By Lauren Durose, Co-Deputy Film & TV Editor
The fourth and final series of Netflix’s Sex Education is a mainly comical and gleeful collection of episodes that are punctuated by poignant moments of anxiety and heartbreak. It finalises the storylines audiences have been following since 2019, and delves deeper into relationships than previously seen, whilst continuing to articulate and highlight important themes.
The series sees Maeve having left for Wallis University in America, whilst the rest of Moordale find themselves merging with new schools. Aimee, Ruby, Eric, and Otis have all been transferred to the eco-friendly, manifestation-centric Cavendish Sixth Form College. The new school reverses power dynamics that the characters have previously been used to; Ruby (Mimi Keene) struggles in her attempts to establish herself at the top of the social hierarchy, whilst Eric (NcutiGatwa) instantly slides in with those deemed most popular.
Adam Groff (Connor Swindells) has decided against academics, instead finding his calling alongside horses. As his father attempts to better himself, we see new developments in their relationship. This series, more so than any of the previous, emphasises the plight of parenthood and battling through one’s relationship with themselves and how that has been transferred onto their children: both in Mr Groff (Alistair Petrie) and Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson).
The sex clinic becomes a battleground, as Cavendish already have their own therapist: O. With an election decided to determine who will be the singular sexologist, both Otis (Asa Butterfield) and O (Thaddea Graham) rely on dirty tactics and destroying the other's reputation in order to win – but of course, this backfires on both and they find themselves disliked by their peers.
Mid-series, the truest form of heartbreak is inflicted, and Maeve (Emma Mackey) must return home. The writers beautifully present the devastation that falls upon her family, and Edward Bluemel’s performance as Sean Wiley is one of the most notable. Even in these deep moments of despair, there are glimpses of joy, allowing audiences to crack a smile even in the heaviest scenes.
It is from this upset that Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood) finds her anger. She has been on a journey to heal from the assault and trauma that she experienced in the second series. Her creative skills have previously had their outlet in her baked goods, but with the help of Isaac (George Robinson), she discovers a talent for photography. The joy that Aimee exudes has always led her to be a fan favourite, and in this series, she continues her mantle as perhaps the kindest and most well-intentioned person on the show.
Isaac, along with a new deaf character Aisha (Alexandra James), alert the school to the constant ableism they are subjected to. Tensions rise as the disabled characters are constantly forced to exert more effort in their day-to-day activities simply due to the barriers society has created, this finally culminates in a sit-in protest.
Each character has their struggles in this series; Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) discovers a lump that he fears may be cancerous, and juggles with the discovery of who his father is. Viv (Chinenye Ezeudu) enters into a relationship which quickly turns toxic, Ruby is hounded by the reminder of the bullying she endured as a child, and Jean Milburn deals with post-partum depression, returning to work only eight weeks after her traumatic childbirth, and the tumultuous relationship with her sister.
A friendship that has been unwaveringly strong throughout the previous series is that of Eric and Otis. Yet in these final eight episodes, we see this tested. Eric finds himself with friends who understand more aspects of his life than Otis does. Eric addresses the differences they have, and how Otis has always been more preoccupied with Maeve and often neglects Eric in favour of her. Instead, Eric finds more comfort in his friendship with Abbi (Anthony Lexa) who understands his complex relationship with God and religion. In deciding whether or not to be baptised, Eric understands his purpose in life and decides what he will dedicate his time to. It is also confirmed that God is in fact a woman.
The final character who takes centre stage is Cal (Dua Saleh) who is experiencing both body and gender dysphoria. Throughout the series, they journey through spontaneous orgasms, developing a romantic attachment with Aisha, and distance from Jackson, coupled with the length of waiting lists for top surgery, Cal’s turmoil is evident and culminates in their disappearance. It is a moment that helps bring the entire community together, creating an epiphany for many of the surrounding characters.
Overall, the final series of Sex Education is overwhelmed with emotion. It tackles all forms of relationships: romantic, friendship, familial, exes with religion and trauma. It perfectly balances its typical, somewhat cringe-worthy, comedy with poignant pauses of sentiment that certify the finality of the show.
Featured Image: IMDb
What did you think of the final season of Sex Education?