The Best Gillian Anderson Series Role Isn’t In The X-Files, Stream On Netflix Now

By Shanna Mathews-Mendez | Updated

sex education netflix gillian anderson

Sex Education is one of the best series to stream right now. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s funny, and it’s… educational? Even better, it is the best Gillian Anderson role you’ll see, and obviously, she’s got some great ones. 

Gillian Anderson Is A Sex Therapist

sex education

I grew up watching The X-Files, which premiered on Fox in 1993. It was one of my favorite shows, and up until recently, I thought it was the best thing that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson could ever do in their careers. Then my sister talked me into watching Sex Education on Netflix, ostensibly a show about teenagers having sex. Why on earth would I want to watch that? Turns out, it’s so much more than that trite explanation can hope to relay. 

A British Teen Comedy

Sex Education is a teen comedy set in a small town in England that centers around a teenage boy, Otis Milburn (played by Asa Butterfield), through the most awkward possible time of his life. You see, Otis’ mother, Jean Milburn (Anderson), is a sex therapist who has numerous sexual affairs with men but has no interest in forming a relationship with any of them.

Direct And Unemotional

Like I said, it’s the best Gillian Anderson role. Otis, in the beginning, is quite flippant about it all, as he and his mother live alone in a sprawling house in the countryside. 

Jean speaks quite freely to her son about sex, offering advice on all things from masturbation to finding a girlfriend. She is plainspoken, direct, and seemingly unemotional about it all. Otis takes it all in stride for the most part until he finds himself acting as a sex therapist himself at school.

A Money-Making Scheme

At first, Otis is quiet and keeps to himself, hanging out in his free time with his outwardly gay best friend, Eric (played beautifully by Ncuti Gatwa). What makes this the best Gillian Anderson role is that Jean continues to find herself at the center of her son’s drama. 

Otis and Eric befriend the super cool Maeve (Emma Mackey), a girl from a trailer park who smokes, is having an affair with the star football player, Jackson, and seems to have zero interest in what anyone else says about her. Maeve, upon discovering how good Otis is at giving advice about sex, conceives of the idea of charging their classmates for sex therapy in an abandoned bathroom on campus.

Over The Top But Reflective Of Life As A Teenager

This story is the best fictionalization of the realities that teenagers, faculty, and parents all deal with at this point in their lives, and Gillian Anderson’s character is the reason behind it all. 

Over four seasons, we watch various couples in the series struggle with sexual issues that range from premature ejaculation to fear of intimacy, and no one goes untouched.

The adults and high school kids must all face their preconceived notions about sex, sexuality, and sexual orientation, making this show progressive and educational all at the same time. And this is all achieved in the best, most entertaining, most engaging ways by Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson as grown-up and not-quite-grown sex therapists.  

Available Only On Netflix


The story’s arc is perfectly done, the acting is spectacular, and the issues are interesting. Just be prepared for a lot, and I do mean a lot, of sex. The show is, after all, called Sex Education. The last season was a bit over the top, even for me, but I know there are audiences out there who would love even that level of wackiness. Stream it on Netflix the next chance you get.