In spite of the fact that Netflix confirmed that sparky comedy-drama Sex Education would get a fourth season within days of the debut of its third back in September 2021, it looks like we’ll be waiting a while for it to arrive.
Production on the series isn’t due to begin until next month, meaning that even if filming is super speedy, there is no chance the show’s fourth run will air in 2022 and we’re most likely looking at the back end of 2023 before we’ll get a chance to watch it.
The show is a huge success now, but when Netflix first launched Sex Education in the very early days of 2019, early reactions were a little confused. It was a comedy-drama, set in a very American-feeling high school with an almost exclusively British cast. Part bawdy comedy, part tender coming-of-age saga, it seemed like it might fall between two stools. It didn’t.
Sex Education primarily follows Otis Milburn, a bookish, quiet student at Moordale Secondary School. When we’re first introduced to Otis, he is ambivalent about sex, in part because his single mother Jean is a sex therapist and extremely open about it at home. However, after a couple of chance encounters, he and fellow student Maeve discover there is money, and, more importantly, kudos, in using the expertise Otis has learned from his mother to pass on to the other students.
Asa Butterfield stars as Otis, with Gillian Anderson playing Jean and Emma Mackey portraying Maeve. Like teen drama Skins before it, the show has put rocket fuel under the careers of so many of its stars. Butterfield is now a bona fide leading man, Ncuti Gatwa, who plays Eric, Otis’ best pal, is the new Doctor Who, while Mackey is about to play Emily Bronte for Warner Brothers and has a key role in the new Barbie movie. Perhaps that explains why the show has taken so long to get its cast together for a fourth season.
With that in mind, to help you pass the time until the fourth season of Sex Education arrives, we thought we’d have a think and recommend seven shows that manage to harness the power of youthful lust and use it to get laughs, heartfelt moments and real drama.
Awkward walked so Sex Education could run when it debuted on MTV back in 2011.
The show followed Ashley Rickards' Jenna Hamilton, who we first meet after two big events. Firstly, she has finally managed to bag her crush, Matty McKibben, in a heated tryst at summer camp, but he then reveals he won't be seen with her as soon as they get back to high school. Secondly, after a freak accident in her bathroom, which is mistaken for a suicide attempt, she becomes notorious among her fellow students.
We follow Jenna as she tries to navigate these choppy waters, all the while maintaining a blog to help her figure it out.
It's highly-strung, dark at times, but very, very funny and highly addictive, you'll work your way through all five seasons in no time at all on Paramount Plus.
Where to watch: Paramount Plus (Worldwide)
If you thought Sex Education offered a dark look at teenage life, it is a sunny afternoon picnic in comparison to HBO's Euphoria.
The show, which is run by Sam Levinson, is based on the Israeli series of the same name and follows a group of high school students as they try to navigate their messy lives, battling with identity, trauma, drugs, friendships, love, and sex along the way.
Largely, we follow Zendaya’s Rue, who we first meet when she's fresh out of rehab and struggling to readjust to her life and friendships. We’re slowly introduced to her circle of friends and the intertwining of their lives, which is constantly played out in a state of high drama.
The explicit nature of the show, where nothing is truly off-limits, might be a bit much for some people, but the writing is terrific and the performances, particularly Zendaya and rising star Hunter Schafer, are brilliant. Young parents will find it wince-inducing and utterly compelling.
Where to watch: HBO Max (US), NOW (UK)
Skins, despite being almost a decade in the rear-view mirror, remains a cornerstone of shows fuelled by the terrible decisions teenagers make.
The show, which launched the careers of Nicholas Hoult, Daniel Kaluuya, Dev Patel, and Kaya Scodelario, follows the lives of a group of Bristol teenagers as they make their way through college.
Every Skins storyline felt like punching a bruise, depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, sexual discovery, promiscuity, substance abuse, death, and bullying, it covered them all with no punches pulled. British tabloids were horrified with the show’s explicit depiction of these issues, but audiences loved it, so much so it ran for six seasons, with the cast rebooting itself every two years.
Darker than Sex Education, more reserved than Euphoria, Skins' power is still there almost 10 years on.
Where to watch: Hulu (US), 4OD (UK)
Sadly, this 2018 effort only lasted one season before Netflix canceled it, which was a shame, as the show’s first season seemed like it was building towards something special.
Before she scored a key role in Euphoria, Sydney Sweeney was part of the ensemble cast for Everything Sucks!, a high-school drama set in the town of Boring in Oregon, which, unbelievably, is a real place.
We follow a group of kids who populate both the drama club and the audio-visual club, a long way from the jocks and cheerleaders. Deciding to team up to make a movie together, the group's lives then become entangled and lives, loves, hopes, dreams, issues and hang-ups are all played out.
A huge shame it only lasted a season, but still well worth revisiting for a Sex Education fix.
Where to watch: Netflix (Worldwide)
Beginning life as the wonderfully titled Scrotal Recall, Lovesick was originally on Channel 4 before transitioning to a Netflix original.
Starring Johnny Flynn, The Good Doctor's Antonia Thomas, and I Hate Suzie's Daniel Ings, the show was largely funneled through Flynn's Dylan, who is diagnosed with chlamydia and is then forced to contact all of his previous sexual partners to inform them of his diagnosis. Ings and Thomas play his flatmates who accompany him every step of the way.
Charming, a bit grotty at times, but warm-hearted and led by the charismatic Flynn, this doesn't have Sex Education's slickness and the cast are a little older, but it has the same vibrancy and openness with its subject matter. There are three excellent seasons to take it, should you want to.
Where to watch: Netflix (Worldwide)
One of the finest comedies of the last 20 years Feel Good is an absolute must-watch and fits perfectly alongside Sex Education in its delicate handling of complex issues and bravery in doing so.
The brainchild of Canadian comedian Mae Martin, the show is semi-autobiographical and follows Martin and their fledgling relationship with Charlotte Ritchie's George. Martin has struggled with drugs and alcohol in the past and her struggle to maintain sobriety is nakedly played out, along with George's reluctance to make their relationship public among her friends.
The show has a remarkable ability to make you laugh uproariously one minute and then deliver a gut punch that will totally floor you. Totally unmissable.
Where to watch: Netflix (Worldwide)
We Are Who We Are
Luca Guadagnino, the man behind Call Me By Your Name and A Bigger Splash, was recruited by HBO in 2020 for this coming-of-age drama, which follows Caitlin and Fraser, two American teenagers who live on a fictional U.S. military base in Chioggia, Italy.
The show plays out with the pair exploring friendship, love, and identity, all while in the strange atmosphere of a military base in the middle of Italy.
Chloë Sevigny, Jack Dylan Grazer, Alice Braga, Jordan Kristine Seamón, Spence Moore II, and Kid Cudi star, in the drama, which Guadagnino co-wrote as well as directed all eight episodes.
As with Call Me By Your Name and A Bigger Splash, the show is stylish and gentle in pace but packed with drama and heart, just like Sex Education.
Where to watch: HBO Max (US), BBC iPlayer (UK)
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