The Sex Education poster controversy is missing the point

Sex Education Season 4 poster beside Nymphomaniac poster
(Image credit: Netflix / Zentropa )

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In that case, the designers behind the key art for Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac must be feeling the praise right now. Posters have been released to promote Netflix's Sex Education season 4, and the internet has been quick to point out that they look familiar.

The poster designs show the stars of the British comedy series in the throes of passion, both in individual character posters and an ensemble shot as a choir in a crescendo. Many have suggested that the designs are a badly executed imitation of the posters for Von Trier's 2013 film Nymphomaniac. But have we forgotten about parody? (See our pick of the best poster designs for more inspiration).

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Individual character posters show the stars of Sex Education, including Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Ncuti Gatwa and Emma Mackey, on the verge of orgasm against colour gradient backgrounds. The main poster combines all eight in a choir to promote the climactic final – a nice variation on the floating heads approach to poster design. 

Some have accused Netflix of "blatantly copying" the designs of posters for Nymphomaniac. But considering the knowing humour of the series, I expect it's more likely to be an intentional reference intended to parody Von Trier's art film.

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I wouldn't be surprised if the designs were also chosen for their obvious 'meme-abilty". Indeed, just hours after they surfaced, Twitter is already awash with modified versions of the designs starring everyone from Donald Trump to superheroes. The simple design makes it fairly easy for anyone to create their own, so expect to see many more mashups coming soon.

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For more unusual takes on superheroes, see DC Comics' Swimsuit Edition. You might also want to see our pick of the best movie posters of the year so far.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.