Gillian Anderson plays a sex therapist in Sex Education.
British teen comedy series Sex Education became a runaway hit in 2019. As the name suggests, the Netflix series deals with teenagers and their misadventures with sex. While protagonist Otis is trying to overcome his shortcomings, his mother, Dr Jean Milburn, who is a sex therapist, is sometimes a cause for embarrassment for this young teen. Milburn is played by Gillian Anderson, who is known for her work in The X-Files.
Anderson recently revealed why she picked the role in Sex Education. In a statement, she said, "I am not often offered comedy and don’t often get to play funny characters, so I am always looking for some way of changing that. I really liked Jean. I am very interested in the world of Netflix and I thought the whole concept was bold and smart."
Gillian Anderson also spoke about the 'misguided versions' of sex that teens are dealing with and said, "Everything is out of proportion and not where the focus could and should be in terms of real intimacy, so it’s fabulous to draw attention to the misguided versions of what sex today is for teenagers."
On the show, Anderson plays a sex therapist, so the makers had to make sure that all the advice she gave to her son and patients were factually correct. "The scripts were checked by a sex therapist to make sure her advice was good. So much of Jean’s story is about letting go of Otis as he becomes an adult. A lot of people will be able to relate to that," she said.
In real life, Gillian Anderson is mother to two sons and in some ways, the show has helped her relationship with them as well. "I have learnt all sorts of things on this series, and it’s made me a bit less afraid about broaching things with my sons."
But despite all the learning, she would prefer not watching Sex Education with her sons. The actor said, "God, no! My sons are starting at a new school so they are about to go through all of this. I am slightly cringing at them even watching it at all."
Gillian Anderson with Asa Butterfield in a still from Sex Education.
Otis and Jean's relationship is quite central to the show, and though they have their ups and downs, they share a bond that's essential for them both. "Jean oversteps a lot of boundaries, even though she often discusses that stuff with her clients," Anderson said.
Not just a mother, Gillian Anderson's character here is a well rounded one. We see her sexual misadventures as well, which, quite frankly, are just plain awkward for Otis. Anderson said, "There is also something about intimacy that scares her, so she prefers sexual relationships with a few different partners that have no depth whatsoever. The idea of that is quite freeing in that she is not hurting anybody, but if you are constantly pushing away people who are showing you things you don’t want to see about yourself, you are not wanting to really look at yourself. It makes her a really interesting character."
Sex Education Season 2 starts streaming from January 17 on Netflix.