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Sex, lies and betrayal: Netflix's youth dramas Elite, You and Sex Education turn up the heat

Sex, lies and betrayal: Netflix's youth dramas Elite, You and Sex Education turn up the heat

You up?

Text: Aravin Sandran


Image: Netflix

Elite

Storyline: The show's non-linear narrative begins with bloodshed at Las Encinas, an exclusive private school in Spain. The whodunnit mystery unravels with each episode. It follows three working-class students: sweet Samuel, conservative Nadia and clownish Christian who attempt to integrate themselves into the upper echelons of the school's bitchy community.

Most attractive star: One of the standout characters in the series is a gay, drug-dealing Muslim teen named Omar, who struggles to come to terms with his sexuality in the face of his family's religious and conservative values. It's not all so dire though; he finds love in tennis prodigy Ander who believes coming out will expand LGBTQ representation in the sport. Their blossoming relationship speaks about self-acceptance and compassion even when the going gets tough.

Sexiest scene: There's no time to waste when everyone's looking this fine. In the first episode, Lucrecia and German are caught banging in the showers, while in the third episode, an epic threesome featuring Karla, Christian and Polo sets the tone for the rest of the season.

Sex commentary: While the series features a raunchy throuple, it's surprisingly progressive when it comes to its portrayal of HIV, homosexuality and polyamory. Further to that, its nuanced and layered characters struggle with class divisions and Islamophobia. Think of this series as a woke, sexy and Spanish version of Mean Girls with a not-so-happy ending.

YOU

Storyline: Based on Caroline Kepnes' 2014 novel of the same name, YOU follows a creepy bookstore manager (Penn Badgley) who uses his stalkerish ways on social media to track down and get close to a clueless blonde named Beck. Little does she know that this seemingly disarming all-American dude is a borderline psychopath who traps and kills people in an all-glass box in the basement.

Most attractive star: The all-knowing Peach Salinger played by Shay Mitchell running in a slip dress with a pistol in hand stands out against a cast of run-of-the-mill faces unless of course Gossip Girl's lonely boy Penn does it for you. We're not judging. 

Sexiest scene: At 00:49 on the trailer, watch Joseph go down on Beck as she stands with her back against the closet. It's nice to know that Joseph is at least a giver.

Sex commentary: While it might not be an issue-led series, the show has received some flak for its fluffy handling of sexual harassment. By that we mean, there isn't any highbrow lessons to be learnt here.

Sex Education

Storyline: Awkward teen Otis Milburn (blue-eyed newcomer Asa Butterfield) navigates the volatility of puberty and high school while living with his sex therapist mother (bleached blonde Gillian Anderson). After going through a couple of uncomfortable exchanges with his mother ("I've noticed you're pretending to masturbate"), Otis uses whatever he has learnt to start a sex therapy clinic with a rebellious girl for the sexually repressed students at the school. From out-of-control pubic hair to penile insecurity, the conversations cover the A to Z spectrum of modern love and sex.

Most attractive star: None — because having a fondness for pimple-faced pubescent adolescents is just plain creepy.

Sexiest scene: None — this show talks more about sex than actually doing it.

Sex commentary: The title of the show succinctly sums up its aim to promote open and inclusive discussions about sex positivity among youths. An undeniable British irreverence and charm set this coming-of-age drama apart from its vulgar and cheap American counterparts. 

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