Netflix Original Sex Education is re-writing the rules of sex ed, while making diversity a priority. Season two newcomer George Robinson talks disability representation and why the show’s themes resonate with him.
Released in January 2020, season two of Sex Education took viewers further from the regimented sex ed they received in school with a diverse, talented cast to front the series. It also introduced the world to George Robinson who plays Isaac: a teen with a spinal cord injury who is new to the Moordale caravan park and ready to cause mischief.
Since his early teens George had a passion for acting, involved in school plays and thriving in drama class. But, after sustaining a spinal cord injury at the C4/C5 level during a rugby game when he was 17, George had to consider if he still wanted to pursue a career in acting.
“Even though you’re playing a character and presenting yourself as that character, did I want to put myself in the public sphere as a disabled actor or a guy in a wheelchair?” asks George. “I thought yeah, I might as well – I never wanted to lose the feeling of having a good time on stage, acting, learning lines, I always found the whole process incredibly exciting.”
Now 22, George has landed his first major acting role in Netflix Original, Sex Education – which has made waves in terms of representation, and answering all the burning questions we all have as teenagers when it comes to sex.
Charmingly sarcastic and unembarrassed, Isaac and his distinctive personality haven’t changed much for George, although he notes that he now has a lot more meetings to attend.
“Simultaneously a lot has changed while nothing has, I’m still me, I still exist in the same format as before but more people have seen my face and heard my name,” explains George.
After reading the character description for Isaac, George knew he was the perfect fit. During the casting process one detail stood out: the casting of a disabled actor in a disabled role, with the intention to adapt the script to that individual’s disability. This attitude is something George wants to see more of in mainstream media.
“At the end of the day Isaac isn’t defined by his disability,” emphasises George. “Let’s say they cast a person who is an amputee, he would still be sarcastic, still be the person that makes waves in the campsite.”
Sex Education represents many different groups in society with its diverse cast, but it’s something George wants to see a push for in other TV programmes and movies in order to show people that they are not alone.
“It’s definitely getting there, people like myself who are being thrust into the spotlight is making people aware that actors are out there with these stories,” explains George.
“I think you’ve got these stories that need to be told that people don’t know about because there’s been a lack of representation in the media, so people don’t know if they’re normal.”
Since the show became available to stream on 17 January of this year, George has received messages from viewers, all expressing their hope at seeing a disabled character authentically portrayed in such a popular show.
On screen, George sees a lot of his own personality in Isaac, but he does like to think that he’s a bit nicer and a little less sharp around the edges.
“I think I’ve got a similar method of deflection that Isaac has and that’s an issue that I’m trying to work on within myself, to be straightforward and tackle things head on instead of deflecting more,” reveals George.
The character has prompted him to build his self-confidence in more ways than one, George says: “I think it’s taught me to be a bit more comfortable within myself and the fact that if people can’t take me for who I am, well Isaac is totally fine with that and I really aspire to get to that level of self-confidence.
“It’s really helped me get towards that; I have a lot of love for Isaac.”
With Sex Education’s wit and humour, it’s easy to forget that the show is doing what its title describes for so many young people: answering their questions on sex and healthy relationships.
For George, this is part of the show’s success and charm, he enthuses: “It’s so straight to the point and not afraid of being like we’re going to explore this and this about sex.
“It’s something we all share and all participate in, but it has always felt like everyone is navigating it themselves, to have it explored through a TV show, largely on exploring stuff considered taboo, is incredibly refreshing actually.”
As for Isaac’s relationship with Maeve Wiley (played by Emma Mackey), one of the show’s most-loved characters, George would like to see them share more about their similar childhood experiences and grow even closer than seen in season two.
“I think Maeve can possibly dull Isaac’s sharp edges,” hopes George. “Maeve and Isaac together would be really beneficial for Isaac in terms of lowering his guard which always seems to be up.”
Season two gave viewers a peek of what could be around the corner in terms of exploring relationships and intimacy as a young disabled person. With season three recently confirmed, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we get to see George and Isaac grow in confidence on screen, form meaningful relationships and explore sex with a disability on the world’s most popular streaming service.
You can stream Sex Education on Netflix now.