Season 3 of Sex Education opens with a bang, quite literally – a series of montages of all the characters engaging in sexual activity. It is shocking, if you are new here, or strangely familiar and delectable for loyal fans. This sets the tone for what is to come over the course of eight episodes.
The previous season left us with one burning question: What will happen to the internet’s favourite will-they-won’t-they pair Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Maeve (Emma Mackey)? The last time we saw them, Otis had left a voicemail confessing his feelings for her. However, Isaac (George Robinson), who is the most hated character on television right now, deleted the voicemail before Maeve could hear it. But we don’t get our answers just yet.
Other things have happened too. Former alpha jock Adam (Connor Swindells) finally confessed his feelings for Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), there was an alien and penis-themed school musical, and the headmaster Mr Groff (Alistair Petrie) was given the boot.
Now, the new school year has begun and everything is different. There is a new headmistress, Hope (Jemima Kirke), whose fun jig at the assembly does not seem to fool anyone. Otis and Maeve drift apart and hardly interact with each other. Adam and Eric are dating, but the former is struggling to adjust to his new relationship. And Otis’ mother Jean (Gillian Anderson) is pregnant and is working up the courage to tell her ex Jakob (Mikael Persbrandt) about it.
Sex Education sticks to its strong suit – it does not shy away from discussing teenage and adult issues in a real and raw manner. As in previous seasons, it addresses very real and relevant concerns effortlessly. Touching upon the taboo surrounding older mothers, infertility, fetish-shaming, and sex education itself, creator Laurie Nunn makes progressive points through her characters. For instance, Jean calls out the hospital staff when her judgmental doctor lets it slip that he disapproves of her being a middle-aged pregnant woman.
There is grief, love, anger, and of course, lots of sex. And sometimes, all four – drug dealer Jeffrey (Joe Wilkinson) is frustrated but he is unable to tell his wife that he is tired of having sex constantly because she is grieving for her dead cat. While some old things like the famous sex clinic are gone, there are some delightful callbacks to earlier seasons. Much like the “It is my vagina” chant that all the girls did when a nude photo was leaked in season one, there’s a hilarious, but heartfelt “It is my poo” sequence this season.
Season 3 also boasts of a plenitude of funny moments. Otis and Eric’s ever-blossoming friendship and their goofy dance on the stairwell to commemorate the latter’s decision to go all the way with Adam is memorable. The comedy is consistent, but it is the raw moments that stand out. There is a scene where Ola gets her period and they show her stained underwear. It is normal and there is no fuss about it. It is just plain honesty.
Arguably, the show’s best aspect is its depiction of friendships and relationships. This season sees many unlikely bonds being formed. Friendships are complicated and Sex Education gets it right. Former head boy Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) and current head girl Vivienne (Chinenye Ezeudu) are at loggerheads throughout the season over Hope’s authority, but they still maintain a friendship. Perhaps the show’s biggest highlight is the introduction of its new character Cal (Dua Saleh) from Minneapolis. Identifying themselves as non-binary, their friendship with Jackson is a pleasure to watch. From inspiring him to care about social issues to smoking cannabis with him on a high rock, there never is a dull moment when the pair is on-screen.
The list of loveable characters doesn’t end there. Despite their flaws, nearly every single person on the show is likeable. Even previously despised characters like Isaac and Mr Groff are redeemed. The lone exception is the headmistress. Hope, who is a stickler for rules and proper conduct, is racist, conservative, and not very sex-positive.
Under her, the school students walk in a single file, take out their piercings, and sport an unflattering grey uniform. (To be honest, for those of us who survived an Indian high school, these rules will not seem shocking.) She advocates abstinence and rules with an iron hand. While the archetypal strong female antagonist is not new, Kirke does play her part well.
Songs from the likes of David Bowie, KRS-One and Queen elevate the show’s important moments. The choice of music this season is spectacular – Bill Callahan’s The Breeze truly tugs at your heartstrings during an emotional scene with Maeve and Otis.
In Season 3, Sex Education does what it knows best. It is funny, shocking, and ultimately honest in its portrayal of human beings. In true Sex Education style, this season also ends on a cliffhanger of sorts. But, if you truly are a fan, you were probably prepared for that from the beginning.
This Sex Education Season 3 review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the show. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies/shows that are reviewed on the site.