September 17 brought the release of season 3 of the highly acclaimed Netflix series Sex Education which BuzzFeed called “the horniest show on television” and Teen Vogue praised for its “depiction of sex and how vulnerable and honest and real it is.” It has also earned accolades for its bisexual and non-binary representation, as if that's the kind of education teens need.
While this show is TV-MA and inappropriate for teens, Jemima Kirke, who plays the new headmistress on the show, directly told Teen Vogue that Sex Education is “gearing it towards teenagers because we're talking about teenagers' and eventually an adult's sexual health.”
To recap, Sex Education is a British TV show about the fictional sex-obsessed Moordale Secondary School. The show follows Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) who secretly ran a sex advice business in the school. Otis’s mother Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson) is a prominent sex theorist who last season gave students unhealthy advice about sexuality being fluid. (Anderson herself has told her children they’re not allowed to watch the show.)
Season 3 began with an uncomfortable 2.5-minute montage of people of all ages, genders and sexualities having sex. And it didn’t get better from there with plenty of other raunchy sex scenes throughout.
The third season brought a new headmistress, Hope (Jemima Kirke), who vowed to get “the sex school” back on track. The students found Hope’s new rules restrictive and dangerous. What were these horrific rules, you may ask? Implementing uniforms and teaching an abstinence-based sex curriculum.
Hope separated the boys from the girls for sex education. This quickly became a problem as several non-binary students questioned which line they belonged in, with one exclaiming, “So, it’s vagina and penis line then.” Because, as you know, guys can have vaginas and girls can have penises.
In the boys’ class they showed a video which truthfully reported that "homosexual activities have a much higher rate of leading to sexually transmitted diseases." According to Otis, the video was "just shaming gay people" and taught “abstinence and homophobia, which is dangerous.”
In the girls’ class, a former teen mom told the girls, “Sex will ruin your life,” explaining, “After getting pregnant I had no choice but to leave school.”
Maeve Willey (Emma Mackey), who had an abortion in the first season, spoke up and said, “There are always choices. Women do not have to have children.” Maeve also insisted that telling students to refrain from sex “doesn’t work.”
The students weren’t the only ones objecting. In the 5th episode, sex therapist Jean confronted Hope about the sex education policies when they ran into each other at the OBGYN:
Jean: I’ve seen your new SRE [Sex and Relationship Education] curriculum. It’s a lot like you’re advocating abstinence to me.
Hope: It isn’t so much abstinence as it is about restraint, which I think is an important attribute particularly for teenagers who should be focusing on their education.”
Jean: Unfortunately, restraint doesn’t mix well with raging hormones.
Because, apparently, teenagers are animals who have no self-control.
In fact, that seems to be the main message of the show.
In the penultimate episode, the students hijack the open day presentation with a video of them dressed as penises and vaginas, talking about how proud they are of having loads of sex and how they feel no shame.
Video: Hi! We’re the students of sex school. You might recognize us from the press. We’re the deviant youths have loads of S-E-X. And catching chlamydia. And writing musicals about dicks. But I’m not embarrassed to be a student of Sex School. Sex, it’s a part of being human.
Investor: How did you let this happen?
Hope: I’m going to stop the video.
Investor: Do it quickly. Don’t make a scene.
Video: .... bodies and identities. Which is why schools need safe spaces for people to ask those things that some might find a little awkward, where there’s no shame, stigma, or fear. Because when shame is used as a weapon, it doesn’t just hurt people. It can damage them forever. But the opposite of shame is pride. And the students of Sex School are proud of things people like to shame us for. Because if Lilly Iglehart is a weirdo for writing short stories about aliens with penis hands, we’re definitely weirdos too. I love my clitoris, and I feel no shame. Ladies get your wank on. I bind my chest and I feel no shame. I have a hairy bum, and I feel no shame. I am literally perfect.
Hope: Stop the video, now.
Video: I’m great at anal douching, and I feel no shame. ... A lot of shame comes from old-fashioned views on sex. Sadly, schools have taught a lot of people to feel ashamed of their identities and bodies. The cycle continues today. But the world is changing, and young people have had enough. So if you agree that communication and empathy are better tools than silence and shame, then join us by asking your school for better.
This shamelessness leads to the school being closed down due to investors pulling funding and the land being sold to developers. This should be the end of Moordale Academy but, as the show has been getting rave reviews, it got picked up for a fourth season.
Of course. It’s Netflix. They feel no shame.