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.