Review: Sex, Explained

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Education that doesn't feel like you're learning is the best education, and that is exactly what this show offers.

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Sex, Explained is a five-part documentary series produced by Vox, broadcast on Netflix, that investigates various aspects related to sex education in an extremely digestible way. The series, and another called The Mind, Explained, come as a spin-off from the 2018 show, Explained that was also produced by Vox and took the same format as the production company’s YouTube series. The episodes are narrated Janelle Monáe and cover one topic per episode: sexual fantasies, attraction, birth control, fertility, and childbirth.

The strength of this series is how educational it is. Each episode covers the history, studies, and modern understanding of the topic it covers so that instead of being given the basic facts in bullet point form, you learn the breadth and depth of that topic, often with humorous anecdotes. Even though it is incredibly interesting, it is the gravity of what these topics mean to the individual watching that suck you in. These topics aren’t something pulled from thin air that is a world away from your own life, they are all things experienced by the population of the world at one time or another and therefore are things that impact us. Why wouldn’t you want to know more about it?

Yes, the title has the often titillating and thrilling word ‘sex’ in it, but that doesn’t damn the show to being crass, rude, or seductive in its format. It is the opposite. The show very successfully educates the viewer about many different aspects of sex, things that are either left out of or glossed over in the sex education many receive at school. So much of the information that comes through this series affect the population at one point or another, yet the information has to only be acquired through a Netflix show, not at the crucial moments in our development when we are ‘taught’ about sex. It is for this reason that more of a point should be made about celebrating and promoting this show.

We live in an age, still, where sex is an embarrassing topic for teenagers to be taught by either their teachers at school or there parents so they turn to the internet, or worse still come across myths and misinformation that is propagated and taken to be fact. In an age where everyone has access to the internet and more and more younger people can access that connection, we should be pushing our teens and young adults towards this sort of show. Facts, rather than an ideal expectation or biased opinion, are presented in such an easy-to-understand way and through a means that the individual need not come face to face with someone they are uncomfortable with. Although there is no way one single show would replace an entire sex education curriculum, it can only be beneficial to promote this as a means to educate.

However, this isn’t the only demographic. The short bite-sized episodes are packed with an incredible amount of information that, yes educate, but did also shock. They are incredibly easy to watch episodes and market towards everyone, regardless of age, gender, and experience. If you’re looking to simply scratch that sexually intellectual itch and answer questions you had never thought of, this is a show to check out. Documentaries are enjoyed by many, especially with the genre’s explosion in recent years on Netflix, and whilst Sex, Explained is (formally) a documentary, it doesn’t feel like that. Vox’s production, which came from the YouTube space, means that it feels like a short educational video, one you might stumble upon anywhere on the internet. It isn’t a demanding show to watch and so there is nothing to lose, especially when you consider how this show could help you in any aspect of life.

All episodes of Sex, Explained can be watched on Netflix.

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Third year English and Film student. Dog obsessed, tea drinking, and rewatching anything I can to pass the time.

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