The first season of Sex Education was one of my favorite shows of 2019. Laurie Nunn's relentlessly enchanting coming-of-age dramedy was an invigorating mix of feel-good humor, beating-heart sincerity, and John Hughesian pluck. I was 100% invested in Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Maeve's (Emma Mackey) relationship, entranced by the show's undeniably talented ensemble, and summarily smitten by Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) serenading Maeve with his own adorable rendition of Billy Ocean's "Love Really Hurts Without You. " While I enjoyed the second season of the series, it didn't quite have the same spellbinding charm that made Season 1 such an enjoyable streaming experience.
The third installment of Sex Education, which premieres Friday, September 17 on Netflix, is a true return to form, delivering a wildly entertaining season of television that will make you feel the full spectrum of emotions.
I'm legitimately excited for fans to devour the new season. Sex Education is no stranger to creating memorable musical moments, but the season-opening montage not only provides a fun, sexy recap, but it's also a necessary reminder of the swashbuckling confidence of the writing staff. Season 3 begins with Otis embracing casual sex as he attempts to conceal the identity of his secret hookup, Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and Adam (Connor Swindells) navigating their new romantic relationship, Jean (Gillian Anderson) dealing with her pregnancy, Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood) discovering feminism (and the joys of being a pet parent), Jackson getting a crush on a new student, Mr. Groff (Alistair Petrie) adjusting to life outside of Moordale, and the introduction of the school's new headteacher Hope (Jemima Kirke).
And, yes, Otis' lost voicemail to Maeve is eventually addressed.
The new season of Sex Education is a feel-good celebration of the awkwardness of adolescence. The new episodes pack an emotional wallop as Nunn deftly blends sly humor with the specific yet universal complexities of being a teenager. The two main takeaways I can share without spoiling the season is that the series makes a concerted effort to embrace its talented ensemble, and Jemima Kirke's Headmistress Hope is the perfect foil for the students of Moordale. While the character of Hope ostensibly serves as an antagonist, she's written as a nuanced authority figure with clear goals and a specific point of view. Her journey from Episode 1 to Episode 8 elicits antipathy, sympathy, and everything in-between.
Fans understandably want to know about the Otis and Maeve of it all, but Season 3 does a masterful job of also making you care about each member of the supporting cast. Everyone in the ensemble gets a chance to shine as we learn more about Isaac (George Robinson), Rahim (Sami Outalbali), Viv (Chinenye Ezeud), Maureen Groff (Samantha Spiro), Ruby (Mimi Keene), and Lily (Tanya Reynolds). The series is so replete with complex characters that Mr. Groff - Mr. freaking Groff?! - was involved in one of my favorite storylines of the season.
Sex Education continues to exceed expectations for many reasons but chief among them is the writing. Yes, the creative team crafts lyrical dialogue and humorous bits, but the show resonates with viewers because of the exceptional characters and painfully realistic storytelling. Who would have thought that the gruff Adam Groff we met in the pilot would morph into the same character who publicly declared his feelings for Eric during the school musical in the second season finale? Sex Education has no shortage of standout performances, but Connor Swindells is the breakout star of Season 3. The Adam/Eric relationship provides both Swindell and the always terrific Ncuti Gatwa with plenty of rich material, but Adam's journey is one of the most satisfying stories of the season.
The new season of Sex Education is an absolute joy to watch. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry, and even after eight (almost) hour-long episodes, it'll somehow still leave you wanting more.The new season of Sex Education premieres Friday, September 17 on Netflix. Stream Sex Education on Netflix