The Inconsistent Sexual Ethics of Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’

High school-centered media is always incredibly tricky to get right. It’s a time in our lives when we are incredibly vulnerable, as we come into ourselves socially, professionally, and sexually. So it makes sense that it’s such a popular genre. People want to see their experience mirrored, in a relatable fashion, on screen. So many films and television shows seem to miss the mark when it comes to this time period, especially when it comes to sexual exploration. Many sexualize teenagers to an uncomfortable degree, others disregard issues of consent and respect outright, and many works seem to make a joke out of a character’s understandable inexperience around sex. It is no exaggeration to say that this odd, uncomfortable depiction of sex can be harmful, especially to the developing young adults consuming this type of media.

So, as we near the end of the first month of 2019, we clearly have an evolved sense of sexual respect. We are coming off of a year where much popular conversation surrounded sex and respect, or lack thereof. So clearly we should have art that reflects our new, mature sensitivities around sex. We should hope so, at least.

A lot of the discourse around the recently released Netflix original miniseries Sex Education has been about just this: the show’s treatment of sex. Rightfully so, as the show makes no illusion that it has something to say about sex in high school, as its title would suggest.

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‘Sharp Objects’ Recap: Falling

*Spoilers Ahead*

As the end of Sharp Objects approaches, I keep thinking there’s no way this show could get any more upsetting, raw, and tense. And each week, I’m proven wrong. In the penultimate episode to HBO’s limited series, the pain, cruelty, and suffering of each character seems to reach its peak.

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The episode begins with a surprisingly tender moment as Adora tries to take care of Camille after her night of partying with Amma. However, Camille is quick to reject such attention, pushing her away and refusing medicine from a rather large blue bottle. As Camille is leaving the house, she checks on a hungover Amma, who says, “You know what my favorite part of getting wasted is? Mama takes care of me after.” She also reveals that John is about to be arrested for the murders of Anne and Natalie. Camille rushes to John’s girlfriend’s house, while Richard, on the other hand, does his own investigation: This time, it’s into the death of Marian Crellin. As he speaks to nurses and reads old medical records, it becomes increasingly clear that Adora suffers from Munchausen by proxy, a disorder where a caretaker makes someone sick on purpose. There are not only records for Marian, but for Amma’s various hospitalizations. This is juxtaposed with Amma lying sick in bed, sweating, puking, trying to escape her mother’s medication.

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‘Sharp Objects’ Recap: Cherry

As Sharp Objects approaches its final episode, the tension, anxiety, and apprehension is becoming unbearable in a wonderfully captivating way. In episode six, “Cherry”, we learn that underneath the shiny and luscious outside of Wind Gap is a deep, dark pit. This episode confronts the shiny facade of Wind Gap’s domestic life and the angst that lies just beneath the surface.

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Episode six opens on three different groups waking up: Camille and Richard, Alan, and Chief Vickery. The two in particular that are in such stark contrast to one another are Alan and Chief Vickery. Alan wakes up on a pullout couch, where Adora has sequestered him. He starts his day alone, glimpsing a pile of vintage porn on the table. Alan is a symbol for hidden household dysfunction; while his wife and home appear perfect, he is pushed to another floor, to a bed that isn’t truly his. Then there is Vickery, who’s waking up sequence is almost exactly the same as in episode four. He has a set routine and a wife that cares for him. His unchanging routine is a breath of stability in a time of utter chaos. It’s a small sequence of events, but it speaks volumes about what happens behind closed doors despite the shiny airs put on to impress others.

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