TV

Why Gillian Anderson in Sex Education on Netflix is the female hero we need right now

She plays the quirky, overbearing relationship therapist in Sex Education that we can't get enough of. Here's why she should be your new girl crush.

By Rebecca Sullivan
Having a girl crush on Gillian Anderson isn't very original, we know, but our obsession with the acclaimed British actress isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
While she is famous for her role as Scully on The X-Files with Dave Duchovny, and more recently in The Fall, it's her latest role as a sex and relationship therapist in Netflix's charming new series Sex Education that is introducing 50-year-old Anderson to a new generation of fans.
Here's why we can't get enough of her character Jean in Sex Education.

She's not afraid to talk about sex openly and honestly

Sex therapist jean and her adorably nerdy son Otis. (Image: Netflix)
Jean is a very practical, no-nonsense kind of lady who is straight talking and gets right to the point.
While that makes her very good at her job as a sex therapist, it makes her 16-year-old son Otis very uncomfortable.
She speaks with her teenage son about sex in the same manner most of us would chat about the weather.
"I've noticed you've been pretending to masturbate, and I was wondering if you wanted to talk about it," Jean cheekily asks Otis in episode one, after realising he is struggling to do what most teenage boys find perfectly easy.
While it might be a little unconventional, it's awesome to hear sex spoken about openly and not in hushed tones, using weird euphemisms.
"I guess my favorite thing about Jean is how inappropriate she is because it's just so much fun to do that," Anderson told E! about her character.
"It's so much fun to be that mum who listens at the door and then pretends to be straightening up a picture on the wall, so I think probably that element of her."
Anderson has sons of her own and says she could relate to her character trying to negotiate talking about sex with her child.
"It's universally awkward no matter who you're talking to, even if your mother is a sex therapist. It's something you just don't want to talk to your parents about," Anderson said.
"On the other hand, I don't think that my kids would roll their eyes or try to run in the other direction any less than Otis does. I think all kids, to a certain point, it's almost like a rite of passage to be able to find your parents cringe-worthy."

She has no-strings-attached sex with lots of younger men

Jean has an awesomely healthy attitude to casual sex, and it's ashamed of it! (Image: Netflix)
The running joke in Sex Education is that the recently divorced Jean has the completely opposite attitude towards sex compared to her teenage son, who is a virgin.
Jean has loads of sex with lots of different men, and she doesn't form emotional attachments.
She's not interested in getting into a long term romantic relationship and communicates this very clearly to the men that she sleeps with.
No longer of childbearing age, the sex is clearly purely for physical pleasure.
Anderson is used to playing women like this. Her character in The Fall, a police detective, has a similar attitude towards sex.
Speaking of the public's reaction to female characters who have sex like Jean, Anderson said: "It was so unusual for a woman to be that liberated, that comfortable with her own sexuality, that she could do something like that," she told Vanity Fair
"That should be the norm. What the hell? Why don't we see that more often?" she said.

She has the best on-screen style

One of Jean's many chic jumpsuits. (Image: Netflix)
Jean gets around in either a very chic jumpsuit, or a beautiful bathrobe.
The jumpsuits give her character an air of practicality and a bit of no-nonsense vibe, while also being incredibly stylish.
Anderson's normally long and golden blonde hair has been cut into a chic pixie cut and died a light platinum blonde.
It's a haircut that's a bit more appropriate for mother character and makes the viewer believe that Jean really is the same age as Anderson, with a teenage son.

She has the best fiery one-liners

When Jean puts on her glasses, you know she means business. (Image: Netflix)
The show's writers have given Anderson some incredible hilarious one-liners, and she delivers Jean's clapbacks perfectly, in her signature deadpan voice.
For example, when Jean is asked on a date by a potential suitor she is completely disinterested in, she doesn't beat around the bush. Instead, she replied: "Well I'm about to teach a vagina workshop, so no".
She is similarly matter-of-fact with her therapy patients. She opens one psychology appointment by simply asking her patient, "Why don't you start by telling me the earliest memory of your scrotum?"
But her best line by far is reserved for her son Otis. During a screaming match between the pair, she claps back at her whingeing son by yelling, "It was f---ing funny when I pushed you out of my vagina either!"
Hilarious!