Readers Write In #134: Why we need more shows like ‘Sex Education’ in India

Posted on January 22, 2020


(by Sai Sagar)

In a recent discussion with a friend, the netflix series Sex Education came up. He remarked that I might as well be acquainted with the education part, given that the first half of the title will always elude me. The joke here is on both of us. Firstly one doesn’t “GET” Sex unless and until he is Chintu Thyagi from Pati Patni aur woh and secondly we as a society kind of failed in that education part, because we take sex as something that comes with the license of a relationship or a marriage. In times when sexual skills and prowess in bed are championing the cause of masculinity ( toxic?) and with the influence of movies which portray men sleeping around with 350 women (safety ke liye I made it a round figure) and boast about doing it 545 times Shows like this are eye openers for the youth.

Sex education is a British teen comedy drama which follows the story of a socially awkward teenager Otis and how he becomes the Sex Guru of his school, helps them deal with their sex problems. Now where does he get his interest and skills from? His Mom Dr.Milburn is a sex therapist herself. Why does this show which has no relation to India geographically and culturally still popular among the Indians? It is because of our love for the forbidden. Sex has always been a taboo and remains so in our country. One can almost imagine the millennials watching this series sitting somewhere under the stairs hiding from the world, completely immersed, wishing that they had a high school life like this where beautiful people wear colorful dresses and dance around; all they do is gossip, party and have sex. Somewhere this show is fulfilling the fantasy life they want to live and also satisfying their curiosity  about the things they want to know about but never do, openly.

The first season was breezy without much of a commentary; it was just our acquaintance with the subject. In the second season though, we progress into the problems and the lives of these teenagers. Issues like peer pressure, heart breaks, Intimacy and comfort are addressed in a much deeper level. The students get paranoid about an STD and they think that it spreads from the air they breathe, that’s the level of knowledge even their curriculum offers. This paranoid reaction of theirs simply shows that contradictory to what we think even the westerners consider this a taboo and topics like these are frowned upon when discussed in public. One thing the Brits gave all the colonized nations are a shared sense of prudishness.

Then comes Dr.Milburn to the rescue of the students and keeps the door open for them to talk about the issues they face. People laugh at her, mock her and stay silent for a few days; this shows the hypocritical attitude we have towards things. But finally when they are convinced and comforted by her and she manages to convince the school that it will be purely done for academic purposes the students get ready to start a dialogue on this. We can clearly see the changes in the lives of the students in the show. You may argue that it is a fictional story and is only for developed countries but, there is a particular scene which shows assault on a public transport and the trauma this teenager goes through and the way her friends help her deal with it. Do you think things like these are spoken about openly in our country, even though they happen a lot? This is why shows like this are necessary to start a dialogue on topics like this.

It also shows the parents of these kids battling through midlife crisis and having intimacy issues. This serves as something to show that even they are as vulnerable as the teens to the heart breaks and issues with relationships. At the same time this show also talks about what’s wrong with our relationships and the way we look at them. It touches upon the same-sex relationships and unlike season one they are not sidelined this time. The way one should deal with coming out or the homophobia of people and how the series deals with it is commendable. With the realistic portrayal of the same sex relationship and the tension and trauma people go through before getting into them needs to be talked about in order to bring acceptance to these relationships and change the way they are perceived in our society.

What we get in our Indian films or shows is only the Sex part of it and not the education. It doesn’t want to deliver a message, talk about an issue or help us deal with difficulties of our life. They simply portray this because it sells. I am not saying this show doesn’t use the same commercial concept, it just merely doesn’t add purposeless nudity or scenes to make us too comfortable or vice-versa. This show clearly brings its audience out of their comfort zones, breaks down the myths and addresses many sensitive issues, delivered under the back drop of a great story on friendship and solidarity. If you haven’t watched this I would recommend you to watch Sex Education right now, because you can’t have a dialogue about either of them in our country. If you think this is not your cup of tea then you can happily go back to watching gandi baat.