“I really hope LGBTQIA viewers feel their authentic stories and lived experiences are represented onscreen”
BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY NETFLIX
Since premiering in January 2019, Sex Education has become one of Netflix’s biggest shows. And it has also received great praise for the LGBTQIA representation it has provided. The hotly anticipated final season was released today and it’s provided even more glorious representation this time around.
I spoke with director Alyssa McClelland ahead of the launch of the finale about the LGBTQIA storylines. Here’s what she had to say…
DIVA: Sex Education opens up a lot of dialogue in the home between young people who watch it and their parents. What conversations do you hope are sparked from this season?
Alyssa: There are so many big themes this season! Hopefully chats about death, religion, mental health, sexual and physical abuse, bullying, identity, anxiety, ableism and the trans experience. Our parent characters have big arcs and I also hope that promotes more conversation and empathy from children towards their parent’s own experiences.
This season is queerer than ever. What do you hope LGBTQIA viewers take away from watching?
I really hope LGBTQIA viewers feel their authentic stories and lived experiences are represented onscreen. That was hugely important to the whole team.
Cal’s storyline this season is very moving. What was important to you when working on this?
This was such a delicate storyline, so monumental. I wanted to ensure that Dua [Saleh] felt held through the process as it was a very challenging and isolating storyline. I think what was most important within the narrative was showing how Cal’s friends and family are there for them, no matter what.
I loved the trans representation this time around. I’m sure it is going to change the game for trans rep onscreen. We get to see both the struggles that come with being trans, as well as moments of trans joy. How did you navigate getting the balance right?
I worked very closely with our trans cast who are so open, they live their truth in every moment. Their energy drove me. I also spoke to trans consultants and a trans intimacy coordinator to ensure we were bringing authenticity and heart to the scenes. And reading lots of interviews – thanks to your magazine – and books. The balance of joy and pain is the constant tonal dance in my episodes, and it was really about digging down into the truth of the experience in each scene and finding the light in there among the pain.
The show has had many iconic sex scenes over the four seasons. But the T4T sex scene was so impactful for me, and I realised I hadn’t seen one onscreen before. What was important to you when directing this?
This is a really special scene for me so I’m glad you say that. As I hung out with Ant [Anthony Lexa] and Felix [Mufti] in preparation for my block we were discussing that we’d never seen a raw, intimate T4T sex scene onscreen. This lingered with me after our chat.
Sex Education has always been about breaking new grounds in exploring sex and the information we have about it. So I went to Laurie [Nunn] saying I think we have an opportunity here to craft something beautiful and groundbreaking as a culmination of our trans character’s intimacy issue storyline and she was immediately on board. Then I set about working with Ant and Felix to create a scene that was honest and intimate. They were both such rockstars, so open, so passionate about the scene and we all took that energy on. We collaborated with a wonderful trans intimacy coordinator, Tig (Tigger Blaize), to move through the choreography of the moment. I’m really proud of this scene.
Sex Education has always touched on so many different lived experiences. I was ready to send you my therapy bills during the last four episodes, but then it came to a beautiful cathartic end and was very healing. How do you hope this final season impacts people who resonate with these characters?
There’s a lot going down for each of our characters this season. But Laurie has this beautiful way of finding the light in each journey without storylines feeling too perfectly tied up in a bow.
What I really wanted to show in my episodes, particularly the final episode, is the beauty in imperfection and the beauty in endings. Our beloved Sex Education characters are not perfect, humans are messy, people leave, and life can be painful and challenging but there is such courage, power and heart within each individual. Audiences can see the strength that Moordale has imbued in each character, the friendships that have galvanised them. We’ve watched them grow up and it’s really beautiful.
Sex Education season four is available to stream on Netflix.
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