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Sex Education Season Two: We’ve Seen Sexual Assault on TV Before—But Never Like This

She continues, “Unless it is rape, [many of us] feel like we can’t really talk about it or that we have to take it in our stride and even laugh about it. We’ve turned them into little funny anecdotes rather than actually dealing with the fact that might have traumatized us on some level.” It’s like society has given us a hierarchy of sexual assault, she explains. “If you’re somewhere near the top then it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s OK. You’re allowed to be upset by this one.’ But anything lower you feel like maybe you’re a bit of a drama queen.”

TV shows have shown sexual assault before, of course, but this Sex Education storyline is new: Rarely does a series take an incident that isn’t rape and spend so much time over the course of a season unraveling the emotional layers that follow. Aimee’s experience isn’t relegated to a one-episode arc. Instead, the whole rest of the season checks in on her well-being and healing after the incident. It sends a clear message: Whatever the circumstances, any sexual assault is traumatic.

“It’s about what happens when you suppress that trauma and you don’t deal with it,” Wood says. “And it’s about women coming together and being that support system as Maeve, Ola, and many of the others do for Aimee at the end. Sometimes you need people to give weight to your problems and to give you permission to feel the damage of something. Sometimes you just need someone to go, ‘You’re allowed to feel shit about this.'”

Sam Taylor/Netflix

The way that Aimee’s boyfriend, Steve, responds is also key. She has trouble being intimate with him—even cuddling is hard—but he never pressures her and invites her to open up when she’s ready, on her terms. That support only makes their relationship stronger, Wood says.

“Even though it’s such an unfortunate way to grow, it’s a huge turning point in her life,” she explains. “Much like what she learnt in season one by taking ownership of her body and that masturbation montage, this does the same, even though it stems from an awful situation. She becomes so much more empowered because of it…but it takes a long time.”

After season one, Wood says women would often come up to her to talk about the female orgasm and masturbation. Now, she’s ready to hear from women who have buried their own trauma. “I’m so grateful we’re telling this story,” she says. “The conversations that I’ve had with young women is just so incredible. I’ve had so many conversations, even with my friends, that I would never have had if not for this show. We never spoke about [these things]. And now we do.”

Season two of Sex Education is now streaming on Netflix. Jessica Radloff is the Glamour West Coast editor.

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