The second season of Sex Education is available right now on Netflix. Turns out, the writers are okay with continuing to romanticize Eric being in love with his bully (Adam). And even if they have a bigger narrative arc planned for season 3 concerning these two characters, I don’t like a queer character’s development being defined by how he interacts with his bully.
This article contains certain spoilers related to Adam and Eric’s relationship in Sex Education season 2. You have been warned.
Let’s be real, Netflix has been offering a lot of quantity in the queer representation department without much quality. Now, I know Netflix shows can get messy. I mean, Elite is trash, but it’s the type of trash I will die for. What works in the show’s favor is how it just wants to tell a messy story, featuring high school teenagers, without preaching anything. However, Sex Education is different.
I wouldn’t be writing about the problematic queer representation in Sex Education if the show didn’t feel pride in being a series that wants to help teens understand sexuality and how it impacts relationships.
That’s why seeing the trope of the gay guy falling in love with his closeted bully is unfortunate and highly disappointing. How could Sex Education mess up so badly in the first season and then continue to poorly handle the arc in the second outing?
From the trailer for the current season, it was obvious Eric and Adam’s relationship was going to be talked about.
So, I began watching the show’s new episodes with a sense of unease as well as a bit of hope. The actor who plays Eric knows about the problematic nature of his relationship with Adam. So, it’s not a leap in logic to assume the writers know, too, right? It’s not illogical of me to think the writers might try to course correct the situation, right?
Well, lo and behold, the writers did decide to address the bullying issue, but it all came across as unnecessarily rushed and a reason to invite even more drama in Eric’s life with season 3.
Below I have paraphrased how the initial conversation went between Eric and his best friend Otis when Eric came clean about Adam.
- Otis: “Adam bullied you for years!”
- Eric: “He has changed.”
- Otis: “You really hate yourself so much you would ignore your current healthy romance with Rahim just to get back with your bully?”
- Eric: “He has changed.”
The following conversation (again, I’m paraphrasing here) happened after Otis took care of the stuff that stopped their initial conversation:
- Otis: “Why didn’t you tell me?”
- Eric: “I thought you would be judgmental.”
- Otis: “Yeah, you are so right. I was being judgmental. My bad.”
EXCUSE ME! But when your best friend begins a secret relationship with their bully, that’s the perfect moment for you to be judgmental about it!
The conversation between Otis and Eric felt like the writers’ way of telling viewers who aren’t Eric/Adam fans to board the particular ship or drown while continuing to not like it.
Do you want me to tell you what happened after Otis and Eric’s conversation?
I’ll tell you!
Sex Education season 2 decided to have Eric break things off with Adam, telling him how much hurt he had caused Eric over the years. And you know what? For a moment I was glad and pleasantly surprised. I really thought the writers were going to do the right thing and give Eric and Adam some space to grow as young individuals.
Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against Eric and Adam being in a relationship together. I’m all for accepting that people can change for the better. But their relationship needs to occur at least a couple of years down the line.
However, in a very messy piece of writing, the finale of Sex Education season 2 had Adam interrupt the school play to profess his love for Eric in front of everyone. Which… wow!
Does Eric’s family know he wants to be with his bully?
The writers even decided to show Rahim, a new character introduced as Eric’s love interest, walk out of the play (after pleading with Eric to not go back to Adam) and crying on a bench outside.
Not only that, near the end of the episode, Eric went over to Rahim to apologize and do you know what Rahim told him? He said that Adam might be able to hold Eric’s hand in public, but Adam won’t be able to catch him.
So, there you have it, the Adam and Eric relationship mess is going to continue into the show’s third season because apparently the writers can’t think of anything better to do other than having the gay character’s development be linked to his bully.
Instead of offering a well-written narrative arc that could have helped viewers understand how problematic it is for queer kids to fall for a bully who has tormented them for years, we got a romanticization of abuse.
Do I want Adam to grow into a better person? Yes! Do I want him to find happiness? Yes!
But Adam can find all those things without the writers feeling the need to have him be in a relationship with Eric.
Likewise, Eric deserves a lot better. And, frankly, so does Rahim.
Basically, Eric’s arc in Sex Education season 2 was finally finding a man (Rahim) who openly loved him and then breaking up with him to be with his bully (Adam).
Y’all, Glee handled a similar situation a lot better when it came to Kurt Hummel and Dave Krafosky. Even though Dave came out of the closet and confessed his romantic feelings, Kurt (rightfully) shut down his advances. However, with time, they agreed to work on being platonic friends.
That’s what I wanted to see from Eric and Adam. But nopes! The writers just had to give us a problematic arc involving romance and abuse. For what, though? Sensationalism?
Again, I wouldn’t have been so disappointed about this entire thing if Sex Education didn’t feel the need to prop itself as a series that’s all about addressing important conversations involving growing up, gender identity, sexuality, etc.
But I guess Sex Education isn’t offering much quality content when you really dig into it. Most of the stuff is surface level so it can think it’s different from the rest.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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