Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, and Ncuti Gatwa spoke to MEGA Man about the Three T’s of Netflix’ Sex Education Season 2: trust, talking, and truth.
In the second season of the Netflix dramedy, Sex Education, Asa Butterfield returns to play Otis Milburn, a sexually-repressed teenager who finally discovers the wonders of his male genitalia… that’s right, Otis can finally masturbate.
As he learns the ropes of being in his first relationship, getting back into the sex clinic with Maeve Wiley, and dealing with his sex therapist mom, expect that there will be no short of drama, laughs, and you guessed it, sex, in this latest season.
It takes a stellar actor to nail a performance for a character as raw and vulnerable as Otis Milburn. From masturbating on-screen to talking about a chlamydia outbreak, only a confident guy like Asa Butterfield can play such an awkward role.
In an early October morning in London, Asa was having tea while watching his two kittens run around his flat. Asa answers the phone for an interview with MEGA Man and begins by telling us the things to expect from his character on Season 2.
“Now that he’s got a girlfriend, it’s opened up this whole world for him and if you can imagine, 16 years of pent up sexual tension and finally having a release can be quite dramatic. So he’s definitely dealing with that, which is quite nice.”
Last season ended with a cliffhanger between Maeve and Otis. Fans have been pointing out the evident chemistry between the two characters, but now that Otis has his girlfriend Ola, is it time to say goodbye to the slow burn ship that is Maeve and Otis?
“You know, I think he genuinely likes her,” Asa says, talking about Ola. “I think his feelings for Maeve aren’t gone. He definitely, obviously still feels those feelings for her,” he then struggles to find his words.
“It’s a tricky situation for them. I do think they [Otis and Ola] definitely share a great connection in a lot of ways. It could be considered, like, an even better match on the surface, especially since they’re both new to it all. Maeve would probably be quite a lot for him to take on in terms of a relationship.”
He teases no further about the fate of Otis’ relationships for season two. You’ll have to wait and find out for yourself. But of course, Sex Education wouldn’t be the show’s namesake without actual education about sex. This season’s trailer, which came out last January 8, promises a lot of conundrums, including a chlamydia outbreak in Moordale Secondary.
“There are a lot of quite important matters which we touched on and which we go to explore this season,” Asa says.
If last season, the show addressed abortion, homophobia, slut-shaming, and many more, this season continues the same formula. Asa mentions deep-hitting topics, including sexual assault, to be featured in season two. “We know these characters now so we’re able to push it a bit further.”
There comes a point in this new season where you’ll hate Otis for his actions, which is unusual because the protagonist is often the one you’ll root for, no matter how awful their actions are.
“What I learned about my character going back to the second season, I mean, he really tries his best but often that comes across badly. It’s something I thought was new in the first season, but there’s definitely parts of the second season that highlight this,” Asa says. “I think that’s good because it’s nice when the lead character isn’t perfect.”
In a nutshell, that’s what Sex Education is aiming for: to talk about things the way nobody else has. It’s honest, funny, and uncomfortable at times. But despite the queasy confrontations, it’s meant to connect to people on a deeper level. To help teenagers feel like they aren’t alone and for the older generation to understand what these kids are feeling, or perhaps even reminisce from their own experience as well.
Sex Education doesn’t only revolve around one character’s story, which is what made the series so loved by millions of viewers. With that, Asa mentions his love for his co-star, Ncuti Gatwa, who plays his best friend Eric Effiong.
“Honestly, he [Ncuti] brings so much joy to the set, not just for me, but for everyone. I think he now knows this, but he really is a beacon of light on set, especially on tough days,” Asa shares. “He’s so positive, and has so, so much energy and so much spirit. It’s really important to have someone like that on set. And we get on so well. And I feel like we really found a really nice and unique place for Otis and Eric’s relationship. And I feel like a lot of that comes from how Ncuti and I got to know each other and how close we’ve become. We are very different, Otis and Eric are very different, but I think that really works in our favor. We really complement each other because of our differences.”
From another phone call with Ncuti, he shares his excitement to MEGA Man about the storylines explored in season two.
“If you’re a fan of the show, you’re gonna be very happy with this season because everybody’s storyline will be spread out all across Moordale,” He says through the phone. “So it’s very exciting to see different characters come to the forefront and to see new characters shaking up the school of Moordale.”
Eric Effiong’s journey as a gay black Catholic is a story very rarely discussed on television. From his heartwarming relationship with his dad to his surprising arc with Adam, the fans have really taken a liking to his character.
Ncuti reminisces season one, “when I read episode one, as soon as Adam comes in, I just thought, ‘I bet you two would end up together’ because Adam is always lurking around Eric!” With Ncuti’s laugh echoing throughout the room, it was becoming clear why Asa describes him as a beacon of light.
When asked what he thought about Eric and Adam’s storyline, he said, “I think that the scene in the music room [in season one] shows a really honest moment of these two characters that have both been denied intimacy and affection in some ways before.”
“We got such a good reaction in season one…when you get a good reaction out of something you have to kind of live up to it,” Ncuti says. “Which I think we did in season two,” he adds with a laugh.
In the first episode of Sex Education Season 2, Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson) references the Three T’s to freeing teenagers from unwarranted stigma; trust, talking, and truth. And if you take a look at all the past episodes, the key take away is: to be honest.
Gillian Anderson describes Otis’ relationship with Jean as complex. Picking up from the story in season one, Jean has been secretly dating the dad of Ola and in season two, Otis finds out in the most unfortunate way.
“It seems like just when they have found a good place in which to coexist, either Jean or Otis will do something that will shake the foundation of their agreement.” Gillian shares. “You know, the silent agreement between parent and child and what one expects from either of them,” she expounds.
Gillian, who has two young sons and a daughter around the same age as Otis, learns a little bit more about dealing with teenagers from her role as Jean. Sex Education infuses real-life crises to a light-hearted coming-of-age story. With the promise of the second season, Gillian leaves a message of hope for everyone who has watched the show so far.
“The biggest thing they can take away is self-acceptance and a sense of relief that they find other human beings in the world who are experiencing some of the same things, dilemmas and feelings. The physical conundrums and awkwardness, the shame and the guilt–all of that, which is an element of a human being. When you’re a teenager, it feels so much more devastating, so to witness other teenagers going through exactly those things, I would hope that would bring a sense of relief and comfort.”
Sex Education Season 2 will stream on Netflix starting January 17.