The hit Netflix show “Sex Education” has returned for its fourth and final season with a bittersweet ending. The popular teen comedy has been known to tackle many real-world issues during its four-year run, and the final season was no different. From trans rights to postpartum depression, the show is not afraid to acknowledge what many other shows can’t — that people are complex.
The show is led by an ensemble cast that includes actors Asa Butterfield (Otis Milburn), Emma Mackey (Maeve Wiley), Ncuti Gatwa (Eric Effiong) and Gillian Anderson (Jean Milburn). Many actors from previous seasons such as Mimi Keene (Ruby Matthews) and Aimee Lou Wood (Aimee Gibbs) reprised their roles as well.
Season four picks up from where it left off in season three, with the students of Moordale Secondary School wondering what will happen next as their principal has been fired and the fate of the students’ futures hangs in the air.
While season four may not have delivered on the plot in a way that it did for the past three seasons, it did provide character development for characters such as Aimee and Maeve, and left its mark on viewers by raising awareness on real-world issues that many teens and adults face every day. Season four mainly focuses on the characters’ personal issues and their interpersonal relationships.
The show’s final season no longer chooses to make Otis and Maeve’s story the center of attention. This season, their romance took a step back to let other characters’ stories have a bigger arc, such as putting more attention to Aimee’s journey to recovery after being a victim of assault in the previous season and Cal Bowman’s (Dua Saleh) journey as they begin transitioning.
The show no longer lives under the illusion that “love conquers all” as many TV shows do. Instead, it chooses to focus on the harsh realities many teens face not only in the United Kingdom but throughout the world, and how nothing in life can simply be fixed with optimism and hope. Rather, season four emphasizes knowledge, awareness and acceptance of the changing world that these characters experience.
Each character in this season undergoes a journey of not only self-discovery but of self-acceptance. From the beginning, “Sex Education” made it its mission to tell audiences that the most important thing in life is not about how popular you are or your social status, but rather, allowing yourself to accept the person you are and be willing to continuously grow with yourself.
Individual storylines were a staple throughout the season as each character’s storyline began to wrap up the journeys that they have been following since season one. Characters interacted with each other on a more personal level this season as they began to understand each other and themselves more deeply.
The show goes back to basics when it comes to human connection and the importance of having someone to talk to. It seems quite trivial when compared to the topics of sexuality, but it is just as essential to maintain human connection as it is to have self-acceptance. Vulnerability is not something many characters feel comfortable with — Maeve, Aimee and Eric are all prime examples of this struggle. As the show progressed and reached its final season, they all underwent significant character development and growth despite facing many setbacks between seasons one and four.
During the final episode of the season, Eric decides to come out to his church as he finally feels comfortable with himself and his identity to realize that what matters most is his own self-acceptance. Aimee also reached the point in her journey that she now felt comfortable and confident in herself to take back the autonomy that was taken from her in the previous season and allow herself to explore the things that make her happy. Lastly, Maeve allows herself to accept that she has feelings and that she can experience both the good and bad. Her experiences in life, though harsh, have led her to where she is and allowed her to become the person that she has always wanted to be — someone who can be vulnerable to those she loves.
“Sex Education” has been known since its debut as the show that provided valuable information about the realities of sexual intimacy and the importance of relationships and human connection. Its final season ensured that its legacy and lessons won’t be forgotten by audiences worldwide.