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What the Health!?

Since its creation in 1997, Netflix has become an integral part of our generation as a wide spread passtime. Recently, Netflix has graced our screens with many new shows and movies, some of them with a very interesting theme: sex. The topic of teen sex in media is often seen as taboo, raising the question of one’s morals. When these topics and actions are applied to an arguably young demographic, viewers may experience discomfort with such transparent truths: teens have sex.

One of the newest shows, the raunchy British comedy, Sex Education explores just this. Sex Education, unlike many of the idealized and effortless portrayals of teen love, captures the bumbling, awkward and uncomfortable trials and tribulations of sex in high school. The core of the show is its acceptance that all people, young and old alike are sexual beings. The show is centered around the main character Otis Milburn, an utterly inexperienced and terrified teen who has yet to undergo any sexual awakening. His mother, Jean, is quite the opposite, and spends her days as a sex therapist with a comically agonizing lack of boundaries with her son. Otis’s fears of his changing body are magnified by living in a house full of erotic doodads and phallic trinkets around every corner with his intrusive, but well meaning, mother. Later in the pilot episode, we meet Maeve, the resident “skank” of Moordale High. When Maeve witnesses Otis help a classmate with a certain Viagra induced issue, she approaches him about starting a sex therapy business themselves. Together, with Maeve’s knack for business and Otis’s odd but specific skill set, the two help the sexually challenged adolescents of their school navigate the difficulties and experimentation of young love.

Throughout the show, numerous issues and themes are explored: familial relationships, sexuality, economic status, social pressure, abortion, and substance use are all masterfully tied up into a single season bound to make you laugh, cry and feel just about everything in between. And yes, there is a lot of sex. But how much education on sex do we really receive from watching such a show?

It’s an ironic contrast to watch as the characters struggle to navigate entering the world as sexual beings learning from each other and their own mishaps while we as Berkley High School (BHS) students are gifted with sex education resources at our fingertips. Sexual Health Information from Teens (SHIFT) in a sense is BHS’s very own Otis Milburn. Now maybe that’s a stretch, for our member’s aren’t offering sex therapy. However, they are available peers educated on safe and healthy sexual and reproductive topics that are clearly so apparent an entire Netflix show has been attributed around the idea. Although the show is more of an entertaining teen drama than an actual sexual health resource, a mutual goal of SHIFT and the BHS Health Center’s reproductive sexual health services is accomplished through the show. This is that the show is serving as a tool to break the stigma around teens and sex and clearly demonstrate that education is not only lacking but also necessary. Sex Education is a show filled with quirky, lovable, characters, similar to us, all not only trying to figure out life itself but also navigate the dreaded birds and the bees.