When Sex Education—Netflix’s highly binge-worthy comedy about, you guessed it, sex and relationships—premiered last year, it was such a hit that the streaming service says more than 40 million households watched it within the first four weeks. Naturally, a season two had to happen, and it finally premieres today, January 17. Yes, Sex Education is back for an eight-episode run that’s even funnier and more awkward than the last.
“There were a lot of elements for season one that we loved, but when we came into season two, we really tried to empower all the different departments across the show—from wardrobe to the script department—to be as bold as possible,” executive producer Jaime Campbell tells Glamour. “I think that’s reflected.”
Campbell points to more air time for the adults as one way the show will be expanded this season. You’ll see more of Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson) and her relationship with Jakob (Mikael Persbrandt), and Mr. and Mrs. Groff’s relationship (Alistair Petrie and Samantha Spiro) will “come under more scrutiny,” according to Campbell. That’s a good thing, the producer adds, because “in a show like this, you can often forget the adults and how incompetent they are. We’re really doubling down on their incompetence this season.”
It’s a development the younger cast is happy about too. Patricia Allison, who plays Ola, Otis’s girlfriend, thinks it’s important to feature the sex lives of the parents. “I don’t think we get to see enough of that,” she says. “Older women who get to actually be like, ‘This is what I want.’” One example of how that plays out: Mrs. Groff, the headmaster’s wife and Adam’s mother, will start her own journey of self-discovery. “She’s in this kind of loveless marriage and feels like she doesn’t have a voice in it,” Allison says, “but then she forms a really lovely friendship with Jean and goes to a vagina workshop which allows her to explore her own sexuality.”
While we loved season one of Sex Education for shedding a light on topics that are usually glossed over on other shows (masturbation and the female orgasm, just to start), season two will go even further. “Our creator and writer, Laurie Nunn, came up with an explosive storyline that has two particular female characters intersect, and I think fans are going to absolutely love it,” Campbell says. As to which two characters Campbell is talking about, Netflix has that plot development on its do-not-spoil list, so mum’s the word for now.
That said, we do know that Aimee Lou Wood’s character, Aimee Gibbs, has a new challenge this season. (And we’re all for it—high praise for that masturbation episode last season.) “Something happens to her that she tries to brush off, but it takes her closest friends rallying around her to say, ‘Actually, you need to take this more seriously, and we’re going to help you,’” Campbell says. “There’s a real truthfulness the way that story unfolds. In the first few cuts of it I’ve seen, it had me crying both times.”
In fact, each character gets a deeper storyline this year. Swim jock Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) goes through a transformation following his breakup with Maeve (Emma Mackey). “We’ll see more of his journey with his moms, and the pressure he’s under to live up to their dreams for him. He’s coming into his own,” Williams-Sterling tells me. “And with that, I think there”s a lot more respect than they might give him because they”re seeing him as more of an adult.” He also forms an unlikely friendship that leads to some of the funniest and heartwarming scenes this season (Shakespeare may or may not be involved).
The same is true for Ncuti Gatwa’s Eric, who is coming into the new year a stronger, more self-assured version of himself following his assault last season. “We saw him dim his lights and try to fit in with his surroundings, but that didn’t work, so [thankfully] he came back more fabulous than ever,” Gatwa says. “Season two will be a continuation of that, with Eric discovering what makes him happy and also his self-worth.” While Gatwa can’t say too much about Eric’s love life, he does tease that there’s a new love interest—in the form of a new addition to Moordale Secondary—but there’s still unresolved feelings for Adam Groff, who’s currently away at boarding school.
Of course, the relationship that everyone wants front and center is the one that is the most delicate: Maeve and Otis (Asa Butterfield). “I think everyone wants to see them work out, including me,” Campbell says. “But whether they will or not...I’m not sure how. They would have to go on such a big journey together.”
Plus, Otis is with Ola. “We get to really explore their relationship and see what they’re like together as people and see the positive and negatives of that,” Allison says. “They have some nice moments together, which is beautiful.”
Butterfield agrees. “He’s had this kind of sexual awakening, which we saw at the end of last season,” he says. “Now he’s learning a lot about himself, which is a whole other journey. It will be interesting and sometimes painful to watch, but it’s all part of [growing up].”
While Otis and Ola—and not Otis and Maeve—are probably the better fit for each other at this point, that hasn’t stopped fans from hoping the two will eventually act on their chemistry. Still, Butterfield isn’t sure a romance is meant to be. “They really get each other and understand each other in a way other people don’t,” Butterfield says. “They’ve got an amazing chemistry, and there’s a spark between them, but I don’t think Otis is yet experienced or ready for a relationship with someone like Maeve. She’s so fiery and strong. I think he’s got to build some confidence in himself before he’s ready for that. But that’s what this season’s about, him discovering that part of him.”
Sex Education season two is now streaming on Netflix. Jessica Radloff is the Glamour West Coast editor. You can follow her on Instagram here to see photos from her visit to the set.
Originally Appeared on Glamour