The third season of Netflix’s original series, Sex Education, is finally here. But it is not what I expected it to be. The series tries to improve itself in several areas but fails in many of them.
*This review contains spoilers for the Sex Education series.*
Sex Education was one the best Netflix originals that I admired. I couldn’t wait to see all the familiar faces again and see the path of their character growth. Unfortunately, the third season wasn’t as good as the previous ones. At best, the third season was mediocre, which is saddening because the previous two were nothing but fantastic.
Season 2 of Sex Education ends in a way that makes it hard to be patient for the next season. Otis tells Maeve he loves her after the party incident, but Isaac deletes the voice message. Eric starts a relationship with Groff, whose parents were on the brink of divorce. And many other stories that still needed to be told.
The first episode starts in a most Sex-Educational-like way—every teenager exploring and experiencing their sexuality. Then we see Mordale Elementry with its new headmaster, Hope, who becomes one of the weakest characters of Sex Education.
Since Otis doesn’t run the clinic anymore, another guy calls himself Sex King and gives people sex advice based on porn knowledge. Otis finds out about it but doesn’t tell anyone because he knows Otis and Ruby are together. Their relationship is one of those journeys where we had to wait until season 3 to see how things play out.
Otis and Ruby’s relationship was told beautifully, but I was shocked by how badly they ended it. It was obvious they didn’t belong with each other, and their breakup was inevitable. But the fact that we don’t see what Ruby goes through because of the split was disappointing for me. Ruby was in love with Otis, and after they split, we don’t see much of her anymore.
Maeve and Otis are the main characters of Sex Education and what we wanted to see the most in season 3 was their encounter after what happened in season 2. And I had to wait for four and a half episodes for this encounter. And I wished it was something relatable to their chemistry, but no, it was not. The first four episodes of season 3 are filled with unfinished side character arcs and introducing new ones.
This problem is actually rooted in season 2. In that season, we got introduced to side characters, and the writers decided to give them more screen time in order to flesh them out. The result was many unfinished and unnecessary characters arcs that needed finishing up before exploring and expanding the main characters.
Therefore in the first couple of episodes, we do not see many essential story facts and character journeys. They could have worked this out only if they didn’t add any more characters. There is Hope, the new headmaster, Layla, and Cal. Cal and Layla are introduced pretty well, but Hope’s personality doesn’t work out in the series. Apart from some scenes in the hospital, we don’t get to know Hope properly as we did Michael Groff, the previous headmaster.
If you have waited and endured the problems of the first couple of episodes, the series actually starts to improve a little bit in the second half of episode five. Unlike the first ones, the last three episodes were way closer to what made Sex Education beautiful to begin with. We finally get to see what is going on with our main characters. The characters we wanted to visit from the beginning.
Maeve and Isaac have a so-so relationship, which I think worked very well. It builds some momentum to keep Maeve and Otis separate for some time and cause a little bit of jealousy. It starts and ends at a perfect time, and I wished they used what they did with Isaac as an example for other side characters.
In the last three episodes, as some relationships work out, others become much more complex, but not in a bad way. These characters are not the teenagers we knew from the first season. They have grown, they have changed, and therefore, these changes affected their relationships.
In all these love stories, let’s not forget that Sex Education’s comedy was always good and still is. The only thing that made me endure the lousy scenes was the genuine comedy of the series. It’s fresh, funny, and intelligent.
I loved how they changed sex therapy to relationship therapy because every teenager realizes that sex is not everything after some time. Now that most teenagers like Adam or Otis finally understand their sexual sides, they fix the more complex problems. Eric and Adam are no longer fighting over being bisexual or gay, they try to learn if they genuinely love each other or not.
But Jakob and Jean, along with Maeve and Otis, have the best relationship exploration that Sex Education has seen so far. It goes deep and explores and explains. And their love story is unique, which makes them more authentic than other characters and couples.
In the end, Maeve decides to go to America just when she was about to start a new relationship with Otis. That departure doesn’t tear you apart because we didn’t see them spend much time with each other. If they didn’t give so much time to side characters and side stories in the first five episodes, we would have had enough time to see Otis and Maeve together longer, before their separation.
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Sex Education season 3 was disappointing. The characters didn’t feel authentic because there were so many of them and not enough time was set aside for the main protagonists. The primary and vital story begins in the 5th episode because of lousy writing. Wait until episode 5, and you will see some good characters and stories with an authentic exploration of emotions. I just wished they gave strong characters more time so we could enjoy Sex Education for what we love; its characters.