With Moordale Secondary School sold to developers, Season 4 of Sex Education opens with Otis (Asa Butterfield) and best buddy Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) heading to Cavendish Sixth Form College desperately hoping not to be losers all over again. Otis’ mum, Jean (Gillian Anderson), though overwhelmed with caring for her newborn baby, Joy, decides to join a radio station for a dial-in therapy show.
Sex Education (English)
Maeve (Emma Mackey) meanwhile has joined an Ivy League college in America to study creative writing. While she and Otis are trying to make the long-distance relationship work, she is also writing to create material that would persuade her creative writing teacher, Molloy (Dan Levy), to offer her the internship that is guaranteed to get her in on the publishing circles.
Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling), the head-boy and swimming champion at Moordale, has a health scare and wants to find out more about his father, though his mums, Sofia (Hannah Waddingham) and Roz (Sharon Duncan-Brewster), are reluctant to share. Cal (Dua Saleh), the non-binary exchange student from Minneapolis, has started taking testosterone, which is playing havoc with their sex drive.
Adam (Connor Swindells), headmaster Groff’s (Alistair Petrie) son, decides not to go back to school and take up an apprenticeship instead, at his mum, Maureen’s (Samantha Spiro) urging. The popular Ruby (Mimi Keene) finds it difficult to break into the coven run by Abbi (Anthony Lexa), Roman (Felix Mufti) and Aisha (Alexandra James) at Cavendish. Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood) uses art class as a way of processing her trauma and forms a tentative friendship with Isaac (George Robinson).
Cavendish’s new-age approach of yoga, sustainability, positivity and shunning of gossip takes some getting used to, especially for the highly competitive Viv (Chinenye Ezeudu). Otis’ plans of running a sex clinic in Cavendish are nixed by the presence of O (Thaddea Graham), who has a massive social media presence and runs a successful sex clinic. Jean’s free-spirited sister, Joanna (Lisa McGrillis), has come ostensibly to help Jean cope but might be running away from problems.
A death brings the Moordale group together. Maeve realises her brother Sean (Edward Bluemel) is using again and not particularly reliable. Colin (Jim Howick), the science teacher and swing band conductor, plays a heart-rending cover of U2’s ‘With or Without You’, while his partner, Emily (Rakhee Thakrar), the English teacher who encouraged Maeve to apply to America, cheers him on.
Eric’s mum, Beatrice (Doreene Blackstock), wants Eric to be baptised, though Eric is torn between his identity and community, leading to one of the fun-est portions of the show — Eric’s increasingly-psychedelic encounters with God.
Sex Education looks at some of the issues one deals with throughout life, not just as a teen, including those concerning mental health, self-worth, parenthood, ambition, dreams and the search for identity. Bright and peppy, Sex Education delivers its homilies to the beat of pop songs and lump-in-the-throat moments. Adam’s relationship with his father, who is trying to make a difference, is touching as is Maeve’s coming to terms with her drug-addict mother, who still ensured there was food on the table for the children.
The acting and writing as always is top notch and at the end of the 85-minute season finale, one almost does not want to let the gang go. As the saying goes, however, all good things must end and so too for Otis, Maeve, Adam, Eric and Cal. We leave them in a place of hope, wishing the very best for the messy teens and grownups of Moordale.
All four seasons of Sex Education are currently streaming on Netflix