There is a lot to love about Netflix’s new series Sex Education. The British teen show is startlingly explicit while still being sensitive about the kind of highs and lows that a diverse mix of kids face in high school.
It’s genuinely funny, almost confusingly colourful, and actually emotionally resonant where it wants to be.
There is a lot to love about the show, but above all else, there is Eric.
we must protect eric from
sex education at all costs 🎺 pic.twitter.com/1sx0Gawhgz
— Netflix UK & Ireland (@NetflixUK) January 14, 2019
Eric is our main character’s gay black best friend, without falling into the shallow tropes too-often allotted to the gay black best friend. He is not a caricature, and he has quickly become the favourite character of the vast majority of people who have watched the show.
For good reason. Eric is a fabulous angel.
Wow #SexEducation really gave us the most layered and complex characterization of a gay teen of color!! He wasn’t there for comedy relief or for tokenism. He had his own storyline and grew into this BEAUTIFUL, FIERCE, and joy-spreading angel
WE MUST PROTECT ERIC AT ALL COSTS. pic.twitter.com/VBXnkiCRud
— ✨ (i love you 3000) (@wiiissssss) January 13, 2019
A big part of why we’re all so drawn to Eric Effiong, is the sheer star power of Ncuti Gatwa. Gatwa is essentially a newcomer to the screen and his irresistible charisma makes the magnetic centre of every scene.
As a character, Eric is entirely likeable and extremely necessary to feature. His narrative has heart and hardship, and it’s one that we haven’t seen play out nearly enough in TV or movies.
He’s an apologetically ‘out’ teen, he’s from a family of black, church-going immigrants who transcend the typical aggressively-conservative stereotype, he’s confident, and he’s just very complex.
It shouldn’t be rare to see characters like Eric, but so far it is, and it’s exciting. Hopefully we will get a lot more of them.
— Strong Black Lead (@strongblacklead) January 15, 2019
In an interview with Paper Magazine, Ncuti Gatwa discussed what makes his character and that story line so important.
“First and foremost, what I love about that storyline is that it’s not that classic coming out story. Eric is out, and everybody knows he’s gay, and it’s what happens after he came out.” he said.
“When you’re a minority within a minority, and you’re starting to realize ‘The world’s not going to love me as much as it loves my white friend, or my straight friend.’ It’s tricky.”
The support Eric's dad, a black man gives his gay son in Netflix's Sex Education is a great representation of how black fathers should be. pic.twitter.com/KbhkgahlSB
— c (@chuuzus) January 20, 2019
It’s honestly such a delight to see Eric’s big personality emboldened on screen, and it’s heartbreaking to watch him be treated poorly by people with prejudice, and the people he loves.
Episode five is particularly hard to watch as Eric is left vulnerable after being let down by his best friend Otis, on his birthday no less. At least the way that the show deals with the fall out from the trauma that Eric experiences is nuanced and insightful.
Although, I think most people agree that Eric deserved better. From everyone.
the way eric acts after being attacked is…so relatable honestly. hes scared, hes hurt, and i remember feeling shame and hurt in similar ways. i love his character a lot, especially when he's selfish. this is abt sex education on netflix btw
— wish you werent so fuckin awkward bud (@funkyfreshfool) January 12, 2019
Between Eric’s bold, effeminate clothing, colourful make up, and big personality, there is so, so, much about this character that steals your heart.
We honestly can’t pray hard enough that we will get to see this character in a second season of Sex Education, and get more banana-sucking, eyeliner-werking, orange-wearing, fierceness from Ncuti Gatwa.