TV

Sex Education Fans Need to Watch BBC Three’s Boarders


Missing the Netflix show? From the creator of Timewasters, British teen race comedy-drama Boarders is funny, shrewd and worth your time.

The cast of BBC Three comedy-drama Boarders in school uniforms
Photo: BBC Three

As an over-40 on the Gen X/Millennial cusp (I’m Generation Catalano, for census purposes), modern teenagers unsettle me. On screen. On buses. On the street with their midriff out and no coat on. I feel a powerful urge both to protect them and for them to stay 100 metres away from me at all times. Watching modern teen TV as a non-teen feels suspect, like eating Farleys Rusks with a full set of adult teeth.

Watching BBC Three comedy-drama Boarders then, which is set at the sixth form of a swanky English private school, I was primed to feel like a chaperone at a prom – unwelcome, uncomfortable and wishing to God there was a bar. What I actually felt was joy.

Created by Timewasters’ Daniel Lawrence Taylor and inspired by a news article about a swanky, majority-white UK boarding school offering scholarship places to clever young Black students from underprivileged backgrounds, Boarders is shrewd, funny and well-cast. It’s Sex Education but recognisably British rather than weirdly transatlantic, Never Have I Ever with less gloss, Heartstopper but less innocent, Skins without the doom.

Boarders channels the best teen comedy-dramas and does it to talk about race. Not in a sharing-caring after-school-special way, but in a clear-eyed ‘this is 2024, everybody’s seen Get Out and has a take on the Colston statue, and this is where we’re at’ way. Crucially, it talks about race with more than one Black character from more than one background, so that a range of individual Black experiences can be explored without a single role having to say everything.

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