TW: Mention of sexual harassment.
Sex Education is a show we can all commend for its vastly successful attempts at crossing taboo boundaries and showcasing otherwise “hush-hush” discussions that other forms of media have spent decades and more completely avoiding. From giving us the literal sex education we never received, to sex positive attitudes, to not just visiting sensitive issues for the sake of a plotline under the pretence of inclusivity, but also adjusting to different discussions about consent and sexual assault.
Just like seasons one and two, Sex Education season three did not disappoint. In fact, it may have been the best season so far. The creators are going to have a tough time topping this one!
Season one and two had a lot of discussions we expected to see as a young audience. Sex, LGBTQIA+ representation, homosexual sex, role-play, asexuality, and the importance of a sex therapist and educator. Season three, however, dipped into the land we weren’t expecting to see. The discussion around sex positivity and the LGBTQIA+ community went on for a long while before we saw it make our way onto our screens (still not at an acceptable rate- just the bare minimum for “inclusivity” claims). The discussion around the non-binary community have taken flight just off late, and the show has welcomed the plot with open arms. And we’d expect nothing less!
The show started off pretty impressive, discussing female pleasure right from the get-go, and encouraging not “faking it” for the male ego. This is something that we haven’t seen much of on media platforms. As a matter of fact, we often see quite the opposite- an endless list of movies and TV Shows promoting male pleasure over female pleasure, and faking orgasms and lying about it. Season three started off with a breath of fresh air. Speaking of female pleasure, another interesting and rare notion we saw this season was discussions on mutual pleasure. In terms of sex, in terms of role-playing, in terms of foreplay, sexting, phone sex, you name it. We saw young couples overcome their fear and anxiety over disappointing their partners and making it clear what they like, and what they want to do.
In the last two seasons, we saw the common dynamic of the “popular guy, unpopular girl” relationship between Maeve and Jackson. This season shocked us all with perhaps the most unexpected relationship- Otis and Ruby. Which was a rare popular girl, nerdy guy dynamic- we don’t see it too often. High-key ship it.
Speaking of Jackson, every storyline given to him seems to make him a little closer to being the best character on the show- if he isn’t already. This season Jackson explored the compilations of a non-binary crush (and almost relationship). This was a particularly heartwarming scenario. Not because of the dynamic itself- but because of the side to non-binary people that we don’t get to see. We’re talking about the non-binary community, but we aren’t talking about how they identify with sexuality, and how they navigate relationships. This season gave us a promising look into what we can expect for the community next season.
Beyond this, we saw the ridiculous level of incompetence and non-inclusivity of the generic schooling system when it comes to non-binary folks. The flaw in the divided uniform system, male and female divided classrooms, and changing rooms. The story of Hope, the newest villain of the show starts off just like her name- hopeful! She’s young, seems cheerful, and communicative. Unfortunately, she ends up being the root of teenagers unhealthy relationships with sex. Not only does she preach abstinence and homophobia, and demands on educating the students the same way- but she also labels Cal as uncooperative and a ”problem” for simply not allowing themself to be bullied into picking a gender. Although she was deemed the devil of the season, she wasn’t completely villainised by the show- we all felt for her watching her struggle to get pregnant, and how she felt about herself and her womanhood because of it. On the other end, we go from watching a young woman struggling to conceive, while Jean (as an older woman) finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and in quite a sticky situation. This was an interesting turn of events for two reasons- one because we got to see not just teenagers but also full-grown adults navigating their relationship and having a baby at a later age than socially recommended (we even got to experience a quick glimpse of judgment in gynaecology); and two, because we see Jean going to couples therapy while being a therapist herself, which is an interesting concept.
Speaking of Jean and therapy, season three gave us two reasons to love her even more! Her sudden session with Mr Groff opened up the discussion of male emotions and toxic masculinity and how it is passed down from generations and takes work to undo. And her therapy sessions with Aimee were far from disappointing and also far from expected. After the sexual harassment she faced in the last season, we expected that plot to be dropped after a quick resolution. The show decided, however, to continue the healing process- which is great since it addressed that trauma takes a long time to get out of, and it isn’t just over and moved on from. It was also refreshing to watch Aimee discover that not all vaginas are the same, and build a love and fascination for vaginas from simply that perspective- fascination and appreciation. Admiration for Aimee grew immensely this season as we went through her trauma process with her, understanding her vagina, and why she feels so out of place with her boyfriend.
Another concept we saw this season, that a lot of people are probably unaware of, is an allergy to contraception. The show left us confused and questioning with the discovery that latex allergies are very much possible- and that other forms of contraception exist- not just for heterosexual intercourse, but also for same-sex intercourse. Different materials of condoms, and different kinds of lube- all while keeping in mind that condoms are super important for any kind of sex. Pregnancies aren’t the only worry that needs careful measures. STIs and STDs are common occurrences.
And finally, perhaps my favourite plot of any show at all is the relationship between disabilities and sex. A common assumption for those that are disabled, on wheelchairs and paralyzed is that they feel nothing sexually, and cannot have sex. The chemistry and eventual dive into a potentially sexual relationship between Maeve and Isaac is something that is such a beautiful and rare story. It’s sweet, and easy for the audience to understand. The show did a great job at looking into how and where you feel on your body as someone who is disabled, and how sex is beyond just penetration and genitals. It portrays sex as a connection, rather than an action.
By the time you’re done bingeing on season three, the one major question that comes to mind is when did we learn to be ashamed of sex, and why do we still practice the shame?