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Review: ‘Sex Education’ season four is unafraid to talk about the heavy stuff

Photos courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Netflix is no stranger to churning out an original series, many of which never see the light of a second season. But the final season of “Sex Education,” which premiered on the platform on Sept. 21, proved that the British comedy series rightfully earned its four year run.  

The show is well known for its open dialogue surrounding sex and relationships, particularly in the context of young people, and season four is no different in its shameless displays of the most intimate and embarrassing parts of the characters’ lives. 

Full disclaimer, there is a flaccid penis in the first episode, so maybe don’t watch it during your next afternoon lecture. 

In the fourth season, there are roughly twelve main characters with their own storylines, each of which explores topics beyond sex-related gossip.

Eric, an openly gay man and active church member, grapples with his Christian community’s issues with his sexuality. Another character, Aimee, processes trauma from a previous season in new, creative ways. Michael, the old headmaster and cold father to Adam, tries to better himself and reconnect with his family (writer’s note: this is by far my favorite storyline). 

From postnatal depression to abusive relationships, this season of “Sex Education” is not afraid to talk about the heavy stuff. What started as a show about high schoolers in dire need of sex advice has turned into perhaps the most honest and validating show about all things intimate and interpersonal. 

Though sex certainly remains a crucial part of the series, “Sex Education” is, above all, a story of self-acceptance. 

Since the first season, the show has made a point to be everything its namesake class in schools isn't. It encourages young people to explore sex safely rather than fear it. 

“Sex Education” is a rare gem, gracefully including LGBTQ+ characters without reducing their entire personality to their sexual orientation. The series succeeds in depicting both the fluidity of sexuality and the many different people who might identify as queer. 

One of the most gripping plotlines of this season follows Cal, a non-binary character struggling with their gender identity after beginning hormone treatments. In these intimate scenes, non-binary actor Dua Saleh champions a feeling of vulnerability as their character questions who they are and what they want.

Though queerness is central to many subplots in the series, “Sex Education” doesn’t take itself too seriously, instead poking fun at overt “wokeness” with the introduction of Cavendish College, a ridiculous student-run, gradeless college that prides itself on kindness.

It seems like the students don’t learn much at Cavendish, as they are most often seen doing yoga or voicing their disdain for drama, despite constantly gossiping.

“Sex Education” is self-aware. Season four displays the importance of understanding and compassion, while simultaneously poking fun at the hyper-sensitivity that often comes with these self-proclaimed safe spaces.

The only downside is the looming knowledge that the show won’t have a fifth season. It starts to creep into the last few episodes, rushing the resolutions of some smaller storylines. 

With so many storylines, it’s hard to care about all of the characters. Though each plotline had value, there were too many to invest in, and the show stretched itself a bit thin. 

Additionally, there is significantly less romance in this season. Maeve and Otis, formerly the show's main couple, are an ocean apart and terrible at keeping the sexual spark alive via text. 

This season is still wildly entertaining and heartwarming all the same, and somehow every character is relatable and easy to root for. 

All that said, “Sex Education” succeeded in the rare feat of knowing when to stop. While some of the plotlines didn’t end how audiences wanted them to, each story of the characters’ unique emotional – and sometimes physical – maturing says something important about coming of age, in all its insecure, painful glory.


@dthlifestyle |

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