Another Sex Education hot take:
Adam isn't boring, and he definitely has the potential to be even better.
If being around him felt like a chore, Eric wouldn't have chosen to go see him at the scrap yard multiple times. Not to mention choosing to be with him during the play.
And it's important to note that Adam spent years under his father's thumb. We don't know the full extent of what was happening to him over the years, but it's safe to say it wasn't pretty. His room was completely devoid of Adam's personality because his father decided so, he had to hand in his phone every night, until his parents' divorce he didn't have much to do, nothing of interest he could've done, no hobbies. It's safe to say that if his father saw him doing something for fun, completely innocent and all, he would still find a way to cruelly berate Adam for it.
How do you survive in an environment like that, not to mention thriving?
I'm really hoping and praying that in season 3, without his dad breathing down his neck, we will see more of Adam for who he is - what he likes, what he doesn't like, what interests him, what are his plans for the future. There is so much potential in him and I'm really excited to see what the writers of the show came up for my boy.
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Hey there! thanks for the AWTWB asks you’ve been answering—they’ve helped me process some parts of the book and think things through.
that being said I’ve got one of my own questions for you.
one of the things I really loved about Carry On was Simon and Penny’s friendship. One of the things I appreciated about WS was the friendship between Baz and Penny.
but we didn‘t see much of either of those in AWTWB and that kind of bummed me out. What are your thoughts on the lack of those interactions?
hello anon, thanks for the ask! This might be a long one, so bear with me!
Simon and Penny's friendship is one of many wonderful parts of these books. Like you, it's one of the things I've loved to read. I was also so gratified to see that Baz and Penny grew to have such a deep and caring friendship in WS.
It may seem like we don't see those friendships "on screen" in the same way in AWTWB but I do think there are reasons for that, reasons that make a great deal of sense building on the previous books.
Simon and Penny's friendship is introduced in CO and we see it as rock solid through that book. I don't think there was any doubt as to the mutuality and depth of that relationship. It continues, albeit affected by Simon's personal trauma, in WS. In WS we also see the introduction of Baz and Penny's friendship--forged in their mutual care and love for Simon but being a distinct and separate entity as well, a love and caring for each other that goes alongside the relationship they have through Simon.
I don't think AWTWB diminishes those friendships. But circumstances have altered–based on Simon's decision early in the book to withdraw himself from the World of Mages, from the revelations about themselves the trip to America brought forth, with how they choose to move forward based on those circumstances.
I think CO and WS did a good job establishing the foundation and strength of Simon's friendship with Penny and the Baz and Penny one as well. I don't think there is any doubt in AWTWB that they all care very deeply for each other.
But Simon has drawn a line. A boundary. He believes he needs to be distinct and separate from the World of Mages to move forward, to get unstuck. He makes that very clear to Penny in his conversation with her, a conversation that is off-screen for very good reasons I think. One reason being it having a stronger emotional punch when Simon tells Baz (and us) in the break-up chapter--it would have been diluted if we had already heard his reasoning. Instead we get to hear Penny explain her understanding of it to Baz before Simon gives us the much more emotionally devastating version he gives Baz.
We get to see Penny making some very crucial realisations about the co-dependant relationship she and Simon had developed, about her own decisions and reactions to what had been going on in Simon's life. And her role as his friend and confidant. She is seeing things through a different lens–since the Mage's death, since Simon's spiral, since the trip to America. Mitali is rather harsh in her observations but Penny did thrive on the excitement and intrigue of the missions, her role as dread companion, the rush of research, intuition, and creative spell casting that she would contribute. But we saw even in CO that Penny had reached a point of wanting to spirit Simon away, to keep him safe, to pull him away from the World of Mages herself. A part of her that intuitively knew his life as a boy-soldier was unhealthy and hurtful to him in the long run. There is certainly a part of Penny that likely blames herself for not seeing through the Mage earlier, for not in some way protecting Simon or helping him avoid what ultimately happened. Not that she necessarily could have, but she would be thinking about it.
We know Baz feels that way as well. We hear Dr. Wellbelove voice a regret we know those closest to Simon would be feeling. Penny loves Simon. She does respect him. But she has put herself in a “taking care of him” role that takes away some of his agency and leads to a challenging dynamic. She and Baz both, in WS, but Penny has a longer history of that. After America she has come to a realisation that perhaps she has enabled or encouraged some of the situations they have found themselves in, that have been detrimental to Simon in the long run. That her mantra of Simon needing her hasn’t necessarily been healthy for their relationship. He sets a boundary with her and she chooses to respect it, not bulldoze right over it, as she may have in the past. This is a huge moment of character growth for her. She isn't relinquishing her relationship with Simon. She's giving him the freedom to do what he feel is right for him in the moment. She loves and trusts him enough to give him space when she understands he needs it. She doesn't like it, it hurts like hell, but she knows this agency and control and decision making on his own terms is vital for him. And when he calls her back, to help solve some new magickal conundrum, she doesn't let herself get drawn in. She keeps her promise to him, even if he's the one crossing the boundary.
It also allows her to be her own hero, if that makes sense. To be the hero of her own story, to approach something on her own terms. She bemoans the fact that she doesn't have Simon and Baz to listen to her think through things when she's with Shepard but the reality is she doesn't need them to do that--she can do this herself. It's empowering and a shift in her own experience. It also allows her to open herself up to someone new, let someone else in to her tiny circle.
I also think it's important in this story to see that just because someone asks for space, or needs some distance or agency, it doesn't necessarily mean you're losing them forever or that they are permanently rejecting you. Or that you’ve done something irrevocable. People need to grow and process and change and sometimes they need the space and freedom to do so. I think that's a very meaningful point. They last a little over a week apart but it's a week that provides them both with insight and growth. And they find themselves again, stronger than before, when they are back together.
And Simon talks it out with Penny. Baz tells him he should and he does. And it's ok that conversation is offscreen. We know the love they have for each other. We know Penny hates emotional conversations (her whole issue with saying goodbye from Carry On). It's not a scene we need to see--it's ok that it's private. It's how they'd want it.
We don't see as much of Baz and Penny's friendship, which you also mention, but I think again that's ok. It doesn't mean it ceases to exist--it simply continues on in the background as Simon and Baz's relationship work takes the forefront. Yes, Baz and Penny have a disagreement about Simon. But their friendship remains. They still communicate. They are still there for each other in the pivotal later scenes surrounding Smith. That hasn't changed. They have each others backs. They always will. I don't think Penny truly begrudges the fact that Simon and Baz have had this time together--I think she is very aware of how much they care for each other and that they needed to sort themselves to move forward also.
I hope this answered your question. The tl;dr is basically their friendships endure, even when not explicitly on the page. We don’t necessarily need to see them to know they’re there—the groundwork has been laid. We know their history and the depth of those friendships and that this time apart allowed for growth and progress and healthy boundaries and understanding. All good things. And in the end, they're all in this together, for each other and in support of each other.
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