A sex education magazine – Yale Daily News

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Jaqueline Liu

I got a callback for the release of season three of “Sex Education” before I even watched the trailer. To put it simply, my expectations based on previous seasons were high and I was optimistic that the third season would meet those expectations.

For strangers – “Sex education” is a Netflix original series focused on the teenage inhabitants of Moordale (a fictional British town), as they navigate sexuality and explore intimacy in all its forms. This season pits the main cast and newcomer non-binary transfer student Cal (Dua Saleh) against new principal Hope Haddon (Jemima Kirke), who is taking increasingly tighter controls over student lives. Shame signs, school uniforms, and pro-abstinence sex education don’t stop Moordale Secondary from getting out of its control. Relationships flourish, feces fly away, and vulva cupcakes are exposed as tension builds over eight episodes.

Tonally, season three struggles at times. Heavy underline – the kind usually reserved for heart-wrenching end moments – seems to play out under every other scene. Meanwhile, the characters, while still convincing, are alternately overdone and toned down throughout the season. It appears that the actors and screenwriters are overcompensating for the breaking off of the COVID-19 shoot with over-the-top ways, which contradict their attempts to inject more “realism” into their actions. This sometimes makes the show feel like a caricature of itself.

Another major change is how easily the characters seem to communicate this season. For example, Adam (Connor Swindells) speaks openly about his aspirations after two seasons of playing the brooding and silent type. Meanwhile, Ruby (Mimi Keene), a supposedly mean girl, stops using the silent treatment on Otis (Asa Butterfield) and speaks candidly instead. It should be noted that this open communication matches the arcs of most of the characters, but developing almost all of these arcs in such a similar way, simultaneously, is off-putting. The show ends up trading its grounded tone for an easily resolved tension.

This season is different, for sure. However, once I got used to its little quirks, I found it as heartwarming as previous seasons. The communication styles of the characters, although one of my complaints, ends up bringing out a key theme – open communication and its importance in our lives. Combined with the writers’ choice to put almost all of the main characters in romantic relationships, this communication sets up a more mature message than in previous seasons. Sometimes relationships just don’t work – not because someone is wrong – but for reasons beyond anyone’s control, and the best thing people can do then is communicate honestly. It makes for a bittersweet season to the fullest – bitter with a sense of missed opportunity and sweet knowing this was the best and most honest outcome possible for each character involved.


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