The final season of Sex Education has landed, and the reviews are in: ‘A spectacular send-off’

A promotional image for Sex Education season 4.

After weeks of edging us, Sex Education has finally reached its climax as the fourth and final season lands on Netflix.

The teen sex comedy has been on our screens for almost five years now, and created some of the decade’s biggest breakout stars – Ncuti Gatwa, the future Doctor Who star that you are – but the time has finally come to say goodbye to Moordale.

Following the closure of Moordale Secondary School at the end of season three, Sex Education season four opens with Otis (Asa Butterfield), Eric (Gatwa), Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood), Ruby (Mimi Keene) and the gang having relocated to Cavendish Sixth Form College – a Gen-Z hang out spot disguised as a school.

Otis is struggling both personally and professionally; his sort-of girlfriend Maeve (Emma Mackey) is at writing college in the US, and the sexual tension between them is, well, a little flaccid. At Cavendish, he’s trying to carve space as the new sex therapist on campus, but there’s a little passive aggressive competition from the school’s mysterious, existing sex specialist.

Eric is trying to contend with his religion and his queerness, examining whether they can intersect with one another, while also buddying up with new trans power couple Abbi (Anthony Lexa) and Roman (Felix Mufti).

Aimee and Isaac (George Robinson) are spending a lot more time together, Adam (Connor Swindells) is navigating life as an openly bisexual man outside of school, Cal (Dua Saleh) is contemplating taking the next step on their gender identity journey, and Jean (Gillian Anderson) is struggling with life as a single mother under pressure. Dan Levy and Hannah Gadsy also guest star.

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Essentially, the final season has a lot to tie up. Now, as the season’s first reviews are released into the world, there are lots of thoughts about whether or not the writers have managed to do just that.

Chase Hutchinson, writing for Collider, dubs the final season as a “spectacular send-off” for one of Netflix’s best ever original series. Thanks to season four still being chocked full of “side-splittingly funny” random gags, but also having “grown up a bit” and tackling more sombre issues – disability and accessibility, gender identity, trauma, bullying, addiction and familial tragedy – the Sex Education closer is “magnificent”, Hutchinson writes.

Ncuti Gatwa as Eric (L) and Asa Butterfield as Otis (R) in Sex Education season four
Ncuti Gatwa as Eric (L) and Asa Butterfield as Otis (R) in Sex Education season four. (Netflix)

Similarly, writing for ScreenRant, Alex Harrison praised the show’s “bold, in-your-face approach” to writing scenes and storylines on social issues, while the mammoth, film-length final episode “does right by its characters”.

Jasmine Valentine, writing for Dexerto, expressed that the final season makes for a “surprisingly cozy and comforting watch” despite putting the comedy slightly on the backburner in aid of a “dark side that becomes a lot more sobering”. The endless list of social issues are, Valentine writes, examined with “tact and compassion”.

Dua Saleh as Cal Bowman in Sex Education.
Cal Bowman in Sex Education. (Netflix)

On the other hand, a fair number of reviewers have expressed frustration at season four’s character arcs – be this with existing characters, former characters, or new characters.

The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan said that new characters like deaf student Aisha (Alexandra James) and trans characters Abbi and Roman “never amount to much more than symbols of the categories it has apparently felt essential to include”, while existing characters have no “room to breathe” and are “underdeveloped” due to the sizeable cast.

However, while fans of the show have long praised Cal’s storyline for bringing authentic trans representation to our screens, Mangan suggested that the show should have seen Cal advised against gender-affirming surgery – a comment that has led to fury on social media.

The Evening Standard’s Vicky Jessop praised the “fantastic storylines” in the series but felt that the lead characters “should really have been given more space to breathe”. 

Connor Swindells as Adam Groff in Sex Education. (Sam Taylor/NETFLIX)

“Unfortunately, the sheer volume of narrative threads inevitably mean some [characters] also fall to the wayside,” she wrote. Still, Jessop gave the series overall four stars out of five.

It’s truly a mixed bag, with The Telegraph’s Benji Wilson suggesting that season four of Sex Education is “by some way its worst”, while NME’s Nick Levine stating certain season four scenes present the show “at its best”.

All in all, it appears that the hilarity and debauchery of Sex Education is still there for its final season, just with a little more darkness.

Sex Education season four is streaming now on Netflix.