Sex Education’s fourth and final season unfortunately misses the mark in more areas than one. While there have certainly been worse final seasons, and this isn’t that bad, it’s too messy compared to the first three. In its attempt to go out with a bang, the series crams all sorts of heavy topics into an already-packed season, which leads to glossing over various storylines.
Further, while some of the new characters are fun, and their narrative journeys bring more nuance to the series, losing certain players from the past feels palpable. At the same time, there’s a significant disconnect throughout the series with overarching themes, making it feel like characters are living in different dimensions. If we sat here and listed every topic the season covered, we could fill an entire page. Sex Education Season 4 never needed to do this much—the series already had a strong voice with organic, inclusive storytelling, but it almost feels like it didn’t want to leave a single person’s experience out, which isn’t always necessary.
Sex Education Season 4 Does Too Much, Yet Not Enough Simultaneously
As a series, Sex Education is fantastic because it gets to the messy, chaotic parts of high school (secondary school) that other shows don’t cover often. It tells stories through relatable perspectives, allowing many people to feel seen and understood. And everything that it did never once felt forced to check inclusivity boxes. Yet, Sex Education Season 4 oddly does too much without ever fully sitting with something long enough for the audience to grapple with it.
A storyline that’s always stood out in Sex Education has been Aimee’s experience with sexual assault. No matter our sexual orientation, every person has experienced some sort of unwanted harassment at least once in their life if not more times. When the series introduces this storyline in Season 2, it does so with the intent to follow through with all stages of recovery, and in Season 4, it’s still a point of discussion that comes full circle perfectly. Because the show takes time with the arc, the payoff feels organic and earned. However, many of the newer topics introduced in Sex Education Season 4 don’t get the same treatment. They end as quickly as they begin.
While it’s not hard to understand why Jackson has the cancer scare in order to lead to his curiosities about his father naturally, the arc fumbles with a quick resolution. We see a good chunk of Cal trying to cope and understand their transition, but we also have no real conclusion as to how the story ends and where the character ends up. Yes, it makes sense that we’d see Jean’s sister and, thus, learn more about their family, but the show introduces us to a weighty topic of abuse and then attempts to tie it up with a phone call. Jean’s depression and having a baby so late in life is also something that deserves far more attention, and yet… We can’t just brush the severity of it away by noting last season’s near-death experience.
And then there’s everything with Eric’s Christianity and the decision to become a pastor. While it makes perfect sense in hindsight, especially if you’re a Christian, it feels so muddied and convoluted. Like all other narrative arcs this season, it deserves so much more exploration because we all know that churches simply aren’t this accepting. What a magical world we’d live in if that were indeed the case. (Was there a memo that went out in all writers’ rooms this year about psychics and divine interventions leading characters to where they’re supposed to be? Because, at this point, I’ve lost track of how many times such storylines were explored in 2023.)
Essentially, all these topics are profound and hugely important to cover—there’s no denying any of this—there’s also no denying that the writers and actors on this show know how to address them, but sadly, it falls flat. It’s clear that there’s always been a lot more ground to cover with this show, and perhaps they weren’t given the chance to do so. It’s clear that much of it feels rushed, and it wouldn’t shock me if networks are to blame. But ultimately, much of the overall season feels disjointed.
Now, when Sex Education Season 4 is good, it’s great. The tear-jerker moments are still incredibly organic, and I’m still personally floored by Adam’s character development. There’s still a lot of excellent material in the show, but it just doesn’t feel the same as it did before, and that’s particularly sad when this is when we’re meant to say goodbye. The new relationships that develop are wholesome, the friendships are worthwhile, the revelations are inspiring, and the conversations are poignant and profound, but the overall execution misses the mark.
Sex Education Season 4 is now streaming on Netflix.