12 very British references in Sex Education that Americans won’t understand

The new Netflix teen comedy features a lot of British brand names and euphemisms for body parts, but what does it all mean?

Sex Education Season 1 (Netflix)

Netflix’s new teen comedy Sex Education may be packed with Americanisms despite being set in a British sixth-form college, but as the show’s director Ben Taylor said, the show has “American influence, but British ingredients”.

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One major British ingredient is the script, created by screenwriter Laurie Nunn. It is bursting with British terms, slang and references, much of which has left American viewers a little… confused.

Here’s a handy primer, just to get you started. Have we missed any?


1. Butlins

(Getty)

“I gave two and a half hand jobs to that guy I met in Butlins,” Maeve declares early in Sex Education. Ah, young love.

FYI, Butlins is a chain of large, increasingly retro seaside resorts in the UK.

2. “Christ on a bike”

An exclamation indicating surprise or shock.

3. Cretin

Sex Education (Netflix screenshot)

Maeve gives a damning review of Amy’s house party when she says it’s “crawling with cretins”.

A cretin is a stupid person, not to be confused with “crouton”, which goes in salad.

4. Curly Wurly

Sex Education (Netflix)

Adam steals Eric’s Curly Wurly, mangles it into a small cone shape and menacingly swallows it whole.

But what on earth IS a Curly Wurly?!

It’s a chocolate bar which consists of “a swirly ladder of golden caramel” covered in milk chocolate, of course.

5. Fiesta magazine

(Getty)

The magazine that Otis tries to masturbate to is a British soft-core pornographic magazine popular in the 1960s called Fiesta.

6. Knob

knob

A knob can be more than just a door handle: it can be a penis.

7. Loo

Sex Education Season 1 (Netflix)

A loo is a toilet, which happens to be the location of one of Otis’s first therapy sessions.

8. Minge

Adam is perplexed when he spots a minge-ish painting on the wall of Otis’s living room.

9. Monged

Sex Education (Netflix)

“Do you wanna get monged?” Adam asks Otis as he offers him some of his spliff. (To be monged is to be under the influence of drugs, usually weed.)

Even though Otis refuses, Jean later obliges and gets monged with Adam.

10. Shag

shag

To shag means to have sex, a term popularised by official don’t-you-dare-say-he’s-played-by-a-Canadian British national treasure Austin Powers. Shagadelic baby!

11. Spunk

Sex Education (Netflix)

Spunk is another word for semen, but we really prefer Jean’s suggestion of “man milk”.

12. Wotsits

Sex Education (Netflix)

When Maeve meets Otis and Eric at Amy’s party, she tells Eric he looks “like a Wotsit”.

AKA very orange, like the brand of cheese-flavoured corn puff crisps not dissimilar to Cheetos.

You’re welcome.

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Sex Education is available now on Netflix