Season 3 of ‘Sex Education’ is raunchy, heartwarming fun

still from Sex Education

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Grade: 4.0/5.0

After being the third-most-watched show during the pandemic and one of the most-watched shows of 2019, the third season of “Sex Education” had a lot to live up to. The students of Moordale Secondary must contend with new expectations, new relationships and their ever-changing hormones. The third season of “Sex Education” is an incredibly bingeable romp that is hilariously heartwarming, living up to all that it promises. 

Picking up in the fall after summer vacation, Otis (Asa Butterfield) is ready to move on — after his voicemail confessing his love for Maeve (Emma Mackey) was never heard. He’s committing to permanently ending the sex clinic he ran with Maeve in the show’s prior two seasons and is in a new relationship with popular girl Ruby (Mimi Keene). At the same time, Moordale Secondary welcomes a new headteacher, Hope (Jemima Kirke), who hopes to rid Moordale of its sex-crazed reputation, appointing a new head girl Vivienne (Chinenye Ezeudu) in Jackson’s (Kedar Williams-Sterling) place. 

As is with the earlier seasons, the third season is a whimsical look at the teenage experience. While the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, every time it touches on more serious topics, such as sexual health, romantic relationships and sexual orientation, it addresses these subjects with the utmost respect. This care is especially pertinent in regards to Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood) as she processes the trauma of her sexual assault last season. “Sex Education” touches on topics that are ordinarily taboo with surprising ease. 

One of the third season’s greatest strengths is its incredibly likable and multidimensional side characters; they are the ones who allow the show to truly become something special. Ruby, once a shallow mean girl, is finally given her moment to shine, turning into a fan favorite as the episodes progress. The same can be said about Adam (Connor Swindells), as his days of bullying are long gone: he learns to express his true feelings and overcome internalized homophobia in his relationship with Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), while the latter visits his family in Nigeria and contends with the fact that being gay is still illegal in that country. 

“Sex Education” also delightfully introduces its first nonbinary character, Cal (Dua Saleh), and their cheeky, rebellious attitude helps bring Jackson out of his shell and serves as a force for good in the classroom. All of these storylines are somehow all done masterfully, showcasing problems that are hardly touched upon in other shows, proving that the inclusion of diverse narratives will always make for a better, more well-liked show. 

Beyond romantic relationships, “Sex Education” also does notably well in the portrayal of supportive and dynamic platonic relationships, particularly those of Otis and Eric and Maeve and Aimee. These endearing pairs support each other in every sense of the word, unashamed of their unconditional love.

At the season’s end, however, it seems as though all of the development building from the past three seasons has imploded upon itself. All of the characters are in different places than they began in the first season, most of the major relationships have broken up and Moordale is in shambles yet again. While this can be frustrating for audience members looking for a satisfying resolution, this narrative revolution can hopefully be remedied by the show’s fourth season, which has already been promised.

Caitlin Keller covers television. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @caitlinkeller20.