The only guidance I ever received on affairs of sex, was a copy of Manwatching by Desmond Morris left on my bedside table, and the insistence from my three elder brothers that I should ask my mother why an octopus has eight testicles.
The rest was garnered from top-shelf magazines, dodgy films on Channel 4, and awkward conversations with my best friend, who fortunately was a girl.
Poor Mrs Beeley.
Let’s be honest, it wasn’t ideal, and the doctrine of the Roman Catholic church that it was either grubby or sinful really didn’t help.
My two elder children introduced my wife and me to the Netflix series Sex Education, and it will remain one of the best TV series I’ve ever watched. In essence, it’s a love story, or a series of love stories, but it weaves in myriad issues around sex (i.e. nooky), sexuality, STDs, pregnancy, disability, cancer, adoption, hormones, poverty, loss, adolescence… and so much more. It’s informative, relatable, well-researched, brilliantly written and acted (with a fantastic soundtrack), and completely gripping.
And yes, it’s graphic. But so is sex.
If you’re reading this and your eyes are popping out then you, yes you, need to watch it. Why? Because you are victim of a Victorian PR campaign.
Neolithic cave art, Greek and Roman art and literature, and many other ancient civilisations across the globe tackled sex very openly. Chaucer was graphic and even Shakespeare got quite racy, reading between the lines (or sheets?). But then the Victorians decided it was bad and stigmatised the whole thing… very successfully.
Good PR is about conveying strong messages, and one of the best ways to do that is through good storytelling. And that’s what Sex Education is. It’s brilliant storytelling, and the messages get through. Viewed as a PR campaign to change Victorian perceptions, it’s perfect.
My children were ‘officially’ too young to watch it, but they did, with their parents, and we loved it and learned from it in equal measure.
If you watch it, you will laugh, cry, wince, gasp… and definitely have a point of view: do let me know.