Review by Tatiana Miranda
When the raunchy British teen comedy Sex Education premiered on Netflix in 2019, most probably wouldn't have expected it to launch the careers of many of its stars. While a few members of the cast — such as Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson — were previously recognizable names, newer stars like Emma Mackey, Ncuti Gatwa, and Connor Swindells will likely view their time on Sex Education as their breakout role that landed them work on Greta Gerwig's hit Barbie. Due to the cast's success beyond the series, it was announced that Season 4 would be the final season.
The series centers around students in the fictional English town Moordale as they navigate their sexuality with the help of fellow student Otis Milburn, whose mom is a famous sex therapist. While the series has its fair share of dark moments — with a main character experiencing sexual assault and another dealing with a drug-addicted mother — it is ultimately a show that pokes fun at the wacky scenarios the cast of characters get themselves into. In previous seasons, sex musicals have been performed at school, and students have shared their craziest, almost comical, sex horror stories.
Even with such a large cast, previous seasons have worked well in balancing the comedy and the drama, yet Season 4 comes across as extremely rushed, and many of the comedic beats don't hit right. With the announcement of this being the final season and the busy schedules of most of the main cast, this resulted in a disjointed season that is never sure of what story it wants to focus on.
As with the previous season, Otis and his mother Jean's stories were the less interesting ones of the group. Meanwhile, recurring characters such as Maeve, Aimee, and Eric have more intriguing plotlines. Other characters like Cal, Ruby, Adam, and a new character, O, are also interesting narratively but don't feel as fleshed out as their counterparts.
With the series ending, many loose ends needed to be tied up this season, yet this season also decided to introduce new characters with their own share of personal growth. By the end of the final episode, any growth from Otis, Jean, Aimee, or Maeve comes across as rushed or unwarranted because the rest of the episodes were focused on conflict that wasn't relevant to the main characters. While it's great to finally see some of these characters learn from their mistakes (ahem, Otis), it comes too late in the series for it to be properly enjoyed.
Sex Education will likely live beyond its four seasons as it tackles awkward conversations around sex and being a teenager that other teen shows have yet to discuss, yet the final season is a disappointing conclusion that is devoid of any charm the rest of the series had.
Sex Education season 4 premieres on Netflix on September 21. All eight episodes reviewed.