The Cast of Sex Education on Instagram

Our Quirky Teens In Metrics

Ever since the premiere of Sex Education on Netflix early this year, no one has stopped talking about a new season. Netflix is known for their use of breakout stars in new originals, who quickly become talking points, brand ambassadors, and icons on social media. Take Millie Bobby Brown for example: while she made guest appearances on BBC and CBS in her childhood, she only rose to prominence after her debut as Eleven on Stranger Things. Similarly with Asa Butterfield of Sex Education. Some of you might recognize him from his lead role in the 2008 Holocaust film The Boy in Striped Pajamas, but he has since hit puberty, so no hard feelings if that particular performance escapes you.

What does our beloved cast look like on social media?

  1. First we have our main star: Otis Milburn. Played by the charming Asa Butterfield (@asabopp), Otis is an awkward teenage boy who falls into an unlikely friendship and extra-curricular arrangement.

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Here is a look at his follower growth from mid-2018 to end February 2019 (a month after the show premiered on Netflix). Although he already had a fair number of followers before the Netflix pilot (possibly owing to this other roles on TV and cinema) his follower count increased exponentially after Sex Education.  

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A post shared by Asa Butterfield (@asabopp) on

Butterfield’s top performing post. We all know why.

2. Next we have Otis’s right hand man: Eric Effiong who is played by the gorgeous Ncuti Gatwa (@ncutigatwa). Eric comes to school dressed to the nines and has been repeatedly praised for breaking out of the ‘black/gay best friend’ cycle. He commands a far more demanding presence than his straight white male counterpart, and not in a stereotypical way. Personally, Eric’s character arcs was one of my favourite. Let’s take a look at the love pre- and post-Sex Education.

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Gatwa was practically unknown before Sex Education. In fact, he didn’t even constitute enough followers to be registered in our system in mid-2018. His follower increase post-January, however, is recorded as 129% which is truly massive.

To be fair I was expecting his top post to be one of those impeccable (emphasis on pec) model shots, but this is cute and wholesome.

3. The pretty girl in the misfit trio. Maeve Wiley is played by Emma Mackey (@emmatmackey), and quickly became an icon for the ‘cool girl’. As Eric puts it in an early episode, she’s the kind of cool that the kids in school don’t even know yet.

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The growth rate of her number of followers is similar to Gatwa, though at a slightly slower rate of 101%. Similarly, Mackey was unknown before her role on Sex Education. One might say that at the time, she was the cool girl we didn’t know yet.

Here she gives us garden fairy vibes. And the ideal front facing image for anyone keen to do a face-swap.

4. Fourth up is my personal favourite character, Ola Nyman, played by Patricia Allison (@trishallison). A small, curly haired, edgy girl that Otis mistakenly compares to a goat, and then a house cat even though he is very much attracted to her.

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Again, I ran the same timeline search but so far only Butterfield has significant data tracked before the show. Just like the others, Allison only gained her fame from the TV series. It is worthy also to note that she has one of the highest engagement rates out of all the cast. Hers stands at 21% while Butterfield, Gatwa, and Mackey rank at 15%, 11% and 19% respectively.

Apart from the fact that this is a welcome tribute to International Women’s Day, is anyone actually surprised that people LOVE Allison? She wears a suit better than most men.

5. Another character of major public interest is Jackson: the prodigal swimmer and head boy who falls in love with Maeve after a casual hookup. He is played by Kedar Williams-Stirling (@kedarws): another example of ‘black excellence’ in a show that doesn’t need to be predominantly black or coloured to showcase equality of craft.

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Interestingly, our platform could not produce any results on his follower rate, because Stirling is fairly socially inactive on media. What we can tell you, however, is that 65% of his followers are female and he gets a 14% engagement rate on the images he does post.

Here is a stunning shot of the man.

6. Last but certainly not the least, we have Gillian Anderson (@gilliana) who plays Otis’s eccentric and sexually liberated single mother. Anderson has been in the television, cinema, and theatre scene for a long, long time. We know her from The X Files, Great Expectations, Hannibal, A Streetcar Named Desire and so many more. She is no stranger to this world.

Now, despite her extensive acting career, Anderson does not have as many followers as Butterfield, Mackey nor Gatwa. This is possibly owing to age and audience, but nevertheless let us take a look at the growth of her followers.

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Anderson has clearly always had an ever-increasing presence on Instagram. What is clear from the graph, however, is the sudden pick-up in early January. We now know this to be a result of Sex Education.


Concluding Remarks

All in all, it is evident that the Internet loves the cast of Sex Education. Many of them are already being commissioned as models and celebrity influencers which is natural, considering their good looks and riveting personalities (at least on TV). Netflix has assured desperate viewers that there will be a Season 2, so we’ll keep an eye out on the analytics from here on. Watch this space to see if and how the numbers change.

Written by Deesha Menon

Influencer Marketing at Popular Chips. Interested in social issues, narratives, books, social media, and machine learning.

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