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Film and TV

Sex Education

Netflix

Netflix’s Sex Education was never exactly chaste, says Alan Sepinwall in Rolling Stone. In the first series, Otis (Asa Butterfield) and class rebel Maeve (Emma Mackey) ran “bootleg sex therapy” clinics to help their classmates deal with problems their teachers didn’t want to discuss. Otis’s mum, the sex-positive sex therapist Jean (Gillian Anderson), was equally incorrigible. Now, in series three, new head teacher Hope (Jemima Kirke from Girls) arrives as a “more glamorous Dolores Umbridge” to bring behaviour at what has become known as the “sex school” in line.  

That doesn’t work out, says Phoebe Luckhurst in the Evening Standard. There is “slurping and sucking in suburban homes; lascivious tongues in teenage bedrooms”. But writer Laurie Nunn’s storytelling is more ambitious and a little darker this time around. Parents cause misery and relationships involve heartbreak and cruelty. Thank heavens for mishaps with strawberry condoms to lighten the tone. It’s still the series you wish you’d had when you were a teenager, “muddling through and just trying to be ‘normal’”. Sometimes – just for an hour or so – “it makes you wish you still wish you were”.

Series three of Sex Education is on Netflix. Watch a trailer here.

You may have missed… The Morning Show

Apple

The return of The Morning Show is “like watching an Aaron Sorkin set at Good Morning Britain”, says Camilla Long in The Sunday Times. Famous news anchor and “feminist icon” Alex (Jennifer Aniston) and her arch nemesis Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) jostled for supremacy throughout the first series. Now a sex scandal means Alex has abandoned television, but the slick and heartless exec Cory (Billy Crudup) wants the nation’s favourite “hot messes” back together on screen. I didn’t get the show initially. Why is it so fiendishly complicated? “You need a PhD in light entertainment simply to understand the significance of Reese Witherspoon’s hair colour.” But its intensity is growing on me.

Don’t expect it ever to make sense, says Sophie Gilbert in The Atlantic. Enjoy it for what it is: “one of the most batshit-expensive soap operas ever made”. Rewritten in the wake of #MeToo to incorporate storylines about sexual harassment in network television, Apple TV+’s flagship drama couldn’t quite balance its commitment to serious plot points with “its extravagant impulses towards musical numbers and Machiavellian speechifying”. Series two is even stranger and sillier. But at a reported (and disputed) $15m-an-episode price tag, who cares? Ink-dark dramas in which Oscar winners suck wearily on vape pens are a dime a dozen. Apple has given us a rare gift: “a feast of high camp”.

Series two of The Morning Show is on Apple TV+. Watch a trailer here.