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Sex Education creators explain why the show looks like it's set in the 1980s

Sex Education creators explain why the show looks like it's set in the 1980s

As the final series airs, Sex Education creators Laurie Nunn and Ben Taylor reveal a surprising fact about the Netflix show.

As the final season of Sex Education hits our screens today (22 September), it's certainly going to be tough to say goodbye.

And despite the fourth season initially not intending to be the last, all good things must come to an end at some point - but it's still bittersweet.

Sex Education became an instant classic with audiences when it debuted on Netflix back in 2019, being widely praised for its frank treatment of sexuality and relationships as well as its refreshingly fun vibe.

Pumped full of bright colours and almost magical, swooping drone shots, the show guides us through the awkwardness of adolescence with a decidedly buoyant touch - softening the blow of wet dreams and hormone-fuelled punch-ups with varsity jackets and sunny bike rides through the woods.

The result is nothing short of an absolute delight to watch, though that's not to say it hasn't left some of us scratching our heads. Is it set in America or the UK? Are the characters from the present day or have we been transported back in time a few decades?

With 1980s fashions sitting alongside present-day mobile phones and many attributes of an American high school dropped right into the heart of rural south Wales where the show is filmed, it's almost jarring - but, as the creators explain, that's entirely intentional.

In an interview with LADbible back in 2021, writer Laurie Nunn and director Ben Taylor said the surreal, otherworldly aesthetic was not only intentional, but also integral to the show's narrative.

Referring to the stylised format, Nunn said: "I think part of that is just to do with the way I naturally write, but also a lot of my references were kind of from American film and TV shows that I loved when I was younger.

"When Ben came on board the project and we both met each other for the first time, he had a shared passion for all of the same American teen genre stuff, and we both got really excited about how we could create this fictional world that felt very elevated and aspirational."

But despite various references to teenage films of yesteryear - including a heartwarming ode to The Breakfast Club in season two - Nunn explained that there was much more to it than merely paying homage to John Hughes and co.

Sex Education's aesthetic has become an iconic part of the show.
Netflix

She continued: "I think the hook of the show is so heightened - you know, obviously about the teenager giving out sex advice in a toilet cubicle - but it really felt like that needed a heightened world to match that.

"In my mind Moordale is not a real place. Even though we shoot the show in Wales, it's very much a fictional place.

"We see it like a teenage utopia, and I like to think of it almost like a comic book world where these teenagers exist."

Agreeing, Taylor added: "It came early on when we all started to put our heads together.

"Everything was very deliberate and distinct because when I first read the script it read like a world that would not just benefit from it, but it would make sense of the characters and the high concept."

The show was also heavily inspired by nostalgic films of the 80s.
Netflix

Taylor also explained that they'd agreed the storyline wouldn't work if it was set within the same world as other UK-based school dramas like Grange Hill, which are more commonly associated with the fluorescent strip lights and dull, grey uniforms - and, more importantly, have tended to focus on the sheer misery of growing up.

He said: "If you put this storyline into Waterloo Road, everybody would just be rolling their eyes. It needed a take, and that was when we started to put our heads together and design the best world to tell these stories.

"For me was that we created a positive rendering of a school experience, which Americans tend to do incredibly naturally.

"I think we as a country tend not to - we tend to do more of a sort of strict, grey, less fun version.

"Even though Laurie's scripts were full of heartbreak and angst, I wanted to see it sort of rendered with warmth and beauty."

Fans are preparing to say goodbye to heart-warming show.
Netflix

This technicolour dream world would be something the duo built on, as Nunn explained how much she loved writing series - which has become a world-wide hit.

At the time of the interview, she'd been working on third series and said: "I've started writing series three, but that's just a very normal part of the process because we work on such tight schedule, and season three hasn't been greenlit yet or officially commissioned.

"We won't find out whether we get a series three until the end of January, so fingers crossed!"

The writer also revealed that she'd loved creating the world of the Netflix show, telling LADbible: "I love writing these characters. It's such a big ensemble and I think the theme of the show - in terms of it being about sex and relationships - it really just offers up endless story opportunities."

You can watch season 4 of Sex Education on Netflix today.

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

Topics: Netflix, Sex Education, TV and Film