From Britain to Netflix with love — 'Sex Education'
NEW YORK — Among the bumper crop of original series debuting this month on Netflix is one that's both a time warp and a trans-Atlantic hug. It's called "Sex Education" and it's like a classic John Hughes high school comedy bloomed in the United Kingdom.
"It's very much a contemporary British love letter to American high school films," says series star Gillian Anderson of "The X-Files" fame.
In this quirky and refreshing series created and written by Laurie Nunn, Anderson and Asa Butterfield of Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" play mother and son, each exploring the contemporary sexual landscape.
The eight episodes of the first season were shot mostly in southeast Wales. And while the actors have English accents, they throw around American footballs on campus, wear letter jackets and plan for prom. The soundtrack is rich in 1980s songs, from The Smiths to Billy Idol.
"It is this kind of Nowheresville," said Butterfield. "It has kind of got a timeless vibe to it which I think really helped make the show stand out."
Butterfield plays a smart but socially awkward 16-year-old student who has had little sexual experience, despite living with his sex therapist mom.
He teams up with a smart-bad girl to create an underground sex therapy clinic, leaning on the knowledge he's absorbed over the years. There's plenty of nudity and blunt examination of everything from same-sex love, abortion and wet dreams.
Anderson plays blunt single mom Jean, whose home is filled with sex manuals and toys. She's so open about the topic that she has no problem snooping around her son's bedroom or asking embarrassing questions about his sexuality while they're watching a movie.
Anderson said she was attracted to a show that explored the common issues associated with puberty, in all its joy and messiness. She noted that the series comes at a time when society is embracing the concept of everyone being who they are.
"Then how about addressing it to the best of our ability by putting it out there as unflinchingly and honestly as possible? And with humor, which is always the best way and not taking oneself too seriously or itself too seriously," she said.
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