‘Sex Education’ Schooled Us About A Whole Lot More Than Just Sex

When we first heard about Sex Education, we thought it might be a show featuring beautiful high school kids acting unrealistically sexy for their age, or perhaps a comedy with gross-out sex humor. But after watching the whole thing (again and again and again), we are happy to say that we couldn’t be more wrong!

Well, the characters are lovely, yes, but they are realistic and grounded. And while sex jokes are present, they are actually quite funny. The biggest surprise? The show got us reaching for tissues for an entirely different reason. Because Sex Education, one of Netflix’s best offerings of late, is a series with a lot of heart.

And speaking of heart, Sex Education taught us a thing or two about relationships and heartbreaks, too. Read on for all the lessons we learned about the different types of heartbreaks — be it with your family, best friend, or special someone. Oh, and needless to say, SPOILER ALERT.

1. Friendship heartbreak

I think we all collectively agree that after episode 5, Eric deserves better. Oftentimes, when we get into arguments with our best friends, it’s more or less a misunderstanding. But because of how close we are with our besties, we also know what will hurt them most. We say things we don’t mean and our words hit deeper when we’re mad. Fighting with our best friends may honestly be the most painful heartbreak because we trust them more than we trust anyone else.

What did we learn from Otis and Eric? Say sorry.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your fault; if you choose to get in a fight with someone you care about, prepare to apologize. After all, fights usually result in all parties saying hurtful things to one another. Whether it’s a sweet gesture (like Asa Butterfield’s Otis’s makeup present for Emma Mackey’s Maeve) or with good old words (such as Otis’s tears- and, at the same time, grin-inducing apology for his best friend Eric, played by Ncuti Gatwa) — it doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you mean it.

Another friendship heartbreak in episode 5 was Ruby and Olivia, the ‘mean girls’ of Sex Education

Sure, Ruby’s (Mimi Keene) over-criticism of Olivia (Simone Ashley) led to one of Sex Education’s most memorable and memefied scenes, but as it is in real relationships, anyone who’s overly criticized eventually feels insecure and unappreciated. Make the special people (or even mere acquaintances and strangers!) in your life feel good about themselves by focusing on what makes them great. Admittedly though, sometimes, people need a nudge toward the right direction. So if you really must point out a potentially growth-stunting quality, go do it. Just do not be mean about it.

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2. Family heartbreak

Nobody has a perfect family. All of us, at some point, had issues with our parents. While we may have different heartbreak experiences with our own family which significantly affected how we grew up, there are things we learned from Sex Education that we can learn in dealing with our parents.

Tell the truth.

If Otis had only been honest with his sex therapist mom, played brilliantly by Gillian Anderson, and if Dr. Jean Milburn hadn’t secretly written a book about her teenage son’s difficulty with masturbation, these two wouldn’t have been in that big fight. (Though we’re chalking up Otis’s refusal to talk things over with his mother to his being a teenager. )

Do not bring up past mistakes.

Adam Groff (Connor Swindells) did not stand a chance, did he? His dad, played by Alistair Petrie, never wasted an opportunity to remind him about the many ways he had screwed up. Repeatedly pointing out to someone who’s wronged us that they hurt us is like telling them that they will never change for the better, no matter how hard they try. Forgiving someone comes with trusting them that they will not hurt us again.

At the end of the day, we long for a family, even if it isn’t perfect

Maeve’s home life was by far one of the saddest arcs in Sex Education. With her parents not around and a brother who abandoned her, she became all alone. But beneath her cold-hearted persona was a mere teenage girl, longing for the love of her family–especially her mom’s.

Same with Eric’s home life, his relationship with his whole family was complicated. Growing up gay in a religious household is suffocating, but it was clear that Eric’s dad only had good intentions. He didn’t want his son to get hurt in the same way that Eric just wanted to be himself. Eric felt like he was going to hurt either way, but his family’s acceptance was a big relief in his heart.

3. Unrequited love

Sometimes, it’s just a case of the right person, but wrong timing

Otis and Maeve’s relationship felt like a rollercoaster. One moment, they were up high and the next second, it was going on a downward slope. By the end of season one, you’ll have your eyes brimming with tears and hoping that just for once, Maeve finally has something good going on in her miserable life. Otis’ speech about unrequited love during the prom scene tugged at the heartstrings. Maeve certainly didn’t owe Otis her affection and Otis accepted that. But at the end of season one, we see Maeve come to her senses, but she was just a few seconds too late.

Maeve and Jackson’s relationship, however, is straight out of a teen fiction love story, but it seems that they weren’t really a match.

Jackson Marchetti, played by Kedar Williams-Stirling, had it pretty tough by the end of season one. When you realize that someone you’ve fallen head-over-heels for doesn’t love you back, it takes time for you to be able to accept and move on. But Jackson accepted it like the good man that he is and even tried to save Maeve from getting expelled despite his obvious heartbreak.

Sex Education is now streaming on Netflix.