Upon seeing the Netflix banner advertising their new program Sex Education starring Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson, I was, as I am with all of Netflix's original programming, confused as to whether it was a series or a movie.
I also remained unconvinced that I needed another high school sex comedy in my life. I grew up on SKINS and Degrassi. I was easily satisfied with the smut that Riverdale was giving me every week, so I didn't think I had room in my life for anything else. Yet, my friend, who has pushed me to watch my favorite shows of the past year (Killing Eve and Marvelous Miss Maisel) told me she loved it, and that I would likely enjoy it too. Within that same day, another person texted me asking if I'd watched it and then hours later someone in a meme page (of course) proclaimed that Netflix had gotten it right big time with this show. It was self-aware, sex-positive and open-minded – all things that are hard to come by in today's media landscape. I was convinced to at least give it a try.
I loved it. I finished it in days (it probably would have been faster if I didn't have work obligations) and in so many ways the show made me gleam with pride over its honest depiction of teenage sex. I was impressed at the depictions of teenagers owning their sexuality and enthralled by the charming characters. Asa Butterfield plays Otis, the son of a sex therapist (played by Gillian Anderson), who is struggling to master his own sexual experiences. His best friend, Eric, is played by the effervescent Ncuti Gatwa who so confidently and maturely experiments with his own sexuality and gender expression. Maeve (played by Emma Mackey), is the outsider who's misunderstood. The world thinks of her as the promiscuous girl at school, but Maeve is brilliant. She makes money by writing her peers essays and is able to support herself despite her absentee parents. She and Otis form a friendship which leads them to open a sex clinic for their peers. Maeve is the business manager, and Otis takes the role of sex therapist because, despite his own lack of experience, the years of eavesdropping on his mother's clinic has given him all he needs to counsel his peers.
The friendship between Maeve and Otis is unlikely, but they bond over their desire to make money while also helping others. In true television fashion, it shows that they're not so different after all. Disappointingly, however, the show falls back on a tired trope – boy and girl become friends, and it quickly turns romantic.
By the third episode, Otis is seemingly falling for Maeve despite her lack of interest in him. In the final episode, Maeve has decided that she must also be interested in Otis, but it's too late as Otis has moved on. This may be the most problematic theme of the show. It's the line that Billy Crystal first uttered in When Harry Met Sally, "Men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way." This idea that men and women can't maintain a platonic relationship because of sex has been the plot to many a romantic comedy, but in a show focused on sex positivity, it feels incredibly backwards.
And sure, Otis is in a time where he's desperate for his first sexual experience as a heterosexual male, and Maeve is the first girl he may have been close with. He thinks because she asked him to meet her somewhere (it turns out she needed him to accompany her out of a family planning clinic) that she's romantically interested in him. Instead, in this scenario, I want Otis to take the advice he gives to Maeve's partner Jackson – stop treating her like an object. Just because Otis acknowledges Maeve's interests does not somehow mean he's a better man than Jackson, who has a surface view of Maeve. He's still vying for her attention. He thinks that just because he's better than one guy, this means she must choose him. The reality is Maeve doesn't have to choose between them. She does, in fact, have a third option: choosing neither of them.
Friendships between heterosexual men and women don't have to turn romantic. When I think of the most empowering relationships in my life, the ones that have allowed me to learn about my own sexuality through honest conversation, all that comes to mind are my platonic friendships. I firmly believe that Maeve and Otis could be at the beginning of a similarly meaningful friendship. They're two characters who've formed an unlikely bond, and I want to see the antics that can ensue. What I'm not interested in is the same old "will they or won't they," and then they finally get together, and it ends poorly, and then they can't salvage the friendship. Or they get married. Either way, that's where the trope almost always leads, and I'm bored by it.
Instead, steer Maeve away from being a manic pixie dream girl and Otis away from being the boy who uses a girl to become a man. I want to see them support one another, as friends, because quite frankly, I don't see the romantic chemistry. I see a show developing a manic pixie dream girl for their lead man, but it doesn't have to be that way.
When I look at this show at its most fundamental, I absolutely adore it and want to follow the lives of these characters for years to come. However, I want it to take a sharp turn from the direction it's currently headed. For a show that's doing so much right, Sex Education still plays into traditional, heteronormative stereotypes, ones that are at best antiquated and at worst potentially dangerous. I'm rooting for Maeve and Otis but purely because I want to see them get through the painful years of high school alive. This show is so great, it shouldn't waste its time playing to dated romantic comedy plots.
Samantha is a Boston-based freelance writer and restaurant industry professional. She takes her martinis with gin and olives. You can follow her on Instagram @samantharosmangino
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The PlayStation 1 era of video games, lasting from 1995 until the PlayStation 2's release in 2000, was defined by its JRPGs.
Unlike most other genres of the era, Japanese role-playing games were largely story-based, weaving epic tales that proved video games could be more than just mindless diversions. Gameplay typically revolved around turn-based combat, relying more on tactics than hand-eye coordination. Due to their reliance on plot and menu-based mechanics, many JRPGs stand the test of time even after decades of graphical improvements. Let's take a look at nine of the best JRPGs that the PS1 had to offer.
Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy 8, and Final Fantasy 9<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MTUyOTk2M30.e05q_Fr-JXf46sYXCv2P0gzFJ_PPmuqSIaxHG3-5Akg/img.jpg?width=980" id="dfc99" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a3f28c9c4dec7e8fea12d81237bdfb0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Final Fantasy 7" />
Square Enix<p>Let's just get the obvious out of the way first. <em>Final Fantasy 7</em>, <em>Final Fantasy 8</em>, and <em>Final Fantasy 9</em> rank amongst the most beloved games history. <em><a href="https://www.popdust.com/how-final-fantasy-vii-remake-redefines-what-a-remake-can-be-2645973706.html" target="_blank">Final Fantasy 7</a> </em><a href="https://www.popdust.com/how-final-fantasy-vii-remake-redefines-what-a-remake-can-be-2645973706.html">redefined what a video game could be for an entire generation of gamers</a>, while <em>Final Fantasy 8 </em>and <em>Final Fantasy 9</em> took big risks, shifting their game mechanics enough to feel completely distinct from every other game that came before them and overshadowing pretty much every other game on the PS1. If you like video games in general, all three of these are must-plays. If you've already played them, they most likely rank amongst your favorites already.</p>
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgxMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTcxMTEzMX0.RHOv48sXCc4tJrqp190WdWdOSybNaTCo-eds-zLpcxA/img.jpg?width=980" id="378f9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1932ee8092fe2272ca693bf8319991d4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Lunar 2 Eternal Blue" />
Entertainment Software<p>Featuring fantastic character designs, full-blown anime cutscenes, and one of the best soundtracks in any video game ever, <em>Lunar 2: Eternal Blue </em>easily deserves far more recognition than it gets. <em>Lunar 2</em>'s gameplay is classic RPG perfection, with each party members' play style feeling incredibly distinct (one of them is a gambler, and his best move hinges on a dice roll). It also had a <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Lunar-Eternal-Complete-Official-Strategy/dp/0966299337" target="_blank">gorgeous hardcover guidebook</a> that would run you a few hundred dollars if you were to buy it nowadays.</p>
The Legend of Dragoon<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgyMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTk1MzA5OH0.2mlVO0qY1KYgdCCqyl1zgkhgEsZ2OaMcKH1i9YF51cE/img.jpg?width=980" id="82d26" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e102d36c0b23d3d3321496d73a1153dd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Legend of Dragoon" />
Sony<p>Culturally eclipsed by the release of <em>Final Fantasy 8</em>, <em><a href="https://www.popdust.com/video-games-remakes-2646360023.html" target="_blank">Legend of Dragoon </a></em><a href="https://www.popdust.com/video-games-remakes-2646360023.html">never achieved the mainstream success of its contemporary</a>, but nevertheless picked up a cult following that sings the games praises even to this day. Alongside a great story, the best part about <em>Legend of Dragoon</em> was its Dragoon Transformation mechanic, whereby your characters could temporarily transform into legendary winged warriors with enhanced move-sets and powerful special attacks.</p>
Xenogears<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgyNy9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0Mzk1NTUzOX0.VqokfSxeeZ_nAtZWXgJSAXwd3tdE0iPXv9wkPte92NQ/img.png?width=980" id="d95b8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="433b7414dcc9a4e392d26c5c0b4e8a45" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Xenogears" />
Square Enix<p><em>Xenogears </em>was the spiritual predecessor to the <em>Xenosaga </em>and <em>Xenoblade </em>games, meaning that it's all about two things: anime and robots. Okay, that's simplifying things a lot. In actuality, <em>Xenogears</em>' plot is amongst the deepest and most complex in any video game, even standing out amidst a genre that prioritizes storytelling. If you like great video game storytelling, there are few games that will ever even come close to <em>Xenogears</em>.<br></p>
Suikoden 2<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgzMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNDc2OTMxMn0.Jfpuiv6GrqlYsj0O4QG-bAXgqhV7BjTM_LnlkilzbRw/img.jpg?width=980" id="d2c99" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bd841af76e17ce0d8d2759209b61900f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Suikoden 2" />
Konami<p>While <em>Suikoden 2 </em>didn't make a huge splash upon its release, many JRPG fans retrospectively consider it the single-best title of its era. The <em>Suikoden </em>franchise's big gimmick is that, instead of having a roster of five to 10 playable characters, your character roster clocks in at 108. <em>Suikoden 2 </em>makes great use of the variation in its characters, resulting in a game that can be played over and over again in countless different ways. The old-school, 32-bit graphics, which worked against it at the time of its release, have also served to make <em>Suikoden 2</em> game look a lot better than its 3D contemporaries all these years later. As a side note, if you like <em>Suikoden</em>, be sure to check out the <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rabbitandbearstudios/eiyuden-chronicle-hundred-heroes/description" target="_blank">Kickstarter for its spiritual successor,</a> <em><a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rabbitandbearstudios/eiyuden-chronicle-hundred-heroes/description">Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes</a></em>.</p>
Persona 2: Eternal Punishment<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgzNi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjg2MzY3M30.J7NW173dRiHByU2pR8CpIuzmV0Dp0EIAa5wY5jjft1g/img.png?width=980" id="fa0bd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9ec9fc90447cfff8b1dc940aabd48048" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Persona 2 eternal punishment" />
Atlus<p>Technically the third <em>Persona </em>title, <em>Persona 2: Eternal Punishment </em>is the sequel to <em>Persona 2: Innocent Sin</em>. <em></em><em>Eternal Punishment</em> improves upon its predecessor's unique gameplay mechanics, specifically the rumor-based system wherein rumors spread throughout the city, changing how your character interacts with other people. This would go on to heavily influence the mechanics of future <em>Persona </em>titles. And yet, unlike the later <em>Persona </em>games, <em>Eternal Punishment</em>'s deeply unsettling art style is still in the same vein of the series it spun off from—<a href="https://www.popdust.com/shin-megami-tensei-2646445668.html" target="_blank">Shin Megami Tensei</a>.<span></span></p>
Final Fantasy Tactics<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjg0NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzg4ODc0NH0.CHSi48sL_MHNXOGzLKXUAlgarEWmrTPfPr8d8PfUhMM/img.jpg?width=980" id="f0688" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4b36f1c1829d0676b59995068ba6a181" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Final Fantasy Tactics" />
Square Enix<p>While traditional JRPG combat relies solely on menu-based battle options, Tactical RPGs add on grid-based positioning wherein your units must move around a battlefield in order to confront opponents. These games also typically feature perma-death mechanics, so if a unit dies, they die forever. There have been plenty of great Tactical RPGs over the years, but none have surpassed <em>Final Fantasy Tactics</em>, which boasts an incredible story <em>and </em>the single-coolest unit in any game of its genre—<a href="https://finalfantasy.fandom.com/wiki/Cidolfus_Orlandeau" target="_blank">Thunder God Cid</a>.<em></em></p>
We can celebrate the Boy Who Lived while still advocating for transgender rights.
Today, July 31, 2020, is Harry Potter's 40th birthday.
Harry Potter might be one of the most successful franchises of all time, but Harry's birthday this year comes coded with some recent statements made by J.K. Rowling. The author's xenophobic tweets have made her, arguably, one of the most powerful TERFs—or trans-exclusionary radical feminists—in pop culture today.
Rowling has been known to make some unusual remarks before—remember that time she said Dumbledore was gay, despite having never depicted his sexuality in the books?—but her TERF shenanigans are by far her most infuriating. Last December, Rowling received a wave of backlash after tweeting in support of Maya Forstater, an English woman who lost her job after posting a series of tweets questioning government plans to let people declare their own gender.