The opening montage of season three of ‘Sex Education’ could make any person previously secure in their sexuality start to question it seriously. We first see our favourite characters again thrusting, grinding, and quivering their way through the summer break in what could arguably be mistaken as a scene from a soft-core porn film. From fantasy alien roleplay to sweaty car sex, it’s clear our Moordale pals have explored a thing or two since we last saw them.
The first of many surprises of the new season is that Otis (Asa Butterfield), who in the final episode of season two professed his love for Maeve (Emma Mackey), has landed himself a new love interest. While the most popular girl in school wouldn’t have been my first guess, Otis and Ruby’s relationship throughout the season becomes more heart-warming with each episode. We see Otis battle his newfound popularity, question his priorities, and learn that Ruby (Mimi Keene) is more than her mean prissy stereotype. She is actually an extremely likeable character.
Meanwhile, Maeve is completely unaware of Otis’ declaration and becomes closer and closer with the person who kept it from her. She and Isaac (George Robinson) are thick as thieves at the beginning of the season, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the pair, as Isaac contemplates his actions from the previous season. It is during the scenes between Isaac and Maeve that the viewer is welcomed into a necessary and important conversation surrounding sexuality and disability.
Isaac’s character is hugely important for the representation of disability within the themes of the show, which are often not seen side by side.
Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and Adam (Connor Swindells) go through some rainy days of their own as the new exclusive pair struggle to navigate the different stages of their sexuality. While Eric is proud of his sexuality and confident in who he is, Adam has some issues coming to terms with how others see him now that he has come out. In fact, many fans were rather sceptical of the decision to continue the pair’s romantic storyline.
Adam’s history with aggression and violence towards Eric would be considered a red flag in any real-life situation. In addition, it could be sending mixed messages regarding how to manage toxic relationships. However, we do see colossal character growth in Adam this season, as he opens himself up more and shows his vulnerability.
We also revisit Aimee (Aimee Lou Woods), who struggles to find her feet after being sexually assaulted last term. Working to feel comfortable in her own body or her relationship, she seeks help from Jean (Gillian Anderson) to find a way to return to her life before the assault.
The show does an excellent job here of discussing all the things about sexual assault that should be considered gospel but sometimes aren’t. Through Aimee’s sessions with Jean, they discuss victim-blaming, emotional support tools, and coping mechanisms for those that have been through sexual assault.
The most significant change this season is that Moordale school has a new headteacher. At first glance, she seems to be just what the school needs: cool, hip, and progressive. But as outdated rules are brought into place, and humiliating punishments are enforced, it’s clear that Hope Hadden is the new villain of the series.
As ever, ‘Sex Education’ provides us with the rulebook we wish we had when we were angsty, hormonal teenagers ourselves. It is clear that the language used in the series by the younger characters has been very carefully scripted, as we see a level of maturity and wisdom from these 17-year-olds that we don’t see in full-grown adults in the real world.
Arguments are resolved with empathy and understanding. Characters that are supposed to be ‘weird’ or ‘quirky’ end up being accepted entirely for who they are. These characters are more emotionally developed than any of us were at their age. And while some may think that makes the show unrelatable, I think it’s what makes it great.
We are essentially being provided free therapy while watching ‘Sex Education.‘ We are being shown how to deal with conflict effectively and prioritise and work through our own emotions. To be accepting of different people, to be open and vulnerable, and respectful of others. This season is one of the best yet because it is not just entertaining. It’s educational. We could all learn a lot about how to treat ourselves and how to treat each other from watching this series, and I seriously suggest that you do.