Scene Breakdown: Embracing the Niche in Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’

Sex Education Season 3.  Tanya Reynolds as Lily Iglehart in Episode 6 of Sex Education Season 3. Cr. Sam Taylor/NETFLIX © 2020 "Embracing the Niche"
Sex Education Season 3. Tanya Reynolds as Lily Iglehart in Episode 6 of Sex Education Season 3. Cr. Sam Taylor/NETFLIX © 2020

Like most characters, Lily Iglehart’s journey in finding herself and taking risks continues to be a prevalent storyline in Sex Education season three. But where she is shunned for her likes and dislikes, Lily dwells in a plethora of sadness before understanding the importance of embracing the niche.

At some point while growing up, most of us had posters on our walls, and someone has probably told us it’s time to take them off. It’s time to grow up. And at some point, we’ve all likely gotten sadden over that transition and the detail that people don’t understand us. That what if, in the real world, people don’t take us seriously because we have Harry Potter posters on our walls? As kids, we’re conditioned to believe that some things are temporary and forced to grow up while still under chains from our families and society.

We are controlled while we are told it’s time to step up.

It’s a fascinating juxtaposition really when you think about it. We stopped playing with barbies at some point because we were probably “too old” for them, but we started collecting pop funkos. And I’ll almost bet that the Lilys of the world are the nerdy girls and boys writing for pop culture right now. (Hi, yes, it is I.) Because at some point even if we took the posters down, we put them right back up in a different form. They stopped becoming toys and they started becoming collector’s items.

No one shuns someone for collecting vinyl records, or sports fans, but those of us who are science fiction fans or nerds in any way with representation of our niche in our homes get a lot of heat. I bet someone somewhere has side-eyed that to our face. If I had a dollar for every time I heard, aren’t you too old for this stuff, I wouldn’t have to work a day in my life. The number of times that people have been shamed for liking any sort of fantasy or science fiction is appalling, and the use of the word disgusting to express Lily’s writing is something that I imagine speaks to all of us. To call one’s writing disgusting is horrifying in a number of ways. It’s heartbreaking. It should have never been the case.

Lily’s journey in navigating through this change, the break from Ola and realizing that maybe she’s alone in everything brought on such masterful performances from Tanya Reynolds, my heart was in pieces. Watching her take down everything from her room felt like she was chipping away at all the parts of her that she loved most. Watching her box everything up and put it away probably shattered us all. But in the same way that this series wasn’t going to gloss over anyone’s journey of self-discovery, it allowed the audience to really get inside Lily’s headspace.

This process is part of the acceptance.

The dismantling is part of the future embrace.

Lily loves what she loves and for the longest time, she rightfully didn’t feel any shame for it. She embraced the niche, she dressed however she wanted to, she wrote whatever she wanted to. And then one day she was broken because of it. She was shamed for it and blamed for the issues at Moordale High.

Lily’s freedom of expression brought a dark cloud in her life and it shattered her.

Lily’s subtle embrace of the niche brought light and love back into her life.

There have been a number of advancements throughout the years and yet, not much has really changed. We still have to justify writing Fan Fiction and the fact that some of these stories are literary treasures yet to be discovered is a concept many refuse to accept. In fact, what Sex Education and Hope inadvertently does is showcase just how much is drawn from other pieces of fiction by forcing Lily to wear her own Scarlet Letter. And thus, through Lily’s journey, Sex Education season three focuses beautifully on embracing the niche.

She struggles through it as any human would, she questions herself, she questions those around her, but at the end of the day, she embraces the thing she loves whether or not people see it as well.

And that’s the point of all this, it’s to reiterate this idea that we might never get to a place in the world where people don’t question another’s likes or dislikes, but it’s up to us to embrace the niche we love and run with it. Lily Iglehart and everyone like her shouldn’t be shamed, they should be encouraged.

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