Review: Sex Education, season 3 remains outstanding

Asa Butterfield in Sex Education

Sex Education, which has consistently been one of the best things on television, maintains its top shelf status in season 3. The series, created and written by Laurie Nunn, is about students in an English school and the array of adults around them.

Sex Education has a large cast and many plotlines going at once. Like the first two seasons, the underlying theme in all these story lines is about letting people express who they are and what they are in truthful ways. Much of that entails sexuality and gender expression, but it further includes themes about friendship, honesty, tolerance, empathy, grief, and family relationships.

Sex Therapist Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson) and her son Otis (Asa Butterfield), who dispensed sex advice in an abandoned bathroom of the school, left the school in a scandalous state at the end of season 2.

Hope (Jemima Kirke) was the new head teacher. She meant to get the school out of the scandal zone and onto the straight and narrow. Her first act was to paint a yellow line down the middle of the hallways with instructions to walk single file on either side. As head boy Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) said, “It’s never just a line.” And it wasn’t. Soon there were school uniforms, regulations on what the choir could sing, and serious punishments for students who wouldn’t conform.

Tanya Reynolds in Sex Education

Hope’s most horrifying punishment was to make non-conforming students wear humiliating signs which they had to read aloud to the student body. That act was the last straw for the students, who staged a rebellion.

Dua Saleh in Sex Education

There were non-binary students such as Cal (Dua Saleh), who wanted the rules about dressing rooms and uniforms to change. Cal’s story arc included an honest discussion about binders, which I think many young non-binary or trans people will find helpful.

So many discussions in this series are helpful. They are full of hope and love and acceptance. That’s the number one reason it’s such good television.

Asa Butterfield, Ncuti Gatwa, and Connor Swindells in Sex Education

There were the LGBTQ+ characters from past seasons including Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and Adam (Connor Swindells).

Emma Mackey in Sex Education

Maeve (Emma Mackey) was sometimes with Otis in season 3 but she also spent a lot of the season dealing with her addict mother and her little sister who was in foster care.

Maeve had a sex scene with Isaac (George Robinson), her wheelchair-bound neighbor at the caravan park where she lived. There was another love scene with a disabled person in The L Word Generation Q just a few days ago. I’m so happy to see this kind of story being represented on television now. I think it’s really important.

As for Otis, when he wasn’t mooning about Maeve, he was dating the super popular Ruby (Mimi Keene).

Otis’ mom was pregnant in season 3. Jakob (Mikael Persbrandt) was presumed to be the father. So, should Jakob and his daughter Ola (Patricia Allison) move into the Milburn house and make like a normal family as they waited for the baby to come?

Many storylines I haven’t mentioned were part of the action. Parents, teachers, and relatives had the same issues as the hormonal teens. Lots of different themes and people add to the plots. One of the most interesting episodes was when Eric went to Nigeria with his family for a wedding. Homosexuality is not legal there. His experiences in Lagos were eye-opening for him.

I thought the music choices were brilliant. Appropriate songs added to the atmosphere and feel of the series.

We live in a time of rapid change. People are more open and honest about who they are, who they love, and what they are passionate about. This series carries a powerful message of acceptance. It well written, well acted, well directed – outstanding in every way. The one woman director in season 3 was Runyararo Mapfumo, who directed 4 of the 8 episodes.

There’s no word at this time about a 4th season. Things will be very different if one comes. The school situation will change. Maeve will have been gone for months. The Millburn home has an infant girl to care for now. Everyone is growing up and dealing with their issues in a more mature way. It might be just the shake up this series needs to keep going in a new and always brilliant direction. [News update: season 4 was announced. It’s on!]

Poster for Sex Education

Have a look at the teaser.

Are you planning to watch this one? What do you love about the series?

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

Comments are appreciated!