Creator: Laurie Nunn
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Emma Mackey, Ncuti Gatwa, Gillian Anderson, Connor Swindells, Aimee Lou Wood
Back in January 2020 when the world had not yet changed forever due to a global pandemic, Isaac from Sex Education deleted a voice-mail Otis had left for Maeve. This was quite a moment in pop-culture history, and the collective frustration of fans around the world, who just wanted to see Otis and Maeve get together, was palpable. Now, a year and nine months later, we finally get the answers. But it’s not the relief that we are looking for.
The third season of the show opens with the students of Moordale High getting a new Head Teacher Hope Haddon after Principal Michael Groff gets fired due to a raunchy alien-themed play in the school. Moordale High is now called the ‘Sex School’ by the press and the more conservative sections of the town. However, the students are more now more fired up than ever, mostly due to sex-therapist Dr Jean Millburn’s counseling in the previous term. It will not be easy for Haddon to control the teens on their journey to sexual liberation and Sex Education is all about that push and pull.
In fact, watching season 3 is a lot like watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but lighter. Obviously Hope Haddon reminds us of Dolores Umbridge, and that’s quite something, given how the latter is probably one of the most despicable characters of all time. However, its much more than that. In both the projects, elements that were familiar to the characters and audience are taken away. We see the characters struggling with this new environment, but we also know that things can never go back to the way they were no matter how much they try.
Sex Education has also been credited since its inception for showcasing a diverse range of issues that effect the everyday teenager, regardless of race, gender identity and sexual orientation. The show has previously delved into bold topics like sexual fetishes, sexual assault, consent, homophobia, STIs among others. While the current season dives deep into a different set of issues, it also feels much more tame than before. Of course there’s still a lot of sex and much more talk of it, but it feels like everyone has calmed down a little bit.
This year we also see Otis and Maeve really blossom as two individual people. Their characters aren’t just about them being estranged from each other, and that’s refreshing to watch in a teenage show. We also see a lot of growth in Adam and Eric’s relationship. In many ways, season 3 does feel like Adam’s season.
While Sex Education retains its charm and tone from the first two seasons, I feel that season three lacks that it moment. In season 1 there was this iconic “It’s my vagina" sequence, where the entire class stood up for a girl whose nude pictures got leaked. In season 2 it was the heartbreaking yet empowering “It’s just a stupid bus" scene where a group of girlfriends accompany Aimee on the bus as she is scared after getting sexually assaulted there. There were a lot of important moments in season 3 but I don’t know if there will be any that’s as impactful as the ones we saw before.
Nevertheless, Sex Education season 3 is quite satisfying to watch. It’s also a truly binge-able series with each episode ending on a totally unexpected moment. In true Sex Education fashion, there is also a cliffhanger in the final episode that will leave you mad, but it’s okay, we are better prepared this time.