Updated: September 18, 2021 8:33:03 am
Sex Education Season 3 creator: Laurie Nunn
Sex Education Season 3 cast: Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Emma Mackey and Ncuti Gatwa
Sex Education Season 3 rating: 3.5 stars
A new academic year has just started, the backpacks are ready, and well we are nervous and giddy with anticipation as we meet with the senior class of Moordale Secondary. So much happened at the end of last term: An aliens-meets-penis themed musical; the resident homophobic jock Adam Groff came out as gay and Otis had finally declared his —oh so obvious feelings — for the angry and hard exterior-ed Maeve. We all heard Otis’s heartfelt voicemail for Maeve was deleted by neighbour boy Isaac, who too had the hots for her. The will-they-won’t-they arc between Otis and Maeve is like the biggest question to have circulated in pop culture circles after Ross and Rachel in Friends. So, yes Otis and Maeve do meet in the new term, and it’s super awkward. But despite of all this, we are all happy to be back to school. So much has happened over the summer, Otis grew a moustache, Jean grew visibly pregnant, and Eric and Adam are a legitimate thing. Everything is not ha-ha funny, but almost everything tugs at your heartstrings.
Sex Education serves as a balm on our frayed nerves. The last time we met the gang, the world was still mask-less and the pandemic was the stuff nightmares were made of. And it’s a good thing that when we do meet them, Moordale, the fictitious, picturesque, untouched town somewhere in England, has remained inoculated from the real world.
In the aftermath of the fake chlamydia outbreak at Moordale Secondary, the sex musical and Dr Milburn’s attempt to get a comprehensive sex education curriculum in place, things have, let’s say, shaken up at school. We have a new principal, Hope Haddon who makes an entry dancing to a highly popular song, wearing a well-tailored dress, a slick haircut and sporting a lipstick shade that the cool kids approve of. Too good to be true, our inner student vibe warns us. And lo and behold, there are major Umbridge flashbacks, as Hope is on a mission to de-sexify the school. Uniforms are back, so is the ‘walk in a single-file’ rule, and the safe haven for all things decadent — the old, defunct toilet blocks — are also taken down. Abstinence makes a comeback. She must have taken lessons from Harry Potter, because her borderline racist, ancient approach to teaching that wants to fit students into mechanical boxes is right up Dolores Umbridge’s playbook.
Soon Hope’s diktats start to infringe on personal identities. Gone are Maeve’s statement nose rings and dyed hair, Lily’s cool alien-inspired hairdos, and Cal, a new student who identifies as non-binary, is forced to fit into the ‘girls’ line and toilet. Trouble soon starts to brew again in the hallowed halls of the school.
England, since the time of Enid Blyton, gets the schools — and the stories of Young Adults — almost right each time. Be it the Malory Towers or St Clare’s series, and even Harry Potter, the magic aside, who wouldn’t want to attend Hogwarts? The good streak continues with YA shows like Skins, Misfits, The Inbetweeners and films like The History Boys. Sex Education is just continuing the good work and building up on the foundation of this tradition.
Even though, yes, the show is about angsty 17-year-olds, who yes are obsessed with ‘w***king off’, their genitalia and are procuring information from not-so-reliable sources. But the questions and issues the show raises can be experienced by people of all ages. It does so with such warmth, grace and empathy, that we all sigh and wish loudly that we had an Otis, Maeve, Eric and even Jackson in our school.
Season Three deals with the sex, there are conversations galore about penis sizes, and sex as a cure for grief, and there is also a nod to self-harm. Due process is given to the fallouts of a sexual assault. Points are made about women’s rights, patriarchy and loving oneself, without ever being preachy and pedantic. But that’s been Sex Education’s strength ever since season one.
The overarching message in this season is that of friendship. Season 3 subversively upends the way male friendships are depicted in pop culture. It’s a heartwarming scene where Eric and Otis dance their way up the stairs as Eric finally decides to ‘go all the way’ with Adam. Generally male friendships are reduced to few nods and grunts, subscribing to the old adage of ‘men don’t talk about their sexual feelings about their significant other’. But no, Otis and Eric, they don’t hide their feelings from each other and it is super endearing. It warms our heart. Similarly, Aimee and Maeve, they too overcome their issues and hold each other as they process their respective boundaries. Season three is also a loud champion of self-love, but all of it just sneaks up on us.
Watch Season 3, and get enamoured by this beautiful series, and a scintillating third season. Perhaps it can teach our schools a thing or two. Oh, and one more thing. There are enough memes and gifs on the internet that tell us we should value people and friends who introduce us to new music. Sex Education has been that invaluable friend since their debut. The soundtrack for season three, continues the good work. Right from Nancy Sinatra to David Bowie, Queen to Duran Duran, they have it all. Just like school, something for everyone.
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