Sex Education season 3 review: A fun, raunchy and joy-filled ride
Netflix's hit series returns on top form as Aimee Lou Wood and Ncuti Gatwa steal the show once again.
It's been a long, hard wait for Sex Education fans, who've spent the last year-and-a-half pining for the Netflix comedy-drama's return, but season three finally launches on 17th September – and it immediately starts making up for lost time.
In typical Sex Education fashion, the season's first episode dives head-first into a montage of sexual exploits and now everybody's at it. Fittingly set to Tommy James and the Shondells' I Think We're Alone Now, the show opens with a sweaty Otis (Asa Butterfield) and a mystery woman (the identity of whom is revealed later on) steaming up the windows of a car before cutting to the likes of Eric and Adam, Ola and Lily, teachers Colin and Emily and a host of other characters as they all live up to the first part of the show's title.
Much like its predecessors, season three gets off to a characteristically dynamic start, dropping us straight back into the action with the slick, saucy and at points amusingly silly sex sequence (a drum kit, a pair of virtual reality goggles, an elliptical cross trainer and a luchador mask all make an appearance). The sex sitcom we all know and love has officially returned and once again confirmed that it's a show best watched without your parents.
After the frustrating events of the season two finale, which saw Isaac Goodwin (George Robinson) delete Otis's confession of love from an unaware Maeve's (Emma Mackey) phone, the new season begins with a new school year, although many of the Moordale students are back to old tricks. Otis and Maeve are still not on speaking terms, Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and Adam (Connor Swindells) are making progress with their romantic relationship, Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood) is still struggling to be intimate with her boyfriend Steve following the sexual assault she suffered in season two and Jean (Gillian Anderson) is now heavily pregnant and her ex Jakob (Mikael Persbrandt) is none the wiser.
While initially it doesn't seem as though a huge amount has changed since the last series, especially with the characters' time-ambiguous outfits back on colourful form, there are a few new additions to the show – and I'm not just talking about Otis' questionable new moustache.
More like this
With Moordale in a precarious place following the chlamydia outbreak of the year before and with the media now dubbing it 'The Sex School', we're introduced to Girls star Jemima Kirke as Hope Haddon, Moordale's new boiler-suit-wearing headmistress, whose seemingly laid-back attitude and cool demeanour ("You can call me Hope," she tells the students after quite literally dancing her way into their lives) contradict her hard-line school policies. Imagine the love child of Will Schuester and Sue Sylvester grew up to become an English secondary school teacher (apologies for the Glee reference).
We also meet former headmaster Michael Groff's (Alistair Petrie) successful, unbearable older brother Peter, played by the excellent Jason Isaacs, while musician Dua Saleh joins the cast as Cal, a new non-binary student at Moordale, with both making impressive Sex Education debuts.
The show once again does an excellent job of showcasing its lesser-seen, supporting characters, who are still in need of sex advice, particularly with Otis and Maeve now retired from their clinic side-hustle. There's a side-splitting scene starring Lino Facioli's Dex Thompson in the season three premiere that is a particular highlight.
- You can hear Sex Education’s Gillian Anderson and Jason Isaacs talking to RT’s Jane Garvey on the Radio Times Podcast
As for our Moordale favourites, Aimee Lou Wood is on track for another BAFTA with her performance as the hugely entertaining Aimee, whose '70s-style curls are bobbing alongside an animal sidekick this series after she adopts a "commitment goat" with boyfriend Steve. Consistently landing her chuckle-worthy lines whilst exploring Aimee's sexual trauma following the bus incident, Wood is once again a major player in season three. As is Ncuti Gatwa, who continues to steal the show as the infectiously energetic Eric, while his effortless chemistry with Asa Butterfield is still a driving force behind the comedy-drama.
There's very little to complain about when it comes to Sex Education's third outing and those who loved the first and second seasons will be thrilled with the upcoming episodes, which set the same raunchy tone and tell similarly important stories about adolescent love. With the Moordale chlamydia outbreak well and truly over, the only thing season three will be spreading are heartwarming moments and an unsurprising amount of charm.