The truth (about sex) is out there.
X-Files star and fan favorite Gillian Anderson returns to the small screen Jan. 11 with her new Netflix series Sex Education, opposite Asa Butterfield (Hugo). Anderson portrays Jean Milburn, a sex therapist who is the mother to awkward teenager Otis (Butterfield).
Netflix describes the eight-episode series as a “modern portrayal of sexual and romantic experiences, friendships, and contemporary young-adult life.” Set in the fictional English town of Moordale, the series follows 16-year-old Otis, a thoughtful but gawky high school student who is surrounded by manuals, videos, and outrageously frank conversations about sex in his home life thanks to his mother’s profession. When Otis’ home life is exposed at school, he decides to use his inside knowledge to help gain popularity, setting up an underground sex therapy clinic at school alongside bad-girl Maeve (Emma Mackey). Along the way, Otis realizes he might just be in need of some therapy himself.
Written by Laurie Nunn and shot in Wales, the series also features Ncuti Gatwa, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Aimee-Lou Wood and Connor Swindells.
EW can exclusively share the first images of the series, showcasing Butterfield and Anderson in character, as well as many of the other main players. Check them out below, alongside character descriptions for the core cast.
Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield): “Otis is the only child of two sex therapists, Jean and Remi. Now his parents are divorced, he lives with Jean and has grown up listening to her home-office therapy sessions through cracks in his floorboards. This overexposure, combined with the early trauma of walking in on his dad, Remi, cheating on Jean with a therapy client, have given Otis a phobia of his own sexuality. Blessed with the gift of intuitive sexual understanding, cursed with the inability to do anything about it. His incredible breadth of knowledge about human sexuality is both his super-power and his kryptonite. Then Otis comes to the attention of Maeve, who changes his outlook on sex forever.”
Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson): “Jean Milburn is funny, observant, and always larger than life. She is fiercely independent and has no filter when it comes to interrogating people about their personal lives, which makes her a brilliant sex therapist. She lives at home with her only son, Otis. She and her ex-husband, Remi, another sex therapist, have little to do with each other unless it involves Otis’ welfare. Early on, she made a decision to never shield Otis from anything and to always speak to him like an adult. As Otis has got older and more sexually repressed, she worries that some of these parenting decisions may have backfired.”
Eric Nevin (Ncuti Gatwa): “Eric is Otis’s best friend, and they tell each other everything. A motormouth who is comfortably gay and out of the closet, but notoriously lame. At home, Eric has five sisters and strict, religious parents. His father has accepted that Eric is gay, but worries about the world Eric is growing up in.”
Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey): “Maeve is the scary bad-girl in school. Her outward persona disguises a whip-smart intellect and a wicked sense of humor that she reserves only for those closest to her. Maeve lives alone in a caravan she can barely afford; she has to think of ingenious ways to pay the bills, including running an essay-writing business and inventing the sex clinic with Otis. Maeve doesn’t know her dad, and her mum is an addict. Her dream is to get a scholarship to a good university, but everything is working against her achieving this.”
Jackson Monroe (Kedar Williams-Stirling): “Jackson has never failed at anything in his life. He’s popular, crazy-hot, and a future Olympic swimming champion. He is the child of same-sex parents. He is under increasing pressure to give up his social life to maintain his burgeoning swimming career. Where Otis is capable of connecting with Maeve on an emotional level but cannot give her sex, Jackson and Maeve have great sex but he cannot give her the intimacy she needs.”
Aimee Gibbs (Aimee-Lou Wood): “Aimee is part of cool clan ‘The Untouchables’ (although they don’t treat her very well) and girlfriend to Adam (although she finds him embarrassing). She’s usually the one that has to carry the other popular girls’ bags, pay for their drinks, and make sure they get home safely after a party. She is also secretly best friends with Maeve, but don’t tell the Untouchables. She is a people pleaser with a heart of gold, who just wants to get through school unscathed.”
Adam Groff (Connor Swindells): “Adam is the school bad-boy with a rage problem. Adam’s father is the school Headmaster, Mr. Groff, who frequently threatens to send his son to military school. Adam has been bullying Eric ever since they started secondary school, and despite Eric’s hopes that their relationship might change for the better, Adam shows no sign of letting up any time soon. There is a rumour that Adam has a giant penis. This is 100 percent true.”
Sex Education launches Jan. 11 on Netflix.