The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
The hit Netflix series Sex Education graced our screens in 2019 and seemed to effectively change how teenagers were depicted in the media forever.
The show follows Otis Milburn, a student at Moordale Secondary School, who starts his own sex therapy clinic with his new friend Maeve, all while dealing with plenty of sexual struggles of his own. While he spends his time helping his classmates deal with problems related to beauty standards, peer pressure, and confidence, his mother, Jean Milburn, runs her own professional sex therapy business that is a bit more, ahem… legal.
Otis and Maeve, as well as Otis’ best friend Eric, help several of their classmates through the sex clinic, and the students at Moordale decide to celebrate their sexuality through protests and musicals when a new headmistress tries to shut down the business.
All of the chaos surrounding the students and the clinic results in Moordale being closed at the end of season three, and so the final season sees a blank slate for many of the characters… for better or worse.
When it comes to season four of Sex Education, it is widely agreed that the show got a lot of stuff wrong.
One of the best aspects of the series is its diverse range of characters with unique stories. The show has featured straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual, and nonbinary characters of multiple races, ensuring that all viewers feel represented. However, the show introduces over half a dozen new characters in the final season.
The show gains both transgender and deaf representation but is unable to tell the stories of these characters fully. With only eight episodes to give satisfying endings for the characters we’ve known for three seasons, as well as provide meaningful stories for new ones, the show essentially set itself up for failure in terms of getting it all done in time.
One of the characters who got the short end of the stick is Ruby Matthews, the most popular girl at Moordale. She went through an inspiring character arc during the first three seasons, especially as she owned up to her own faults and insecurities and let more people into her life.
Season four essentially removes much of Ruby’s confidence and development, though, as she spends most of the season following Otis around and hoping he still loves her. The only real storyline she had involved being bullied years ago by a new character, O, and this conflict could have easily been solved within an episode or two so that we could have seen a powerful friendship- rather than two women pitted against each other.
Sex Education let fans down with Ruby’s lackluster story, and it didn’t exactly make up for it with Otis’.
Otis Milburn has been one of my favorite fictional characters for years simply because of how relatable he is. He is awkward, funny, and kind and always works to fix his mistakes. He is essentially the main character, but season four presented him almost as a secondary character who only creates drama.
Otis’ final storyline followed him hurting his best friend, two love interests, and another student sex therapist. He didn’t give much therapy, and his ending wasn’t as meaningful as it could have been, as it focuses only on his romantic relationship. The only highlights for his character this season were his good moments with Eric, as they showed us the old Otis we all know and love. I would have loved to see his story end with a clear path to becoming a licensed therapist, or even joining his mother on her sex therapy radio show. But with so much of his character becoming only about his love interests, a satisfying ending would have been very difficult to accomplish.
Despite some of the less-than-satisfying endings, the show did succeed with two fan-favorite characters: Adam Groff and Aimee Gibbs. Both Adam and Aimee have been through a lot the past few seasons.
Adam has dealt with his parents’ divorce, his father’s despicable behavior, and the loss of both his work and education. In season four, however, we finally get to see him flourish. He has accepted himself as bisexual, his relationship with his father has started to be repaired in a healthy way, and he has found a job that he loves. After three seasons of watching Adam be miserable, it was refreshing to see him smile and have the happy life that he deserves.
Similarly, Aimee went through a lot in season two, when she was sexually assaulted on a bus. After partaking in one of the greatest cinematic scenes of female friendship, going through therapy, and working on herself through various means, Aimee finally finds herself again in season four when taking up photography. The final season has Aimee regaining confidence, speaking up for herself, and learning to love herself once more. I think everyone can agree that the scene of her burning the jeans she wore when assaulted and dancing around them as she takes photos was a pivotal one that will go down in history.
While there are plenty of areas that Sex Education could have improved upon during its final season, it succeeded in its job of telling unique stories relating to sex and relationships. The show includes realistic portrayals of teenagers and young adults, and many fans can likely say they learned a thing or two from Otis’ and Jean’s therapy sessions.
Would I have liked more development for some of my favorite characters? Sure.
Would I have enjoyed just one more scene of Otis and Eric dancing? One more flashy performance by Mr. Hendricks and Asking For Treble? One more simple sex therapy session in a dilapidated bathroom filled with asbestos? Definitely.
The final season of Sex Education might not have given me everything I hoped for, but it did provide important lessons regarding friendships, family dynamics, identity, and health. Now, I can only hope that more shows follow in its footsteps and tell the relatable stories that we all need to hear.