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Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Opinion: Sex Education fourth season: Netflix teen show releases last season with mixed reviews

Art: Jeslyn Chen

STDs, leaked nudes and the consequences of Viagra are just a few of the topics explored in Netflix’s British coming-of-age show “Sex Education.” Set in the fictional town of Moordale, England, the show centers around high school student Otis Milburn, whose mother, Dr. Jean Milburn, is a sex therapist. Since season one, Otis learns information about sexuality and sexual health through his mother’s job and utilizes it in a sex clinic at school.

“Sex Education” ran for four seasons starting in 2019 and the final season finds the characters entering their final term at Cavendish College after their old school, Moordale High, shut down in season three.

Unfortunately, the comedic show once filled with interesting character plotlines in the first few seasons has been diluted into a storyline with too many characters to keep up with and has artificial diversity in the final season.

At the start of the final season, Otis’s girlfriend Maeve Wiley is studying in America to pursue her dream of becoming a writer but struggles to keep her relationship with Otis afloat.

Otis has always felt like an ill-written character because he never really changes. At the start of the show, he’s selfish and thinks everyone should please him. However, he acts the same at the end of season four.

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His main conflict during season four is his petty competition with Cavendish’s sex therapist, O. Otis believes that since he’s the “original sex therapist,” O should quit and give him the position. His whole arc during this season revolves around him being an immature brat who has never been told “no.”

Additionally, Otis still overexaggerates that his mom is always out to ruin his life, he never improves his communication skills with his friends and girlfriend and he wants people to prioritize his wants over their happiness. For example, he wants Maeve to stay in Moordale for him instead of pursuing her career in America.

Too many times we see in the media that people, especially young adults, choose their significant others over their education or career and regret it afterward. Most times high school relationships do not last, but an education does.

After Maeve went back to Moordale for her mother’s funeral, she chose to go back to America, leading to her break up with Otis because they decided that long distance would be too difficult.

Contrastly, Otis’s and Maeve’s breakup was realistic, which is more important than purely satisfying the Otis-Maeve shippers. Furthermore, Maeve following her dreams and breaking the cycle of drug abuse in her family depicts an important message that there is hope for those in similar situations to her.

Additionally, the arc of character Adam and his father, Michael’s, relationship is by far the best in season four. It is touching, realistic and relatable.

The writers did well by writing scenes in which Adam and Michael finally open up to each other. We get to see both perspectives and many viewers would likely empathize with the strained family dynamic.

Adam’s choice of not continuing school and instead finding his passion through an untraditional path seemed very in-character for him. This demonstrates to viewers that school doesn’t have to be for everyone and there are other options.

Eric’s arc about his conflict between his sexuality and religion was a great idea on paper. It’s not a common issue shown in the media, but it definitely exists.

However, the scenes where Eric was having hallucinatory spiritual visions and personally met and spoke to God were so unbelievably bizarre. The style of the show completely changed, which was quite jarring.

Adding more types of storytelling is fine, but changing it the egregious amount that the writers did, especially in the last season of the show, is a risky move.

Furthermore, the students at Cavendish are extremely irritating and seem like a parody of a “perfect liberal school.” Everyone’s queer, open-minded, doesn’t gossip  and is eco-friendly.

While queer diversity in shows is definitely important, I think season four overdoes it to the extreme. Most new LGBTQ characters are very one-dimensional and seem to only exist to add more diversity, such as the new characters Abbi, Roman and Aisha. They barely have any backstory or character development.

“Sex Education” has mostly positive reviews. One review website, Rotten Tomatoes, scores the show 94 percent. Other online reviews have said that the show focused too much on sexual plots and unnecessary explicit scenes.

Palo Alto High School senior Rachel Ho says that she enjoys the show because it’s realistic.

“I think [“Sex Education] destigmatizes a lot of difficult topics, like the plotline about Maeve getting an abortion,” Ho said.

I don’t think it glamorizes anything that’s problematic and offers a realistic depiction of teens’ attitudes and emotions surrounding friendships, drama and anxiety about having sexual intercourse.

— Rachel Ho, Paly senior

One online critic complained that the show is too sexualized and should be more about teenagers being teenagers. However, in addition to the blunt title of the show, having plots centered around sexuality also allows for underrepresented sexualities and experiences to be portrayed in the media.

Paly sophomore Catarina Carbone said that the explicit scenes are true to life.

“I think the explicit scenes kind of add to the awkwardness of actual teenage experiences with sex,” Carbone said. “I don’t think it’s something we should shy away from.”

“Sex Education’s” initial premise of depicting common teenage sexual issues through character plotlines is fascinating. However, the writing of the later seasons unfortunately veers away from the original  idea. There are too many characters to write deeper stories about, which results in flat, boring episodes.

The show should have ended earlier. Maybe then, it would’ve preserved its original spark.