Review: ‘Sex Education’: S3 is emotional and revolutionary

The third season of the critically acclaimed show soars above expectations and leaves its audience as emotional as ever.


Netflix has released the third season of the critically-acclaimed show Sex Education. Despite audience anxieties, the show continues to defy expectations. (Image courtesy of Netflix)

By Mariana Trimble, Contributing Writer

Spoiler warning: this article contains spoilers for the third season of “Sex Education.” 

The students of Moordale Secondary School are coming back with a new head teacher, Hope Haddon (Jemima Kirke), who plans on reversing the school’s bad reputation after the events of the previous season. The students, along with the main protagonist Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), find themselves juggling abrupt changes through school, family woes and new relationships.

Still riding the emotional high of the previous season’s finale, many were worried that the third  season of “Sex Education” would not live up to expectations, but these naysayers were pleasantly surprised. Despite having a massive cast and only eight episodes, the writers managed to flesh out each character beyond their tropes. Some of the highlights were Ruby Matthews (Mimi Keene), the most popular girl at school and Adam Groff (Connor Swindells), a reformed high school bully. 

Throughout the season, Adam is figuring himself out. He works through his bisexuality, opens up to his boyfriend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and attempts to be a better student and a happier person. Ruby allows herself to be more vulnerable with her boyfriend Otis, and even falls in love with him. Although their relationship ends, leaving her brokenhearted, she grows to be a more considerate person. Both Ruby and Adam’s family lives are explored in depth, becoming an integral part of understanding their characters. This insight into their lives allows viewers to see a more vulnerable side of them. Both characters were more vulnerable in their relationships than before, creating far more developed, multidimensional characters. 

The excellent writing ensures that you will never completely love or hate a character. Each character garners sympathy from the audience, even if they are deplorable. The season’s main antagonist, Hope, is under pressure from Moordale’s investors to reverse the bad media representation the school received from its sex-positive students. Moreover, she is stressed from her personal issues of infertility, and the audience realizes that her strict nature comes from intense internal and external pressures. 

Another thing the show does masterfully — besides a stellar display of diversityis include consequences for actions, all which directly affect their futures. The students put on a show for the media as the sexually free teenagers they are, and Hope is subsequently fired over it. Instead of celebrating the victory, the students’ success is met with bad news: without any interest to renew the school, it would be shut down before the end of the term. 

While the show excels in many more areas, there were a few details that left me wanting more. Otis gets minimal screen time as the show focuses on developing other characters. While he is still a point of focus for a few episodes, like his relationship with Ruby and his new family, in many instances Otis serves as a supporting character. For example, Ruby’s perspective in their relationship is focused on more than Otis’s. While Ruby’s development is much appreciated, Otis was left without any major developments in his character from the last season. 

A highly anticipated aspect of this season was the prolonged relationship between Otis and the brilliant, spunky Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey). While the back-and-forth between the two in previous seasons seemed natural, here it just seemed like a ploy to get viewers to watch the next season for a semblance of resolution. Alongside their dwindling chemistry and unsatisfying get-together, neither of the characters benefited from substantial character development either. With Maeve bound for America after she and Otis had finally confessed their feelings to each other, it was impossible not to feel frustrated and underwhelmed by the season finale. 

All in all, “Sex Education” season three was a charming addition to the show. While it left me wanting more, especially for Otis’s character, it still upholds the series’s reputation as some of the most revolutionary content on Netflix.

Contact Mariana Trimble at [email protected]