Rating – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The hit show Sex Education has returned to Netflix for its third season. With a triumphant 100% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it seems that this ‘dramedy’ has maintained its record of captivating storytelling, spellbinding humour, and tasteful inclusivity.
This series follows the lives of Otis Milburn and Maeve Wiley as they provide sex counseling to their teenage peers at Moordale High School. There’s a huge quantity of characters in the show, and an abundance of sex-related topics have been introduced. Sometimes these characters and topics are related to the central plotline. Other times, not so much.
I have never considered myself to be a fan of Sex Education. For me, it has always felt slightly too disjointed and self-indulgent. The important social topics mentioned (STIs, homophobia, unplanned pregnancy, abortion, body-shaming, and more) are sometimes in excess, and often it seems that strong storylines are rushed, abandoned or not fully developed; does anyone remember the name of the asexual girl from season one? Or the time Eric was violently hate-crimed and then just ‘got over it’ a couple of episodes later?
The newest season is not immune to this criticism – however, it has hugely redeemed the show in my eyes. The world of Sex Education has been widely expanded and season 3 has provided the series a much clearer voice and identity.
A virtue of this season is the apt concentration on a central villain: an authoritative new headmistress named Hope. With the goal of erasing Moordale High School’s public reputation of sexual delinquency, Hope advocates abstinence-only sex ed, public shaming of those who misbehave, and a militant new style of schooling that rattles the entire student body. This creates a far more comprehensible relationship between each student as they work together to dethrone a singular enemy.
Another great aspect of this season is the expanded character development. The many personalities presented in this show are unarguably entertaining, relying on reworked high school archetypes to create a cast of engrossing and hilarious roles, most notably Ruby and Adam. Although previously bullies to the main protagonists, these two characters are very skillfully dissected over the eight episodes. Their expansion brings a sense of realism and humanity to characters that were previously very difficult to empathise with. Adam struggles with expressing his sexuality as he begins his relationship with Eric and Ruby exhibits deep emotional vulnerability while exposing Otis to her difficult home life.
I also profoundly appreciated the topics discussed this season, some of which have rarely been observed in mainstream television before. Kink-shaming, chest binding, international homophobic policy, and non-binary discrimination are all respectfully illustrated this season, among a slew of other topics.
I’d recommend the third season of Sex Education to even the most casual of fans. This season has something new to offer those who have been pessimistic about the show in the past and it may surprise those who have previously abandoned it – happy viewing to my fellow cynics!
Image: Wikimedia Commons