While watching the first two instalments of the show, I was rooting for it to delve more into areas pertaining to sexuality, contraception, misinformation, performance anxiety, female anatomy and pleasure. But with Season 3, Sex Education leaves no stone unturned. It not only touches upon these aspects but also educates the viewers in a complete sense.
The students of Moordale Secondary School are back and much has changed. They have a new headmistress Hope Hadden (Jemima Kirke), exchanges between Maeve and Otis are awkward, Aimee is dealing with the trauma of the assault that took place on the bus and Jean is trying hard to learn to co-parent with Jakob. And yet one thing that hasn’t changed is that the school needs the sex clinic more than ever.
Worried of encouraging promiscuity and tarnishing the image of the school, Hope Hadden sets new protocols to enforce conscientiousness and conformity. She wants to protect the image and the interest of the related groups after the Chlamydia outbreak. As a result, students cannot use titillating lyrics in songs, sex is relegated to debauchery, concepts relating to celibacy are included in the syllabus and students have to wear uniform with no accessories. All of this is instilled to build focus, however it only curbs self expression and freedom. The creator Larrie Nunn uses empowerment with these intricate details which are important to the self image of these teenagers.
Our sex prodigy Otis (Asa Butterfield) is hitting it off with Ruby (Mimi Keene), the show perfectly captures the internal conflict as both go on a journey of exploration in the relationship. Ruby and Adam (Connor Swindells) get the most character development in the story. Ruby reveals her soft interior and Adam truly wants to become a better human being. Connor Swindells has done a remarkable job, the lingering sadness in Adam’s eyes has been portrayed beautifully by the actor. I found myself wishing that Adam ha smiled more in the season. Although I found the chaotic and confusing poop scene on the bus to be jarringly annoying, if it was done to establish a friendship between Rahim and Adam, it could have been done some other way.
One of the most delightful scenes is when Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood) goes to seek therapy and Jean (Gillian Anderson) explains to her that vulvas can be of different shapes, sizes and colours. People with non-binary identities are also included this season. Although it comes off like a token representation, Cal is endearing. It would have been more enjoyable if they were naturally assimilated in the story rather than just to be a tick in the box and I hope to see more of them in the upcoming seasons. What surprised me the most was how almost every “side character” has their own stories and they are showcased as their own, without digressing from the main narrative. The characters are not only there to help in the character development of the “main characters” but also, their individuality shines.
As the show progresses there are multiple elements it sheds light on – IVF, coparenting, mental health but the most beautiful lesson here is that you cannot survive without genuine friendships. Take Otis and Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), they share many heartwarming scenes this season too. The hug both of them share at the hospital and their dance at the school’s staircase are memorable. The bond that Aimee and Maeve have is special too. The way Aimee encourages Maeve to chase her dreams and how Maeve is unafraid to call out Aimee if she is not being herself – they are all reflective of a true friendship.
The strength of the show lies in the immaculate performances by the ensemble cast. The costumes exuded an 80’s vibe and gave major inspiration for a closet revival. For me the show was about owning individuality, accepting flaws and being unapologetically yourself. You can catch it on Netflix.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.