Hiatus 04 — Sex Education, ruthless algorythms
Hello, today we are talking not just about Netflix Original series Sex Education, but more about Netflix itself and the lack of originality the platform brings today.
Intro: Netflix wants to be loved
Netflix is huge and just as any other content platform, they want to retain you forever.
A good example is how they change the artworks for the preview thumbnails. It depends on your gender, previously watched movies, geography, psychological type and so on.
Obviously, same things happen with original content Netflix create. They constantly try to keep it safe and appealing for key social demographic but yet “original”. Here are three major ways to do so:
- Genre tonal shift — love story can be a comedic or a tragic one with basically all the elements remaining . Character growth can be shown through gritty physical action or a coming of age drama. Look at American vandal, a true crime story observed from a comedic angle (or visa versa).
- Same start, different finish — Ozark is a great example. It starts as a direct Breaking bad rip-off but quickly evolves into something genuine.
- Trope mix-down — cherry pick things that worked fine before and put those in the melting pot of writers room.
As far as first two approaches can bring something powerful and unique, the third one is the most dull yet effective.
So let’s watch Sex education and see how Netflix management can ruin something great.
Could it be great?
Yes, for sure.
The plot is actually interesting.
A troubled boy raised by the sexologist starts his own amateur practice at school. What will , fucking, happen?
It’s intriguing, it can start a dialogue about amateur psychology, great mother and son dynamics are established.
Secondly it’s really well-directed. Creators took a lot of effort to make it as cinematic, clever and effective as possible.
This set piece for example is really good. Extras positioning and the camera angle make the place in front of Maeve the only free one. TV is not just a random piece of social commentary but also a plot device to bound Maeve and Sarah. The reception girl will empathize the power of Sarah's character. The clock is actually working, so we know Otis is hour and a half too early. Someone took care of it. Someone actually cared.
Acting is great either. The whole cast made a wonderful, believable and cozy world. Each character is empathetic. Leads are absolutely brilliant.
There are two flaws I can name.
Minor flaw: Songs
Music choices are not even predictable but mockingly literal.
So here Otis will try to masturbate and fight his sexual problems. Just, fucking, guess the song.
Yeah, it’s Dancing with myself by Billy Idol.
OK, now it’s time for Maeve’s anesthesia before the abortion. What song would you choose?
Right you are. It’s Asleep by the Smiths. And the song completely ruined the scene for me.
Major flaw: Netflix mash-up
It gets hilarious sometimes but it’s quite sad because “Sex ed” crew of exceptional professionals deserves more than a bunch of rip-offs from the previous Netflix project. But let’s go through the list.
Troubled dark haired pale nerdy character with the lack of social skills who rides a bicycle
brought to you by Stranger things and 13 reasons why
Love interest with own issues from a different social stratum who inspires the hero to change
brought to you by Love and 13 reasons why
Stupid yet likable prankster who loves to draw dicks
brought to you by American Vandal
Complicated social concepts simplified to fit the comedy format
brought to you by Good place
80’s aesthetics all over the place
brought to you by Stranger things, Glow, Black Mirror and loads of shows
Most predictable “retro” soundtracks
brought to you by Jonathan Byers himself
Schoolkids trying to understand their sexuality in an overstylized world
brought to you by Everything sucks
Main character saving the day by the power of words on the school dance
brought to you by 13 reasons why
Sex Education is not bad. It simply could get way better if the platform and the creators didn’t play that safe. And as far as I see the reception, critics and audience are going to encourage this totally corrupted approach. And that’s fucking sad.
See you around.