Sex Education Season 3: Putting its Best Foot Forward– with Awkward Footing

Season three of Netflix’s Sex Education has been out for nearly some months now, and after a dozen whirlwind romances, a captivating season two finale, and of course, two years of waiting, fans have one question: did the new season deliver? After spending the past few weeks reflecting, this is still a hard question to answer.

Sex Education’s first two seasons elevated the show from a generic teen drama to a witty, yet equally touching take on the coming of age story and has certainly carved its own path with its uniqueness and spectacularly sharp writing.  How season three feels in comparison is… well, strange, to say the least. The structure of the first two seasons was simple, where each episode had a minor sex therapy clinic-related conflict at Moordale High, which allowed the central plot to be easily followed as we jumped from character to character. Instead, in season 3, there are so many characters, each with their own set of conflicts to navigate through, that the concept of an overarching story is sort of thrown out the window. Recontinued plotlines from previous seasons, such as Otis and Maeve’s relationship, are sort of put on the sidelines for a while, and we instead focus on Moordale as a collective, giving all of its students, both new and old, equal amounts of attention. This results in a season whose plot feels far too slow-paced and unfocused, dragging along plotlines that fans have been familiar with for nearly four years now, which is ultimately being its most fatal flaw. All of these cracks that seem to be showing might just be proof that, undeniably, the show has overstayed its welcome. 

Despite all of its flaws, a weak season of Sex Education is still a strong, if not necessary work of television that should be considered among the upper-echelon of what teen dramas can be. Sex Education, even in its third season, continues to excel in its character-driven storytelling, and now with such a large and unique ensemble of characters, it is able to achieve more than ever. New Moordale student Cal Bowman, the show’s first nonbinary character who uses they/them pronouns, is one of the show’s best additions. I loved watching Cal’s unapologetic boldness while protesting the queer-restricting uniform mandates, their support of the other nonbinary students with chest binding, and especially the relation between themself and Jackson. Cal’s romantic arc with Jackson follows them pursuing an intimate relationship with him, while simultaneously having to confront the fact that they will be perceived as a girl by Jackson, who would subconsciously consider himself in a heterosexual relationship.

As a matter of fact, all of the relationships in this season felt so extremely genuine and complex, with each one serving as its own little life lesson. With Adam and Eric, both at different stages of embracing their sexuality, or Jean and Jakob, whose storyline of family-building and overcoming trauma was an emotional high point. Even Otis and Ruby, whose short-lived relationship reaffirmed me, as an insecure teenager, that fellow insecure teenagers can grow out of their insecurities by putting themselves first and pursuing self-worth.

In the face of its muddy plot and its dizzying tendency to bounce from character to character, Sex Education season three continues to be an extremely well written season of television, still in touch with its themes and intentions, by showing us a vast cast of characters who teach us to be bold, be brave, and to stand up for what we believe in as we pave the roads towards a more open-minded world, where can love ourselves and each other unapologetically and to the fullest extent. 

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