Sex Education season 3 review: Netflix teen comedy is 'just as fun as ever'

By Lewis Knight

It’s finally time to return to Moordale Secondary and there are some changes ahead!

Having found a warmth, quirkiness and appropriately open attitude towards sexual identities, Sex Education knows what works and continues very much in the same vein.

However, much of the new run is dominated by the arrival of chic headmistress Hope Haddon, played by a rather snarky Jemima Kirke, who proves appearances can be deceptive as she rolls back any progressive values at Moordale Secondary and rules with an iron first not far off of Harry Potter’s Dolores Umbridge.

Sadly, despite Kirke’s best efforts, the writing for Hope becomes rather thin and at worst seems rather dated in terms of her character motivations and issue transference.

Episode 3 of Sex Education Season 3. Cr. Sam Taylor/NETFLIX © 2020 (Sam Taylor/NETFLIX)
(NETFLIX)

Thankfully, her arrival does provide some of the more rousing moments with the students and helps promote the show's values even further.

However, there’s still much to admire from the new run, namely an expanded role for the Queen Bee herself Ruby Matthews (a wonderfully prickly Mimi Keene) as she grows closer to our de factor hero Otis Milburn (an ever lovably awkward Asa Butterfield) whose will-they-won’t-they with the ever whip-smart snd troubled Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey) proves as torturous as ever thanks to love rival Isaac (George Robinson).

Mackey particularly maintains the brittle strength and vulnerabilities of her character with a charisma that makes it unsurprising she is finding success in films.

Sex Education Season 3. Mimi Keene as Ruby Matthews in Episode 1 of Sex Education Season 3. Cr. Sam Taylor/NETFLIX © 2020 (Sam Taylor/NETFLIX)
Sex Education Season 3. Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong, Connor Swindells as Adam Groff in Episode 2 of Sex Education Season 3. Cr. Sam Taylor/NETFLIX © 2020 (Sam Taylor/NETFLIX)

Speaking of charisma, Ncuti Gatwa delivers fine work as Eric Effiong once again who is now in a full romantic relationship with Adam Groff (the excellent Connor Swindells) as he tries to turn a corner. While some of the bumps along the road feel more contrived than others, both characters are individually given the time they deserve in exploring their identity.

Elsewhere, BAFTA winner Aimee Lou Woods once again provides many of the laughs as Aimee who is still given touching material as she works through her past trauma, while Gillian Anderson provides an amusing journey through later-life pregnancy as Otis’ mum Jean.

(NETFLIX)
Sex Education Season 3. Aimee Lou Wood as Aimee Gibbs, Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley in Episode 1 of Sex Education Season 3. Cr. Sam Taylor/NETFLIX © 2020 (Sam Taylor/NETFLIX)

The show also provides even further diversity of character and stories, with the textured characterisation of non-binary student Cal (Dua Saleh) whose friendship with Jackson Marchetti (Kedar Williams-Stirling) is another highlight of the season.

Throughout all of the episodes, there are plenty of wonderful small character moments and plot threads that mean the instalments can feel scattered but never not entertaining.

Even when some plots may feel tired or unnatural and going through the motions (leaving you to question how long some elements can continue before the series ends), the show remains one of the best original shows that Netflix has ever produced.

Verdict

Sex Education season 3 proves the show is just as fun as ever with belly laughs and emotional moments in spades, even if some elements are a little too one dimensional and has the potential to frustrate.

Sex Education season 3 is released on Netflix on September 17, 2021.

What are you hoping for from Sex Education season 3? Let us know in the comments below.


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