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Inside the emotional scene 'Sex Education's' creator wrote to face her own sexual assault

Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

The set piece ends on a close-up of a misty-eyed Aimee, sandwiched and smiling among her peers at the back of the bus.

"It was written in the script that the last shot was Aimee's face, and the line was something like, 'She looks like she's almost in tears. She's still feeling terrible, but she also knows she's going to be OK,'" Nunn said.

"This is still a very raw and vulnerable and quite a sad moment, but she is going to move forward. And I think having the girls in that line ... feels like such a strong image to get that feeling across."

Before the premiere of Season 3, streaming Friday on Netflix, Nunn, Taylor, Ezeudu and Wood revisited the bus scene, which marks the beginning of Aimee's healing process. Here's how the standout moment came together.

Nunn presented Aimee's Season 2 character arc to the "Sex Education" writers room in September 2018. By February 2019, a draft of Episode 7 was complete.

Nunn: Every year, I bring in a skeleton for what types of stories I want to explore for each character, and I knew that this was the journey I wanted to take Aimee on. I realized that Aimee was a really interesting character to explore sexual assault with, because, before the sexual assault happens, she's this very bright, sunny, quite innocent character who goes through the world really seeing the best in people. And even though it's heartbreaking, she was the perfect character to put through that experience because you really get to see a character's worldview completely shift from before the event to after the event.

 

It wasn't until after the writers room that I got into the writing of Episode 7, because that was one of the episodes I wrote from scratch, and it really did just happen in an organic way, knowing that I wanted to bring all the female characters together, and I wanted to get Aimee to understand that even though this thing that has happened to her is completely abhorrent and should never have happened, it's also really sadly a very common experience for a lot of women.

Taylor: Coming at it from the point of view of a male director, I was like, "OK, well, that's Laurie's story, and we're telling a version of that." It wasn't until I then started producing the series, and that storyline particularly, that I was very quickly educated how it was specific to Laurie but incredibly relevant and resonant for almost all the female cast on the show. So it immediately brought out a lot of discussion, probably more than any other subject or storyline we'd done before.

Nunn: The main point of discussion was about keeping Amy in a more passive state throughout the series and not having her come to the catharsis, or the resolution, until Episode 7 and Episode 8. This is the first time something like that has happened to her, and she genuinely doesn't know whether she's allowed to feel awful about it. She's like, "Well, I wasn't hurt. I wasn't raped. So why am I feeling so awful, and why am I feeling like nothing is right in my body?" That was the hardest part, trying to get back into her headspace and understand that was very much a process for her.

None of these girls really are friends. They don't really have a lot in common, but they understand that Aimee needs their help and their support in this moment, and it felt cathartic to have Maeve say, "I understand that you're finding this hard, but I'm gonna hold your hand, and we're going to get over this together." And Aimee just feels really seen in that moment. On the surface, it's just a stupid bus, but obviously, to Aimee, it's not a stupid bus. But we're all going to sit in that discomfort together and be there for each other. In some ways, it's a bit of a fantasy, but it made me feel a little bit less alone.

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