‘Sex Education’’s finale waves an unsatisfying goodbye to our favourite characters

Spoilers ahead for Sex Education season 4

Netflix’s highly acclaimed Sex Education released its fourth and final season on Sept. 21. With the third season ending on a cliffhanger of paternal origin, a love triangle, and several breakups, fans greatly anticipated the fourth season’s answers to these lingering questions. Unfortunately, these answers were much like most women experiencing la petite mort—quite disappointing.

A glaring issue with the season is its shift in focus. When the show was primarily concentrated on protagonist Otis’ (Asa Butterfield) sex clinic in previous seasons, all of the characters’ issues with relationships and intimacy felt like natural obstacles in their life. In light of a season with more serious personal issues, the plotlines for many characters were stretched thin and lacked the engaging, meaningful development that characterized previous seasons. Many conflicts are resolved too neatly, with resolutions feeling rushed and unsatisfying. This is especially apparent in Otis’ conflict with rival sex therapist O (Thaddea Graham), which the show drags out for eight episodes only to solve immediately in the finale. However, with fans rooting for different relationship pairings, the writers clearly felt the pressure of trying to provide an adequate conclusion to its diverse fanbase. 

This season also introduced several new main characters who were not fully fleshed out due to inadequate screen time—ultimately distracting from viewers’ favourite Moordale personalities. While sometimes a fresh breath of air—such as Ola, Cal, and Viv—new characters can often feel forced. Season four aims to represent every single marginalized group, rather than properly develop or appraise them. Newcomer Abbi (Anthony Lexa) was kicked out of her home and church due to her transgender identity. In spite of these noteworthy hardships, the show barely delves into her struggles, leaving her extremely one-dimensional. Instead, Abbi and her friend group serve as a tool to create conflict between Otis and his best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) rather than serving the group’s own purpose in the plot. 

Many fans were also anticipating a conclusion to the tumultuous love triangle between Otis, Maeve (Emma Mackey), and Ruby (Mimi Keenee). No matter which pairing viewers rooted for, the writers failed to satisfy. Maeve and Otis spent much of the season apart, and Otis’ emotional development from the past seasons seemed to completely disappear, turning him into a whiny, uncaring boyfriend and friend. This lack of consistency undermined the emotional investment viewers had made in his growth over the years. While Maeve’s struggle with grief over the loss of a parent added a more sombre note to Sex Education, the show missed an opportunity to demonstrate Otis’ dedication to supporting her during this challenging time. This made the show difficult to watch, due to it hinging on Otis’ new inability to understand relationships and become a better person.

Nonetheless, the season still had some upsides. The relationship between Mr. Groff (Alistair Petrie) and his son Adam (Connor Swindells) stood out as genuine, providing a satisfying conclusion to their individual character arcs. Both Groffs’ storylines delved into the impact of toxic masculinity on sexual identity and relationships. Adam’s journey sheds light on the challenges many young people confront when accepting their sexual orientation, and Mr. Groff underscores the struggle to show affection in a society that often imposes strict gender norms. 

Ultimately, the final season of Sex Education struggles to replicate the humour and charm that made earlier seasons so enjoyable. It suffers from poor character development, unfocused storylines, and an overabundance of characters, which all lead to a subpar result. Many fans were left disappointed in the series’ ending and the development of several relationships. However, teenagers are messy and unpredictable, and Sex Education has always been a reflection of these flaws. Despite this reality, it is clear that in this case, fans deserved more thorough character development and conclusions to wrap up this series.

Season 4 of Sex Education is now available on Netflix

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