Sex Education Review

Image courtesy of Sex Education Twitter

By Kat Kaderabek

Netflix’s Sex Education opened its third season with a bang—quite literally. True to its name, Sex Education focuses very much on personal sexual exploration throughout its third season. Each character keeps focus on themselves throughout most of this season; each episode seemed to hone in on one character’s familial, sexual, and mental relationships.  

This season introduces one of the most conflicting villains of all time: Hope Haddon, played by actress Jemima Kirke. Initial reactions had viewers thinking this was the same woman who played Love Quinn on Netflix’s You, season two. And while that woman is played by Victoria Pedretti, their characters certainly do have quite a lot in common. Namely, their initial outward appearances and actions speak to young, vibrant, career-driven women who are there to assist and defend the reputation of the institutions in which they are employed. While Love Quinn was an established chef of a small eatery, Hope Haddon takes on the challenge of domesticating the notoriously dubbed “sex school.” Initial reactions to Hope have students and viewers feeling conflicted as to her intentions, but it soon becomes clear that her dictatorial ways leave no room for personal expression or sexual investigation on school grounds. 

The star of this season was certainly Adam Groff, played by actor Connor Swindells. His character, who recently began dating Eric, the eclectic and vibrant gay best friend to Otis Milburn, showed immense and joyous character development that left the audience cheering solely for him. Groff’s character had previously been through the wringer, surviving parental divorce, school scandals, and the discovery of his sexual identity. These factors once again plague the former bully during this season as he learns what it means to be queer, to be in a healthy relationship, and to better himself academically and socially. There are several endearing scenes that portray Groff attempting to find something he is good at when the world is seemingly telling him he’s worthless. Regardless of the twists and turns thrown at him this season, viewers will certainly delight in witnessing this quiet, insecure “tough guy” come out of his shell. 

Another character who certainly comes into her own during this season is Aimee, portrayed by Aimme Lou Woods, Maeve’s lovable but daft best friend who was sexually assaulted during the previous season. Audiences get to watch the quirky, innocent girl adapt and embrace her femininity and sexuality while still maintaining her naive demeanor. Not only does she grow in her sexual relationship with herself, but also through her friendships with those closest to her. Primarily, her relationship with Maeve Wiley, played by Emma Mackey, takes several drastic hits throughout the season. Through this struggle, Aimee is able to grow that backbone Meave has always instructed her about. 

This season of Sex Education brought about the quirkiest and most unexpected relationships, namely that of Otis and Ruby, one of the most beautiful and popular girls in school. Their relationship would come to prove that just about anyone can get their heart broken and sex is not always just sex. 

This season also introduced several new characters including another Maeve love interest Isaac, played by George Robinson. The character was first introduced last season as viewers watched him delete a voicemail from Otis where he confessed his love to Maeve. This season, Isaac takes a front seat as Maeve’s primary love interest, while Otis floats somewhere out of orbit. However, Otis quickly returns when he realizes just how powerful love is, especially when it is with the right person. The two engage in a typical love triangle which Maeve quickly diffuses when more pressing matters arise regarding her mentally ill mother and kidnapped younger sister, Elsie. 

There is also much to say about the diversity of the show. Sex Education might literally be the most diverse show in current existence. The main focus on highlighting the spectrum of sexuality, gender fluidity, diverse relationships, and sex-positivity is done precisely and in an entertaining manner. This season depicts the struggle of non-binary people to feel seen and heard, the discovery of one’s own fetishes, identity, the challenge of older pregnancies, the tragedy of queer people in other countries, and all the facets that come with these intense topics. 

Everyone’s favorite sex-positive character, Jean Milburn, played by Gillian Anderson, made a huge return to this season. Quite literally. At almost seven months pregnant, Jean Milburn has yet to tell her former lover Jakob about his child that she is carrying. This obviously explodes in an awkward and tense scene between the two, who then force a relationship in order to keep the baby happy. Jakob and his daughter, Ola, move in with Jean and her son Otis. This creates a rather inept relationship between Otis and his former girlfriend, Ola, who now lives under the same roof as brother and sister. 

If that was not dramatic enough, Ola’s new girlfriend Lilly undergoes horrendous public humiliation when her alien fetish comes to light. Lilly is quickly taken to a new low while Ola struggles with accepting a new mother figure and baby in her life. Their rocky relationship gets even rockier when Lilly publishes an erotic romance in the local journal and is ridiculed by schoolmates, as well as the head principal herself. Surprisingly, it is Otis Milburn who uplifts Lilly and de-escalates the severity of her fetish in the eyes of the school. 

With so much going on in the lives of so many characters, it is hard to keep track of everyone’s development over an eight-episode period. This is probably why the series finale felt like an abrupt ending with no sense of future direction. The writers left little unresolved other than, once again, the state of Otis and Maeve’s relationship. There was a lack of a cliffhanger which audiences have seen in previous seasons. Each character ends on solid ground, yet still reeling from the events that transpired between themselves, as well as the sex-war that occurs within their school against the principal, Hope Haddon. 

Still, the ending of this season felt more like a final one. With this in mind, viewers might begin to ask the question, will there be a season four? Or has Sex Education outplayed itself?

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