Saturday, February 2, 2019


After returning from my California trip in mid December I binged on a few TV shows while I was recovering, and then again in the past days of arctic temperatures. Out of all the shows I binged on my two favorites so far are SEX EDUCATION and GLOW.

It may not be a coincidence that these two shows were created by women (Laurie Nunn in the case of SEX ED and Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch in the case of GLOW—though after typing them they all sound like they could be made up names). Maybe because both shows deal with sex and gender issues that maybe it takes a female perspective to get right.

SEX EDUCATION is set in a lushly green part of Britain I've never encountered in person or seen in films: tree-smothered rolling hills in a picture perfect small town/suburban/rural sunny landscape populated by a diverse but mostly tolerantly integrated populace so civilized in their treatment of each other, for the most part, it would be impossible to do a USA version without losing everything there is to delight in. And that's a lot.

The big revelation is the star Asa Butterfield playing the adolescent son of sex therapists, one, his dad, living in the USA and the other, his divorced mom he lives with in Britain, played by Gillian Anderson. I didn't recognize her (I didn't follow THE X FILES) and with her Brit accent I assumed she was an English actor and kept meaning to look her up because she is so perfect in this role. But then all the actors in this show are knockouts, especially Ncuti Gatwa playing an emerging trans teen and Kedar Williams-Stirling his surprisingly loving father.

SEX EDUCATION is what they're calling these days a dramady, and has as many emotionally poignant moments as it does laugh out loud ones. Yes there are a lot of the typical tropes of films about high school teens and their cliques and stereotypes and sexual confusion, but with enough original twists and natural, less prurient (then the usual USA versions) takes on sexual discoveries, that I cannot wait for the third season.

GLOW is set in LA in the 1980s, the fictional story of the first women's professional wrestling show, and is also a dramady that hits all the right notes. And though it's about what would seemingly be a world where women are exploited for their physical attributes, it scores more feminist points than any of the other shows I've binged on. And the star, Allison Brie, deserves to have won most of the TV acting awards. She plays every note an actor can from the broadest slapstick comedy to the subtlest romantic despair leading to tragic mistakes etc.

Again, this show is also full of extraordinary acting, including the standout performance of Marc Maron, a comic who knocks the serious moments out of the park and nails the comic ones with seeming knee jerk macho sexist reactions undercut by understated unexpected vulnerability (and Britt Baron playing his daughter is a discovery). Too many great performances to list them all. Watch and you'll see.

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