fun and positivity.  

Personally, I love the look of Sex Education. When watching the show, I enjoyed seeing components like those involved in my high school experience and facets that connect to those who attended an English secondary school. Now, I will acknowledge that my favoring of this style is most likely because I am from America, therefore I can see why British people were bothered by the addition of elements that wouldn’t be found in their schools. Regardless, I still think it elevates the show and makes it more engaging for viewers. Since this debate is ongoing, if you haven’t already, check out the program for yourself and decide if it was the right choice.