TV Review: “Sex Education’s” Last Season Was Deeply Disappointing
Abi Hilden, executive editor
CW: Spoilers for Season 4 of “Sex Education”
“Sex Education” aired its fourth and final season on Sept. 21 and as a fan of the show, I was pretty disappointed.
The season returns with the students of Moordale Secondary transferring to Cavendish College after their school closes down. Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) and Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey) are navigating the treacherous waters of a long-distance relationship while he tries to get his sex therapist gig going at the new school, Eric Effiong (Ncuti Gatwa) is still reconciling with his faith and his sexuality, Adam Groff (Connor Swindells) is reconnecting with his father while navigating his career path and Aimee Gibbs (Aimee Lou Woods) is searching for ways to work through her trauma. The show’s cast is rounded out by Cal Bowman (Augsburg alum Dua Saleh), Jackson Marchetti (Kedar Williams-Stirling), Vivienne (Chinenye Ezeudu) and Ruby Matthews (Mimi Keene) all returning. There are also new students at Cavendish and the adults as well who have their own stories to consider.
It is in this giant list of names and plot lines that I think the problem with this season lies: it bit off more than it could possibly begin to chew. With all of these storylines and characters, the writers were tasked with a huge balancing act for the season. However, instead of balancing things out by putting in time for the characters that fans of the show have grown to know and love, they chose to focus on the myriad of new characters they introduced this season. Almost every plot line of the season is tied to at least one of the new characters, with only some of them focused around the characters from the show’s previous seasons. The writers have thus put the show at a disadvantage because there isn’t enough time to flesh out the new characters or satisfyingly wrap up the older stories. As a longtime fan of the show, I was quite upset with the fact that this shift meant that a lot of things still remain ambiguous or not fully fleshed out.
Speaking of ambiguity, another point of tension that I felt with this final season was the lack of concrete relationships by the end of it. “Sex Education” is a show all about relationships and you’re telling me that by the final episode there is only ONE relationship that is pretty clear where it stands? And the relationship is between Aimee and Isaac (George Robinson) who didn’t even start interacting until this season? That’s bananas! It would be one thing if I was to complain about a show because the couples that I like weren’t endgame, but I think at this point I’d rather have any couples be endgame than none.
I will say that this season wasn’t all bad. Adam’s journey of reconnecting with his father was one of my favorite plot lines from the entire show. I also really appreciated Cal’s storyline this season as their struggle with gender dysphoria is one that myself and many others can relate to. Big shout out to Augsburg alum Dua Saleh, as they are a masterclass in acting and made me feel all of the feelings this season.
So where do I land with this season? There were some good moments but most of it was overshadowed by just how much was going on. If you haven’t seen the show before, my recommendation is to stop at season three and quit while you’re ahead — at least that’s what I’ll be doing every time I rewatch this show in the future.