Review: Sex Education Season 3 (2021)

Crickey, well that was depressing! After an almost two-year wait, ‘Moordale Sex School’ is back for another year, and just like the anthem of the previous series, I’m now left with another earworm that I can’t sing aloud in public. Amongst struggling to understand how these teenagers are STILL at the same school, I was kept on a lengthy tether of fear, love and annoyance from the series’ skilled writers; who once again delved into complex topics with sensitivity and importance.

The opening scene is always the definitive moment of every Sex Education episode and boy did the first one not disappoint. With the replacement of ‘Sex-kid’ for (a now heavily pregnant) Dr Milburn as an on-site, professional, sexual health advisor in Season 2, almost the entirety of Moordale’s student body appears to be (quite literally) all up in each other’s bodies- with both surprising pairings and all-round sexual success. But that doesn’t mean the upcoming episodes didn’t deliver on tested relationships, complicated friendships and the mystery of a flying poo!

With the irritation of the Season 2 finale causing waves in the minds of viewers, the third season of Netflix’s beloved 80s/ English/American/ who-knows, teen world opens once again with an uncomfortable dynamic between the fatefully star-crossed, Otis & Maeve. This, however, is now becoming such a flailing storyline of the most annoying ‘will they- wont they’ that I was so glad the writers decided to expand their breath of character focus this year into both other students and parents alike. The viewers get to see a side to Ruby unknown to both them and her own friends, whilst Adam previously exhausted character trope of being the closeted gay bully, shines in a new light as he gives his rendition of Keira Knightley’s’ iconic Love Actually line and wins everybody’s heart. But alas, somehow in Sex Education- development must always equal devastation, and both of our new beloved Kardashian fans finish the season with broken bikes and broken hearts; Amy too (who will always have my heart) still struggling intimately with the trauma of her sexual assault, this season definitely left me with permanent frown lines for my three favourite characters.

Amongst these newly fleshed out protagonists is fresh meat ‘Cal’ (Dua Saleh)- a non-binary student new to the season, who effortlessly bumps their way into Jackson’s life, causing tension for his close friend Viv, and systematic unrest against the school’s new binary orientated rules, as they fight for the right simply to be seen. Where their dialogue does fall sloppy at points, Cal’s introduction does allow the show to explore this pathway of gender identity in which it has previously lacked nuance, and with the show’s upcoming fourth series I hope to see their character given even more depth and a more comfortable place within the school.

These new school rules make Mr Groff’s severely lacking sex and relationship education of season 1, appear a radically modern syllabus. Introducing a return to the primitive age of Victorian shame signs and sexual fear, is a new headmistress. The millennial Umbridge that is Jemima Kirke’s ‘Hope Haddon’, becomes the tyrannical matriarch of Moordale Secondary this year, with her picture-perfect, white middle class feminism serving as the smoke screen for a trail of trauma shaped footprints across the school’s curriculum and its pupils. Delivering a tepid attempt of depth given for her actions, Hope is not gifted sympathy from either the viewers or her pupils, and in representing institutional racism, tokenisation and plain simple backward thinking- the Moordale Sex School fights back with a vengeance. 

With the series drawing to a close and Emma Mackey’s ‘Maeve’ is offered an opportunity to study in America it’s likely she won’t be returning for a fourth and possibly final season (I mean these kids have to go to university at some point, right?). However, with the spectrum of emotions left with us after that final episode, I’m sure we can all sit comfortably knowing that when it does return, we’ll be greeted with the same zingy outrageousness that really does make us think how much better our teen years would’ve been if we’d have had Otis and his clinic instead of Effie and her cigarettes.

-Mia Roe

Featured Image Source: Still via Youtube //Sex Education | Season 3 | Official Trailer | Netflix

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