Sex Education S3 (2021) | Review
The Revolution Will Be Televised
by Rory Buccheri
It’s the start of a new academic year and what better way to inaugurate it than by watching the new season of multi-million streaming hit Sex Education? This is a show we have showered in compliments before: I believe the words ground-breaking and refreshing were mentioned, even before the new seasons aired. The third season (now streaming on Netflix) does everything to confirm that diagnosis. Season 3 of Sex Education sees Moordale school rising from the ashes of sex school and truly becoming a Sex School in proud capitals. The feat of pleasing the audience was a hard one, especially with a fanbase divided between loving and hating the Adam-Eric pair and the troubled past of the Rahim-Eric relationship.
The writing of the last season wasn’t kind on main characters either, throwing Dr Milburne (Otis’ mom) into a thunderstorm, putting Isaac in the selfish, manipulative seat, and, finally, condemning Otis for the same crime. I believe the new eight episodes have done much to redeem these three characters, Otis in particular, by putting him in a timeline of character growth and staying true to his feelings. Without spoiling any further, I think this new season has kept its promises, especially in terms of character development and big choral scenes. If, in fact, there is one remarkable feature of this new instalment it is that all Moordale students finally come together to fight the same fight and contrast the same enemy. This choral moment gives the show an occasion to project out into the real world and address UK schools, advocating for sex positivity in the curriculum.
Much can be said about new head-teacher Hope, the villain of the piece: not exactly stock-type, but also not as nuanced as an irresistible villain should be. However, we get a chance to get some insight into her personal struggles, and the few lines she exchanges with Otis at the end, about how her generation (in their 30s) would deal with things differently, make an insightful and clever statement on the millennial-gen X generational strife.
Sex Education has gained a solid reputation by giving voice and screen time to stories that haven’t made it into mainstream media yet.
Season 2 saw an asexual character in the foreground and used Adam’s complex story to give bisexuality a stage. Finally, in season 3, we get to see non-binary and transgender characters: not just interacting in the background, but stepping into the foreground. The scene of the binding, of the passing of this object that makes Layla ‘glow’ (in Cal’s own words), is a master scene, full of lyrical beauty, camaraderie and, finally, representation. Honest, unassuming, truthful representation of a slice of the everyday for a trans character. If the scene of the bus (‘it’s just a stupid bus’) in season 2 went viral right after the finale aired, this scene equally deserves to make it to the top. It is a breath-taking moment.
The new season may lack those grand scenes that season 2 gave us, but it does not fail on the small gestures or the little steps that a good transitional season should have. Most importantly, it does not fail at one crucial thing: to magnify the personal and make it political. To quote another amazing queer show: I am not just a me, I am also a we; Sex Education has just accomplished that.