I’ve always enjoyed Sex Education in a rather casual way. I started watching because I will watch anything Gillian Anderson is on, and I continued because the characters – more than the storylines – caught my attention. At first, though, I admit I didn’t love anyone. I was just …interested in them. And then, some of them started to become dear to me.
Season 3, however, has changed the ballgame completely. I went from more or less a casual fan to someone who couldn’t even conceive of stopping after one episode, or two. I needed to know more, I needed to spend more time with these people. And I didn’t just like them or find them mildly interested, I was invested in them.
A part of this can be chalked up to growth. Some character’s arcs have been stupendous and by season 3 we’re seeing the payoff of everything that has been laid out. A part of it, however, is just great writing and yes, some pretty outstanding performances.
So, allow me to examine it all. The good, the bad and the hilarious of Sex Education season 3:
OTIS: I know, I know. Big words. But Otis – the main character we always kinda root for and also kinda want to shake some common sense into – had some of his best character moments in season 2. Not all of it was perfect, of course. He was unfair to his mom, incredibly unfair, and he was selfish for most of the season before he truly understands what he was meant to do. But he still had enough good moments, moments where he made you feel, to get you rooting for him, something I’d had a hard time doing before.
MAEVE PUTTING HERSELF FIRST: Maeve has been my favorite character in Sex Education from the beginning, and I really enjoyed how the show in season 3 didn’t just focus on her relationship with Otis, but also dedicated some time to her complicated family life. She made the hardest decision about her mom, and she did it for her sister, but she also did it for herself. And choosing to say yes to Anna, and then later, to the program, was a great moment of self-growth for a girl who never thought she was important enough to make herself a priority.
MICHAEL GROFF: Top on the list of characters I never thought I could ever like sits Michael Groff, and that the show was able to get him to a point where I actually hope I get to continue seeing his growth is almost a miracle.
THE ENTIRE NEW HEADMISTRESS STORYLINE: Not for the sake of Hope, no. Hope was horrible. But the way the school was able to come together, the way students supported each other, cheered each other on …that was really, really good, even if it only caused more trouble.
RAHIM AND ADAM’S FRIENDSHIP: The show did a real good job in season 3 of continuing the development of Adam outside of his relationship with Eric, and one of the most surprising, yet heartwarming parts of it was Adam and Rahim finding a common ground, despite their differences.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
ERIC AS A BOYFRIEND: Eric was a good friend to Otis; I’ll give him that. He was a shit boyfriend to Adam, however. Not because he wanted something different than Adam did, no. Because of the way he behaved in Nigeria, because he didn’t tell Adam until he saw Adam couldn’t be what he wanted him to be – not yet, so that meant he had to precipitate a breakup. He was unfair to Adam in every way, and setting him free was probably the best thing Eric could have done, for both of them.
THAT DNA TEST: We don’t really know that Jean’s baby isn’t Jakob’s, but it certainly seems that way. If so, then …what was even the point of the season? Why did I get invested not just in Jean and Jakob as a couple, but in the family unit they’d created? It just feels awfully cruel, and one of those things that is more about shocking the audience than any interest in telling a compelling story.
Just give Gillian Anderson an award. Another award. All the awards. Jean went through the ringer this season, and Gillian made us feel every second of what she was feeling, in the most honest way possible. Only a gifted performance can embody every character in the way Gillian does, and that I adore Jean the way I do, that I root for her, and that I don’t see one of my favorite characters in TV history – Dana Scully – when I see her, well …that speaks to the power of Gillian’s performance.
Seriously, an award? Ten?
AIMEE: The way she grew. The way she stood up for herself. The way she was a good friend. There’s nothing about Aimee’s storyline I would change. Nothing.
ADAM: It was a hard season for Adam, but it was also one of finding who he is outside of his relationship with Eric. And guess what? He’s a damn fine character, that’s who he is.
CAL: Their journey was one of the most honest things an already honest show has ever done, and it was inspiring to see Cal as a role model, yes, but also as someone who can have fun, someone who can love, and also someone who can ask for more for themselves.
ERIC/ADAM: Dead in the water, and right now, we don’t want it to be revived. Adam deserves better.
MAEVE/OTIS: On an indefinite pause, but we’re pretty sure this is going to pick back up if (when, please) Sex Education returns for season 4.
JEAN/JAKOB: Good for now, but boy, if that DNA test says what we think it says then that’s gonna go down in flames.
LILY/OLA: Better than at any point in this season, so yay, they win!
JACKSON/CAL: Officially not an item, though we’re not giving up on them.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Sex Education season 3? Share with us in the comments below!
Sex Education season 3 is available to stream on Netflix.
I am here to share an opinion on Eric and Adam. As much as i liked Eric the first two seasons, I hated him in season 3. And I completely agree with you: he was a shit boyfriend. When you get together with someone you already know for some time, you might get a taste of what problems could come up in the relationship. And in this case you have to take it into account when entering this relationship, otherwise you wouldn’t do your partner justice. I‘m not mad either at Eric seeing that he wants something else, but throughout this entire season I always had the impression that Eric subconsciously made Adam feel like he was not good enough for Eric and that Eric more than once felt embarrassed by Adam. Eric didn’t support Adam or respect that he found himself in a whole different place regarding his coming out, no, he always reacted frustrated or annoyed and didn’t really take Adam‘s feelings into account. This is really a shame since Adam turned out to be (I sensed it) a genuinely loving and gentle partner who was, to sum it up, definitely more mature in this relationship than Eric. He listened to Eric and tried to understand what and how he can do better. Eric didn’t do the same. He didn’t listen to Adam, always making Adam feel like he and his problems are a burden for Eric. And he never said sorry once.
To sum it up: it is a shame to say that Eric appearantly is more superficial than I thought he was. All he cares about is Eric, Eric, Eric. And he’s not straightforward. Ironically he also treated Rahim like shit. I like this new arc that Adam and Rahim bond over their relationship with Eric. I really didn’t like Rahim that much in the second season, because he was too wanna be intellectual for me, but THAT scene in the bus was hilarious and showed that the apparently perfect guy also can find himself in some awkward situations. And Rahim – we have to say it – has a sense for depth, a sense that – we did see it in season 2 – Eric didn’t have. Eric didn’t really understand his poems or what authors he cited. Adam maybe didn’t either but I love to see that Rahim, even though he was never tired of expressing his prejudice against Adam, was mature enough to realize it and even get over it. And as he has a sense for depth he also had a sense for Adam‘s inner depth and realized -very correctly and maybe to his own wonder- that there’s more than meets the eye. I could imagine that maybe even (and I’d never have expected that) these two will get together at some point or at least form a very deep friendship. I got the feeling though that Rahim was starting to fall for Adam … HARD. At least that is what it looked to me in the end when he read Adam‘s poem. And sex education is a fucking masterpiece for making me buy it. I could totally imagine them both having the slow burn with each other and forming a couple that could be really healthy and nurturing for both of them. In fact Rahim and Adam are both huge romantics and very open and unfiltered about their feelings. Let’s see what happens next …