‘I’m A Sex Consultant On Sex Education – Here’s What I’m Proudest Of’

As the final series of Netflix show Sex Education hits screens, sex expert & writer Alix Fox – a script consultant on the show – reflects on some of the most important storylines.

Sex education script consultant

by Alix Fox |
Updated on

As the fourth and final season of ground-breaking Netflix series Sex Education hits screens, sex expert & writer Alix Fox – a script consultant on the show – reflects on some of the most important and impactful teachings it introduced to audiences; surprises that emerged during development; and the enduring effects that will resonate long after Otis hangs up his signature block-striped jacket for the last time…

There were some pretty bonkers stories about bonking in the notes I took to my very first meeting with Sex Education creator, Laurie Nunn, back in 2018.

I had extracts from interviews with ‘looners’, ‘alvinophiliacs’ and ‘nasophiles’: people with fetishes for balloons, belly buttons and noses. Then there was the tale of the lobbyist campaigning against the body shaming of men with petite penises, who threw a ‘Big Small Penis Protest Party’ where the more wee a guest’s willy was, the less their ticket cost.

And tragically, there were also umpteen accounts of truly terrible high school sex ed classes, where teens had been so badly taught – or not taught at all – that they spent years believing that condoms were devices that stopped bananas from turning brown; that robots were routinely involved in reproduction; or petrified that the ‘lump on their genitals’ was a wart when it was, in fact, their clitoris.

In that initial writers’ room session, my job was to share true-life experiences from my career as a sex journalist, to inspire Nunn and her team as they fleshed out a brilliantly original manuscript she’d devised: it was about a boy with a sex therapist mother, who used the skills he’d picked up at home to counsel his schoolmates about their X-rated concerns. I ended up being hired to consult on the scripts on a long-term basis, and the show itself went on to become one of Netflix’s hugest hits: its third season garnered a staggering 6.6 million views within 91 days of release, and won Best Comedy Series at the 2022 Emmys.

Audiences couldn’t get enough – in large part because Sex Education’s unabashed, diverse depictions and discussions of real, relatable sex and relationships were something they’d not had nearly enough of in the past, neither on screen nor in their wider lives.

People finally felt seen by scenes about gender dysphoria, performance anxiety and vaginismus (a condition causing the vaginal muscles to involuntarily tighten shut when any type of penetration is attempted, rendering it impossibly painful). They were enlightened on subjects from anal douching and abortion to alien role play and asexuality, without ever feeling patronised or preached to. Plus, they were warmly invited to laugh at the whole clumsy, clodhopping, cringe-worthiness of human beings awkwardly trying to get on with getting it on, rather than pretending that sexy stuff is always slick ‘n’ slinky. Heck, as demonstrated in the second season opener, sometimes it involves accidentally ejaculating on the passenger window of your mum’s car. While she’s looking through it.

As the show now goes out with a bang in its farewell fourth season, here are a trio of lessons from Sex Education that I believe will be celebrated way beyond its climax.


“I’ve been wanking all night; I ate four packets of crumpets, and I think my clit might drop off,” announces Moordale High student Aimee in Season 1.

Her post-nubbin’-rubbin’ snack of choice mystified copious American viewers, prompting the official Sex Education Instagram account to post a picture of the classically British breadstuff by way of explanation. It also gave rise to a new slang term suggested by fan forums: “crumpeting” was proposed to mean “the act of someone with a clitoris masturbating while laying face down”, as Aimee is shown doing.

Watching a woman climax in this position was revolutionary to many people who had previously only seen female masturbation in pornography, where poses are often selected primarily to cater to the male gaze, and performance takes precedence over genuine pleasure. ‘I thought the sole way ‘normal’ women got themselves off was on their backs, with their legs spread wide,’ read one of scores of similar messages I received after the episode aired. ‘I thought I was a weirdo for preferring to lay on my stomach in a way that delivers extra pressure and friction, and seriously worried that I might have a ‘faulty’, desensitised clit. Seeing Aimee get off like I do was a massive reassurance.’

Others loved that the character was pictured touching herself beneath a duvet, rather than splayed out on display. They enthused about how they too liked to stay cosy beneath their covers; pull their sheets over their heads to block out light and lose themselves in fantasy; or even savour hotboxing their own primal, turned-on scent.

Scores of viewers simply saluted the fact that female masturbation was being righteously celebrated as natural, delightful, and an illuminating means of self-exploration. A recent survey of 2,000 UK-based adults by sexual wellness company TENGA revealed that over a fifth of 18-34s masturbate to make discoveries about their personal tastes and desires – yet countless women told me they’d been taught that enjoying and learning about themselves this way was dirty; shameful; something only men did; or a sin in the eyes of God.

Sex Education makes a clear statement that there should be no stigma in women taking their sexual satisfaction into their own hands. Masturbation is liberation.

Looking for a new toy to crumpet with yourself? Some of my favourites that eagle eyes will spot in Season 4 include the LELO SORAYA 2 rabbit; Lovehoney’s TikTok-famous clitoral suction Rose; and a 3-in-1 sucking wand vibrator from Bondara, appropriately named ‘The Duvet Day’.


In Season 3, gay character Anwar visits a sexual health nurse. “Every film I’ve ever seen with a gay person ends with them having sex and dying of AIDS,” he tells her, fearfully.

It’s still heartbreakingly common for people to believe that if you contract HIV, it’s a death sentence. I’m an ambassador for HIV Testing Week, and when I speak to average folks in their 20s or even younger about their perceptions of HIV and AIDS, with shocking frequency they still reference the infamous ‘tombstone’ ads of the 1980s; the passing of Freddie Mercury in 1991; or movies set decades ago, like Dallas Buyers Club. Yet these enduring cultural touchpoints no longer reflect the infinitely brighter outlook for people living with HIV nowadays – because ‘living’ is indeed the operative word.

Modern antiretroviral therapies enable HIV positive individuals to enjoy long, healthy, normal lives. These medicines can also reduce the level of the virus in a person’s blood (known as their ‘viral load’) to such a minuscule amount that it is classed as “undetectable”…at which point that person cannot pass HIV on. The shorthand for this is “U=U”: “Undetectable equals Untransmittable”.

The science behind this claim has been robustly proven, including by two extensive pieces of research called the ‘PARTNER’ studies. Together, these involved examining 135,500 incidences of condomless sex between 1,700 couples, in which one person was HIV negative, and the other had HIV that was medicated to become undetectable. There were zero HIV transmissions. Not one.

On top of that, there’s also preventative medication now available called PrEP (“Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis”) which people can take to stop themselves contracting HIV if they are accidentally exposed to it – for example, if they sleep with someone who doesn’t yet know they’re a carrier.

These are extraordinary, profound breakthroughs. And Anwar’s Sex Education scene (the one I’m most proud of assisting with in the entire series) gave them a glorious boost in public awareness.

The nurse compassionately educates him about U=U and PrEP, as well as advising practicing safer sex and getting regularly tested, in a sequence praised as ‘amazing’ by HIV charity Terence Higgins Trust, and lauded by activists who said it had done ‘more to increase understanding of HIV advancements in 30 seconds than most schools achieve in years.’

We should never forget the horrific losses caused by the AIDS crisis. But together with other recent programmes like Russell T Davies’ It’s A Sin – which prompted 8,200 HIV testing kits to be ordered in a single day from Terence Higgins; their previous record was just 2,800 – Sex Education is helping to bury those outdated ‘tombstone’ associations, and replace them with today’s happier truths.


The big, bold, double-underlined-and-highlighted headline at the very top of Sex Education’s text book is that it’s vital for us all to talk more about sex, relationships et al; to have honest, constructive conversations with friends, lovers, health professionals, therapists, and ourselves. Trying to hide questions and problems of this nature under a carpet of silence only creates ominous lumps that repeatedly trip up and damage us (and as one character discovers in the final season, nobody wants an ominous lump…).

The series never makes out that talking is a total and instant catch-all solution for every issue, however. After initially refusing a prescription because she believes she should be strong enough to joust away debilitating post-partum depression with the blunt lance of willpower alone, Jean accepts in her closing scenes that anti-depressants are the leg-up she needs to help ride things out. To process trauma and take back her power following a sexual assault, Aimee tries a whole host of therapeutic tools on a ‘healing journey’ that includes channelling her emotions into art, masturbating to reclaim her sensuality, and journaling, as well as speaking with specialists.

Sex Education teaches that ‘getting help’ has many different valid forms; and ‘feeling better’ sometimes looks like confronting and coping with a challenge over time, rather than expecting to completely conjure it neatly away.

It also shows that the most sage, capable, ‘together’ Jean Milburns amongst us can fall apart - and there’s no dishonour either in being down, or harnessing whatever assistance we need to get back up again.

If you need support with any of the issues raised in Sex Education, Netflix provide links to a host of specialist resources at WannaTalkAboutIt.com.

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