Sex Education is everything a teen comedy-drama should be: emotionally honest, with equal amounts of heartbreak and laughter. Season 3 delves even deeper into the excellent ensemble cast, presenting new and exciting scenarios for the characters of Moordale. Whilst still providing riveting and emotional moments, it sadly falls short of the second series.
This season revolves around the problems Moordale High students face after being labelled ‘the sex school’, after the now-famous chlamydia outbreak. New headteacher and queen of abstinence Hope (Jemima Kirke) attempts to pick up the pieces left by Mr. Groff (Alistair Petrie) and rebrand the school. Meanwhile, Otis (Asa Butterfield) navigates his new ‘relationship’ with Ruby (Mimi Keene) whilst still trying to move on from Maeve (Emma Mackey). Jean (Gillian Anderson) deals with the challenges of being pregnant later in life, and Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and Adam (Connor Swindells) battle against the tide to make their now-public relationship last.
The show flings the audience straight into the action in a saucy compilation that would be unbearable for anyone watching with their parents. The level of explicit content you expect from Sex Education continues throughout the season, with hilarious moments such as the school choir’s rendition of ‘f*** the pain away’ (notable mention to the perfectly cast Jim Howick as Colin).
Characters – The Heart of the Show
Across the board, the series has excellent performances, but Gillian Anderson steals the show once again as Otis’ mother Jean. Whilst I wish we saw more of her in her natural habitat listening to randomers’ sex problems in therapy, I loved her turbulent storyline with Jakob filled with both joyous and heart-breaking moments, especially in the dramatic final act.
Eric and Adam’s complex relationship was put to the test this series as Adam tried to come to terms with his sexual identity while Eric questions if he needs to put himself first over his relationship. Both actors gave exceptional performances as their retrospective characters and were a key part of what made this series great.
Mimi Keene was also on top form and became one of the standout stars of the series. Ironically, going into this show most fans hoped for a love story between Maeve and Otis, but Ruby and Otis’ unexpected fling in season 2 which paved the way for their new ‘relationship’ became the far more interesting storyline. Ruby was both witty and a joy to watch on screen and I would love to see more of her in a potential season 4.
Jemima Kirk, whilst enjoyable to watch as the smug headteacher, was lost in the story in comparison to Mr. Groff, whose character only became more complex and ended up being a favourite of mine as he tried to pick himself up from rock bottom. I would have loved to see more of Jason Isaacs in this series, as his chalk and cheese character dynamic with Alistair Petrie was riveting to watch.
Other Areas Fell Flat
The scope seemed a lot wider this year, with new characters and relationships broadening the storylines across the show. In some instances, this was a welcome and exciting move. In other cases however, this held things back; the cast seemed regimented in their duos and trios, and, like school, it seems Sex Education has its’ cliques. Everything felt scattered, as it seemed like characters had very separate storylines and lacked interaction. Take season 2 for example, where the female cast ended up banding together in detention to support Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood). This is a perfect example of how the show can bring together different main characters and put them in a new scenario to further develop the story. Sadly, season 3 didn’t feature as much of this as I’d have liked.
Whilst I praise Sex Education for its’ cast and acting abilities, this season wasn’t the shows strongest. At it’s midway point, some episodes felt included merely as filler. Take for example the school trip episode, which had only a few relevant moments with the rest of the time being filled up with cringe faeces jokes. This wasn’t the case with the previous series, as each episode flew by and everything felt relevant and exciting to the story.
Another drawback for was the ending. This could very well be because I was such a fan of the cliff-hanger of season 2, where Otis’ profession of love on voicemail was deleted before Maeve got a chance to listen. I love endings that strike a real emotional reaction with the audience, and personally, the ending of Season 2 sparked significantly more emotion than the end of series 3. Additionally, everything felt rushed which only added to the feelings of dissatisfaction.
Sex Education is a compelling addition to the story of sex-obsessed students at Moordale. The show, like Jean Milburn, continues to break the stigma around sex and other relevant teen issues like identity and body confidence. Season 3 once again strikes a great balance between heart-breaking moments and laugh-out-loud one-liners. Whilst some parts of the show weren’t quite as whimsical as season 2, fans of the show will not be disappointed, and I’d love to see a season 4 burst onto our screens in the future.
Words by Alex O’Leary
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