‘Sex Education’ season three perfects the high school drama

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Photo courtesy of Netflix

Otis and Ruby from season three of “Sex Education.”

Sarah Gudenau, Features Editor

The long-awaited third season of the teen comedy-drama “Sex Education” recently dropped on Netflix on Sept. 17, 2021, and once again, writer Laurie Nunn just doesn’t miss. From the show’s expansive representation and accurate depiction of the awkwardness of high school to its absurd humor, season three was chock-full of everything that made the first two seasons a success and more. 

The show takes place in Moordale Secondary School in England. Main character Otis Milburn is the son of Dr. Jean Milburn, a sex therapist. Learning that he has a natural talent for therapy, he follows in his mother’s footsteps and starts a “sex clinic” at school with the super smart badass feminist that is Maeve Wiley. The two make an effort to help out the school’s insanely uninformed and misinformed student body — who suffer from the school’s lame sex education classes. 

The show can certainly be praised for its representation, with actors of color, students from different socioeconomic and family backgrounds and the whole rainbow of the LGBTQ+ community present. Season three introduces the show’s first nonbinary characters: Cal and Layla, a milestone in enby representation which usually doesn’t get too much screen time. 

It’s worth noting that its representation goes further than just having different people present without sufficient character development. For example, I love “Glee,” and its mark on television was certainly iconic, but it’s cornering to stereotypes left more to be desired from the show — “Sex Education,” on the other hand, doesn’t stop at tokenism. 

Season three also introduces an extremely hateable villain, new headmistress Hope Haddon. Determined to break away from the Moordale’s reputation as “Sex School,” Haddon tightens the reins, promoting abstinence in sex ed classes, publicly humiliatingly her students as “discipline” and refusing to acknowledge nonbinary students’ needs. She’s so detestable, right from her first personal interaction with a student when she microaggresses Jackson Marchetti. You’ll join teams with the students instantly and the season will have you wanting to punch your screen. 

Speaking of detestable characters, this season was full of twists and turns — more so than any prior season. Let’s talk character development. Without spoiling the specifics of those twists, I found that my favorite characters, Maeve and Eric, were heading downhill while more backstory was unraveled for Ruby and former Headmaster Groff, my previous least favorite characters. I grew to like them much more. Who would’ve thought I’d be rooting for Groff cooking like that? 

Another thing that I especially appreciate about this series is how they really capture high school students well. Actors who so obviously look 30 playing teenagers written by some boomers with gross misunderstanding of trends and language are so washed out. Let me tell you I was amazed to hear Eric use “camp” and to use it correctly. Too often are shows of high school students so inaccurately written. (See, “I beg your misogynistic pardon?”) “Sex Education” is really giving what it needs to give. 

The ending leaves room for another season, with fans excited to see the new Milburn-Jacob family dynamic unfold, hopeful for continued development of Groff and his relationship with Adam and curious over Otis’ messy love life. I’ll be eagerly waiting for season four of my comfort show.