“Sex Education” season three: it’s not what you think.


Ali Smith, Arts & Leisure Editor

“Sex Education,” the Netflix original series that first aired in January 2019, follows the lives of teens from Moordale Secondary School and their hypersexual relationships.  

The main character, Otis Milburn, has long been accustomed to and familiarized with open sexual discussions, as his mother, Jean, is a certified sex and relationship therapist who treats clients from her beautiful home in the countryside of modern-day Britain.  

It’s as magical and ethereal as it sounds.  

Very quickly, it is evident that Jean, or Dr. Milburn, is a unique mother, and has an interesting dynamic with her son due to her sexual expertise and open-mindedness.  

Basically, Otis has no privacy and Jean is not good with boundaries, at all.  

With his relationship with his mother and experience with sexual knowledge and health in mind, Otis recognizes the need for his peers to have access to sexual and relationship counseling, though inexperienced himself. 

With this begins the premise for season one, and the rest of the show: Otis and his new friend Maeve Wiley offer secret services to the students of Moordale Secondary.  

Maeve, whom Otis has had a crush on for what seems like forever, becomes Otis’ partner in the whole ordeal. She handles the money and the scheduling while he provides the therapy, as she must provide for herself because her parents are MIA.  

Throughout the three seasons, the series presents bizarre relationship dynamics and intense peer-drama situations, which the characters must help each other navigate. 

In season three, Otis and his ex-girlfriend Ola are forced to coexist in Jean and Otis’s home, as Jean has become pregnant with Ola’s father Jakob. This is one of the main conflicts driving the season, but also helps reflect real-life family dynamics that exist in our ever-changing world.  

From the start, this has been one of the greatest elements of the series: representation.  

The series has multiracial main characters who represent the diverse world we live in today. This is more than a token character or two that we have seen in the past, but rather these characters and their race and culture are crucial to the show while remaining a normal element as opposed to an exception.  

For example, Otis’ best friend Eric is the gay son of Ghanaian-Nigerian immigrants and is very much in touch with his parents’ culture and synonymously his sexual identity. He is supported by his family, but they are only hesitant with his bold self-expression because they are aware of the violence that can be imposed upon those like Eric, especially in Nigeria. This danger is revealed in season three with the family trip to their home country.  

Eric is one of my favorite characters in the show simply due to his bubbly personality and his unwavering pride, as well as his unconditional friendship with his best friend Otis. 

In season three, Eric’s relationship with his previous bully, Adam Groff, continues to blossom as he helps Adam explore and become comfortable with his sexuality, which is admirable and unique.  

Another interesting element of representation in the show is that of Lily Iglehart, who since her childhood has been drawing and creating an alien world based around sex. Though she is bullied, even by her new head teacher, Hope, for her fantasy that makes her different, Lily remains true to herself as best she can, although she has felt intense shame her entire life internally and externally for her creative kink.  

This is important for the show, and its viewers, to help them recognize that no matter how bizarre their interests may be, it’s important to remain true to who they are and how they choose to express themselves. 

Perhaps the most important representation of season three was that of nonbinary student Cal, who is continuously bullied most shockingly not by their peers, but by their head teacher, Hope.  

Hope was sent to Moordale to revive its reputation after the rumors of its hypersexual school and outrageous art had spread throughout their county, so she aimed to unify and restructure the school, including imposing strict school uniforms. 

As a nonbinary individual, however, Cal does not identify as male or female, and thus does not feel comfortable in either uniform option.  

Throughout the season, Hope aims to impose the female uniform upon Cal, as that is their biological sex, which Cal and the rest of their peers meet with heavy resistance.  

This season-long conflict and discrimination incites important conversations about our changing world and presents relevant issues faced by nonbinary students in high school and beyond.  

On Saturday, just eight days after the release of season three, “Sex Education” was renewed for a fourth season, partially due to its soaring popularity and relevance, as it remains No. 6 in the U.S. after 10 days on the platform, and additionally because of its spearheading of these crucial social conversations in our progressing society.  


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