Despite its name and the impression one might get from such a name, Sex Education has always been a show about emotions. Perhaps it is fitting considering the show’s main characters all teenagers, and the show takes great pains to show not just their sexual and romantic escapades, but the feelings of the people behind those escapades, as it should. Season 3 of the show goes even deeper on the feelings, with all characters, and in doing so, delivers now just new favorites, but an even more interesting show than before.
This isn’t to say Sex Education wasn’t already good, or that the show hasn’t been on an upwards trajectory from the beginning. But the more time you spend with characters the more they grow, and the more you see them grow, change, make mistakes and learn and try again, the more you relate. That’s the point of storytelling, after all. To make us feel things.
Good or bad, there’s a lot of that in Sex Education season 3 – and not just in the usual places, either. Presumably a show centered around Otis Milburn, the truth of this show has always been that the characters around Otis have mostly outshone him. We like Otis, and we relate to him, but I’m not sure many people would have named him as their favorite, at least not till this season.
Because Otis’ arc is one of the most interesting – and well crafted – things about season 3, and yet, somehow, he isn’t the most important part for me. Yes, I do believe people will like him more. Maybe he will jump near the top of some people’s favorite lists. But there are still so many other stories around him that are so much more engaging, and different. And Otis …well, I don’t think he would mind sharing the spotlight.
Not with Maeve, at least. Ironically, though she was my favorite character in the first two seasons, Maeve isn’t the character I want to highlight either. I still truly appreciate the character, and I believe she and Otis are truly the emotional center of this show. Plus, there’s growth. So much. And hopefully there will be more to come because I cannot imagine this show without a season 4.
For now, I want to focus on four specific characters who made the season for me, and they might not be who you expect. The first one is Adam, someone who probably had the biggest chance at growth presented to anyone in this show, if nothing else because he came from so far down. Adam isn’t a character I expected to like much less ever root for. And yet the storytelling took him to such vulnerable places that I found myself caring against my will, and ultimately, rooting for him – not just romantically, but as a person who still has a lot to learn.
Then there’s a new character – Cal – who I cannot discuss as much as I would want to, but who delivered some of the emotional high points of an already emotional season, and who came to feel as indispensable to me as the characters who were there from the beginning.
Finally, there’s two very different women, at two different stages of their life – Aimee and Jean. Perhaps with Jean there’s no surprise, I’ve been a Gillian Anderson fan for most of my life (hello, The X-Files pain), and I have always particularly loved her version of Jean. But I have never looked at Jean as the kind of iconic role that Gillian has been so adept at playing, at least not till now. And though there’s a lot of that that can be chalked up to Gillian’s innate ability to embody a character, there’s also a lot of great writing when it comes to Jean, particularly in season 3, where she gets to be more vulnerable than she has ever been before.
Then there’s Aimee, perhaps the most misunderstood character in this show. Aimee was at the center of the best storyline in Sex Education season 2, and the fallout from that continues into Season 3. What the show does with it, though, is not just external, but internal, and the feelings – and conversations – it opens up make Aimee perhaps the most relatable character in a show full of relatable moments and emotions.
Finding just four characters to elevate in Season 3 of Sex Education wasn’t easy. That should tell you all you need to know about the quality of what’s coming. And one thing is for sure: whether you’re watching for the romance, for the character, for the emotions or for the sex, this season has something for absolutely everyone.
Season 3 of Sex Education will be available on Netflix September 17th.