Netflix has not yet announced the third season of Sex Education, but let’s put it this way: If the show doesn’t come back in session this year, fans will have double the reason to be mad.
Season 2 of the offbeat comedy ended on a cliffhanger — one that irritated if not angered many of its viewers. The show dared to tease the possibility of its central figures getting together, only to pull the rug out from under them. Hopefully, a third season will talk viewers off that cliff.
Why was ‘Sex Education’ popular?
The show’s title made it sound like it could be something more risque than you would usually find on Netflix, but the premise was unique: What if you had a parent whose profession was sex? And what if that parent was Scully from The X-Files?
No, she’s not that kind of sex worker. Gillian Anderson plays a sex therapist. Her son Otis is Asa Butterfield, whose credits include Hugo and Ender’s Game.
Without really intending to, Otis helps the school bully with his sexual performance anxiety. Then, Otis starts up a sex advice business with his classmate Maeve, played by Emma Mackey.
Audiences and critics alike praised the show for its honesty and level-headedness in dealing with the sex lives of teenagers without turning the material into something salacious or playing it for cheap laughs. That carried it into season 2, which boosted the stakes for Otis and Maeve.
Where did season 2 of ‘Sex Education’ leave off?
Otis got in way over his head. Although he and Maeve have good chemistry, each pursued relationships with other people.
Otis took up with Ola, while Maeve went for Jackson, a sports star. Otis steps in it first by getting drunk and lashing out at both Ola and Maeve, then he loses his virginity to popular girl Ruby.
Otis sees the error of his ways and decides to confess his feelings for Maeve via voicemail but it’s too late — someone else who likes Maeve intercepts his message and Maeve never hears it. End of season 2.
Fans were angry that the main characters didn’t end up together, at least not in the version they saw. A different ending was also shot, according to BT.com, and that version seems to promise an actual get-together for them.
Director Ben Taylor knew fans would be mad, but he says that’s why it works — it makes people want to come back and see what happens.
As for season 3, series creator Laurie Nunn told The Hollywood Reporter: “[Netflix] is very supportive and really wanting us to tell the stories that we feel passionate about. It really feels like we’re all on the same page, wanting to make the same show.”
Netflix recently confirmed the show would be returning for a third installment.
While Netflix has not announced an official release date for Sex Education season 3, fans can expect it in Jan. 2021. Why? Season 1 dropped in Jan. 2019 and season 2 made it grand debut in Jan. 2020.
Should romances be required to always keep audiences happy?
Fans get irrationally upset when romances don’t pan out, from Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca to Jack and Rose in Titanic to Mia and Sebastian in La La Land. But the best love stories tend to be the ones where the lovers don’t get together. The ache makes the relationship more bittersweet.
Of course, all those examples are movies and not TV shows, which play by different rules. The common belief is that if you keep “endgame” characters apart for too long on TV, that’ll sink the show. Viewers point to Moonlighting as an example, with the common theory being that once Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd finally did the deed after so much “will they or won’t they,” that ruined the show.
Critics Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall point out in TV (The Book) that this was actually down to other circumstances: “The audience didn’t flee because they got bored after David and Maddie hooked up, they fled because the final seasons went out of their way to keep them apart and everyone got frustrated waiting.”
Sex Education hasn’t had to deal with issues like that, but it’s a good bet that Otis and Maeve haven’t seen the last of each other, and we haven’t seen the last of Sex Education.