Top 6 Little-Known Facts About Sex Education
Sex Education is one of the best shows in the last two years. But there’s so much more stuff behind the scenes you still need to find out.
Which Stranger Things' references just true fans might have noticed in Sex Education? Is there something common between John Huges movies and this Netflix series? Which Maeve books you didn’t pay attention to? And did you know that this show is a total masterpiece when it comes to clothing? Let’s discover the most intriguing Sex Education hidden details and easter eggs together!
1. 80’s movies vs Sex Education
You’ve definitely noticed that Stranger Things and Sex Education have lots of similarities concerning visual style: from Missing posters to clothing and lighting. As it turns out this is not a coincidence at all!! Both shows were immensely inspired by John Hughes and his 80’s movies. So no doubt, that you’ll be surprised to see our scene to scene comparison from Sex Education and Hughes’s movies!
The most obvious reference in Sex Education season 2 was in episode seven when girls spend a couple of hours of detention in a school library which echoes the plot of the film Breakfast Club. Kids from totally different school gangs are forced to spend time together and finally bond in the end. Yep, the idea in both cases is basically the same. Sex Education director revealed that she took a lot of inspiration from Hughes’s Sixteen Candles as well.
Just like Samantha, Maeve is trapped between two boys: a nerdy Otis that’s obsessed with her and reminds us of Anthony Michael Hall’s character - Ted; While She is in love with Jack - one of the coolest kids in the hood, who is super handsome, romantic and dreams of having a loving girlfriend, just like Jake Ryan from 16 Candles. Plus, let’s not forget that it was Maeve’s birthday in season 2. It's kind of an obvious reference, don't you think?
One more reference comes from Pretty In Pink, where the main female character is in love with a cool guy that likes her back but keeps their relationship secret, while another guy is obviously obsessed with her but she does want to be with him. Sounds like the description of Sex Education season 1. Just look at Maeve's hair here: it literally is “pretty in pink”.
The most copycat scene in Sex Education comes from Ferris Bueller's Day Off - when the school director, who by the way talks exactly like Mr. Groff, is peeping in the window of Bueller’s home and slips while trying. Just like Mr. Groff did when he peeps at his wife.
2. Every book mentioned in the series
In the very first episode of season one, we spot Lily reading the Tank Girl comic book created by Jamie Hewlett, which tells the story of a girl that drives a tank which is also her home. She goes on missions and tries to stay alive in her misadventures with her mutant kangaroo boyfriend. That’s exactly what Lily would read, right?
In one of the episodes in season 1, we also see a bunch of book on Emma’s table, including Silas Marner by George Eliot, Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, Emma and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft and of course Maeve's favorite A Room of One's Own and A Passionate Apprentice by Virginia Woolf. That’s a decent introduction to feminism, right!
Plus, there’s a poster with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s quote “We should all be feminists”. It also looks like Maeve is a big fan of Bikini Kill as their poster is hanging by her bed but in real-life Emma Mackey prefers other music.
3. Where was it shot?
Sex Education is shot right in the heart of rural South Wales but we all have been wondering when it is set? I mean just take a look at their clothes! So alongside the modern phones and gadgets, the show’s aesthetic resembles the beloved 80’s in many ways and it turns out that that was intentional.
As the director Ben Taylor and the show’s writer Laurie Nunn explained, the 80’s inspired setting is an integral part of the narrative. Both Laurine and Ben are obsessed with American 80’s teen comedies and wanted to maintain the spirit of the films they were raised on. That is why they didn’t want to go for a Grange Hill style, and wanted something more quote/unquote “aspirational” and let the jocks play American football instead of regular football.
As Laurine said: "In my mind, Moordale is not a real place. Even though we shoot the show in Wales, it's very much a fictional place. We see it like a teenage utopia, and I like to think of it almost like a comic book world where these teenagers exist."
Moordale High is, in fact, a University. The creators of the show wanted a big pretty building that would match the mesmerizing vast landscape of Wales and not ruin the atmosphere. They picked Caerleon campus, which is one of the former buildings of the University of Wales in Newport.
The shots of Otis’s house from the outside actually belong to a facade of a BnB called The Chalet. Do you remember when Otis, his dad, and Eric went camping? Or basically any forest stroll that the characters took? Well, you’ve seen this forest more times than you can imagine!
It's the Forest of Dean and has featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, some episode of Doctor Who and now in Sex Education. The majestic contrast of natural green and blue creates this fantastic color scheme we love so much!
They have a whole team of designers and creative contractors that look at the designs every morning and build the actual parts of houses or any other locations they need. From making walls in a room to decorating Jean's working office.
4. Heartbreaking truth from Ncuti
And we’ve finally reached the unexpected revelation from Ncuti Gatwa. Ncuti is already 27 - 10 years older than his on-screen protege and yet the role of Eric Effiong was his first major success.
Turns out that before Ncuti was cast for the series, he was almost homeless. He moved from Scotland to London when he was 21 and ended up working at the Globe Theatre, doing lots of work at the Globe Theatre. As he said: “I was constantly working but I still found it impossible to survive in London. Because it was so expensive”. Like many other starting actors, Ncuti had to pay for food, his rent, bills, travels and on days off he had to go to auditions.
As Ncuti opened up: “So for five months before Sex Education, I was couch-surfing among all my friends. I didn’t have a home. I was homeless. The only thing stopping me from being on the streets was the fact I had friends. But you can use up that goodwill. Or you feel scared to ask people for help. Your pride kicks in.”
Turns out that for his audition for Sex Education he had to borrow 10 quid so he could top up his Oyster card. And that 10 pounds kindly lended to him by a friend changed Ncuti’s life for good!!!
Ncuti recalls the days when he wasn’t sure where he was going to end up at, saying: “I was thinking it was so mad, because if someone was to see me on the street – on my way to temping at Harrods in my trench coat and brogues – because you have to be so well-polished and look the part – they would never believe I was about to spend two hours on the phone to people trying to find where I could sleep that night.”
Now Ncuti has agreed to become an ambassador for the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, so he now can make a difference for kids in need like he once was himself.
5. Fashion Aesthetics
Have you ever thought that absolutely every outfit that features in a frame is deliberately thought out? In a Netflix short-doc about making the series, Crowd Costume Supervisor explained that he has to supervise over 1500 outfits on set every day. Every assistant character on the set has to be dressed properly, matching the colorful palette of the main characters’ outfits.
But the ultimate fashion icon on the show is of course Eric. Eric outfits are also deliberately thought out by costume designers, but Ncuti has his own fabulous sense of style. When Ncuti received his role, he rushed to the department store and got a whole line of fancy makeup. He was sure he had to learn how to do makeup himself. Some nice method acting we've got there!
In the Netflix fashion countdown, Ncuti revealed some outfits that best describe Eric’s emotional journey on the show. On the first day of school, all of Eric’s worries resulted into an ill-buttoned shirt that he tried to cover up by inventing a new fashion trend - the “uncore”, which of course doesn’t exist. It’s an important moment that reflects Eric’s insecurities which are later replaced with new immense confidence.
His second season blue and yellow contrasting scarf that he wears to impress a newcomer from France is a reference to one of the world’s famous French attributes - ethereal scarves. On top of that, Ncuti is Rwandan and wanted to embrace the culture in Kigali just last year, so he was very excited that his Prom outfit referenced his own African heritage. He was absolutely thrilled to stand on a set of the show in a fabulous African doek and fascinating glitter makeup.
Lili’s flamboyant outfits also express how deeply she’s absorbed in the search of her personality. She has too many fancy pieces that do not really match. Lily wants bits of everything because she’s yet to find out what exactly she wants.
6. Was thought to be a flop
In her interview with Red, the show’s writer Laurine Nunn revealed that she was “convinced the show was going to a be a big flop”. Of course, she was exaggerating, no one set for failure would write a show and screen it. But Nunn was very afraid that the audience wouldn’t think the idea was good enough to give it a first view.
As she said: 'In the lead up to its release, I had this feeling that it wasn't going to go down well. The hook of it is so unusual – the idea of this kid giving out sex advice in a toilet cubicle – so I didn't know if people would take the leap of faith that it needed. But it was nicer, in a way, to be surprised.'
40 million subscribers watched the show in the first month proving how wrong she was doubting her talent.