Sex Education Season 3: 5 lessons on acceptance

Sex Education Season 3 was, in a lot of ways, just a reinforcement of everything the Netflix series has already taught us. The eight latest episodes were just as fiercely feminist as ever, both in continuing Aimee’s journey of healing after sexual assault, and through pretty much everything that came out of Gillian Anderson’s mouth while playing our beloved Jean Milburn.

If the latest lesson had to be summed up in one word, though, it would most definitely be “acceptance.” If the streaming show gets us thinking about anything, asking any question at all after our short course in human relations, it’s simply this: What should we accept, and what must we refuse to let go?

The answers will be different for many viewers, but we can look to the students, staff, and parents of Moordale Secondary for guidance. Their stories should ring true to some of our own: learning to trust our bodies again after a trauma, understanding when a relationship just isn’t right, finding the voice to ask for (and accept) help for a very personal need.

Class is now in session. Let’s break down some of Sex Education Season 3’s biggest stories.

Sex Education season 3

Sex Education season 3

What we learned from Sex Education Season 3 on Netflix

Lesson #1: If you love someone, you have to be willing to accept the answer “no” when it means that “yes” would force them to put their feelings for you above their own well-being. “I love you” has to also mean “I want you to be your best self, no matter the cost.”

Coming into our latest binge, we were pretty desperate to know what would happen between Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Maeve (Emma Mackey). While the going was a bit rough for a while, everything worked out in the end…or did it?

Seeing Isaac come clean to Maeve was a pleasant surprise, and she seemed to be willing to forgive him so they could try for a relationship. Ultimately, though, Maeve and Otis found their way to one another.

But just when things were looking up, Maeve decided she couldn’t be with Otis yet because she wanted to travel to the U.S. for a Gifted and Talented program. It was a difficult choice to make (and watch), but it was the right one.

Sex Education Season 3

Sex Education Season 3. Gillian Anderson as Jean Milburn in Episode 5 of Sex Education Season 3. Cr. Sam Taylor/NETFLIX © 2020

Lesson #2: Women should not, under any circumstances, accept men’s judgment. See also: Pretty much everything surrounding Dr. Milburn’s pregnancy except what Jean chose for herself, her body, and her child.

All of Jakob’s obvious criticism of Jean’s sexual expression should have made it obvious that he was not, at all, the right man for her. But there was a baby to consider, a family Jean wanted to build.

Personally, I would’ve thrown the whole man out several times—especially after that fight in the car. Then again, Jakob at least had a touching moment with Otis while Dr. Milburn was fighting for her life.

So, maybe Jakob can stay. We’ll see what happens next, considering Jean’s reaction to that paternity test wasn’t exactly a positive one.

While Dr. Milburn and Jakob’s relationship has both its pros and its cons, the old white dude doctors Jean had to deal with during her pregnancy were just…totally horrible. It’s bad enough for someone working with pregnant people to offer his opinion on the “effect” having an older mother might have on the baby’s life.

But when he started ignoring Jean to talk to Jakob, as if she either wasn’t there or wasn’t capable of an intelligent conversation? Good God. Take away this guy’s medical license.

The only upside to the whole situation was getting to see Gillian Anderson absolutely rip the guy a new one using only her words…But we’d prefer it if women’s healthcare wasn’t far too often like this.

Sex Education Season 3

Episode 3 of Sex Education Season 3. Cr. Sam Taylor/NETFLIX © 2020

Lesson #3: Some people just do not belong anywhere near our youth.

Let’s just get this one out here before we say anything else: Moordale’s new Head Teacher was garbage on a lot of levels. It was obvious Hope completely lacked any kind of empathy for the students, whatsoever, and was willing to do anything for an image, no matter who it hurt or how much.

Is there too much power in multiple otherness for you?

With that being said, the worst thing she did was try to tell Cal that they should be wearing the girls’ uniform, when they did not identify as a woman. And…let’s just say we don’t use the words here that would be required to fully rant about the whole “Layla is the good non-binary” fiasco.

So, no. Just no to all of that.

Lesson #4: Sex Education Season 3 reminded us that we should never, ever accept the blame for the terrible things that others do to us.

As beautiful as seeing all the Moordale ladies support Aimee was in Season 2, it was equally important to see that one epic moment doesn’t erase our trauma. Watching her work through learning to love her body again—complete with vulva cupcakes—was incredibly powerful.

What happened on that bus was, as Jean told Aimee, “only about him, and it is absolutely not your fault.” This is probably one of the most difficult things to internalize after an assault, but maybe if enough people say it enough times, at least one person will accept it.

Lesson #5: Embrace your passion.

For Lily, it was her love for aliens and fantasy worlds, which she nearly let go of because it made her “weird.” Adam, it turns out, is really great with dogs. Otis, of course, is destined to become a therapist—as good as, if not better than, his mom.

Those things that set us apart, that make us different, are what make us truly special in the end. More to the point, they make us happy. Life is far too short to try to do anything other than chase them.

Sex Education Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.