Sex Education season 3 has a confirmed release date for 2021 – we're just not sure when right now. This sensitive high school-based comedy is one of the best Netflix shows yet, and fans are desperate to see more of it land on the subscription service.
Sex Education's cast is a massive part of people's love for the series. The show kicked off with a simple but funny premise: Otis (Asa Butterfield), son of sex therapist Jean (Gillian Anderson), opened a sex-therapy clinic in his school – with humorous results and numerous challenges along the way. Over time, though, the show has built up a big cast of memorable characters, and tackled more and more difficult subjects while demonstrating real sensitivity.
Sex Education season 3 was announced by Netflix all the way back in February 2020 – but the pandemic has been a factor in slowing the show's return. The series started filming again in September 2020, however, and a crew member's Instagram post has led us to believe that filming wrapped up in March 2021.
Here's what we know about Sex Education season 3 so far, including its cast, the show's return date and all the teasers we've seen for the new episodes so far.
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Sex Education season 3 release date: 2021
Sex Education season 3 will return later in 2021, Netflix confirmed in a letter to investors. We're just not sure exactly when yet.
"We anticipate paid membership growth will re-accelerate in the second half of 2021 as we ramp into a very strong back half slate with the return of big hits like Sex Education, The Witcher, La Casa de Papel (aka Money Heist), and You". So, in the second half of this year at some point, you will see your favorite show return.
To prevent a potentially huge delay, filming on Sex Education season 3 kicked off in September 2020, with a completion window set for February. All non-UK members of the cast had to be in the county from August 23 to undergo a 14-day quarantine period.
As of March 2021, it's understood that filming on Sex Education season 3 had wrapped, based on a recent Instagram post by a crew member.
For a behind-the-scenes sneak peek of the filming process, take a look at the on-set photos of Ncuti Gatwa (Eric), Patricia Allison (Ola), and other cast members below. These pictures also offer a glimpse behind the scenes of filming the show, and even show off potential hints for things happening in the new season.
YOUR FIRST LOOK AT LIFE ON THE SET OF SEX EDUCATION S3 👀📷 by Tanya Lou Reynolds (aka Lily). pic.twitter.com/zEFCwMSpqwDecember 1, 2020
Dispatches from the set of Sex Ed S3, continued… pic.twitter.com/r6vGTtsDqsDecember 21, 2020
Sex Education season 3 trailer: a teaser of what to expect
let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about season 3 (of Sex Education) pic.twitter.com/qvRIiXwp9BFebruary 10, 2020
Fortunately, Netflix seems to understand exactly how thirsty Sex Education fans are for more of the show, and the streamer marked the season 3 renewal announcement with a teaser trailer. Much like season 2’s initial reveal trailer, which featured Gillian Anderson delivering a sultry monologue about the benefits of sex ed, the season 3 teaser is playfully narrated by Alistair Petrie’s Principal Groff.
We see the taciturn principal walking the halls of Moordale High, passing portraits of Sex Education’s main cast as he notes what the future could possibly hold for each of them. The teaser wraps up with an invitation to find out more in the Sex Education season 3, but stops short of a proper release date.
Sex Education season 3 cast: who we expect to return
SEX EDUCATION S3 CAST NEWS:~@jemimakirke is joining as Moordale's new headmistress ‘Hope’~Dua Saleh (@doitlikedua) is playing ‘Cal’, a student who clashes with Hope~Jason Isaacs (@jasonsfolly) is playing ‘Peter Groff’, Mr Groff’s more successful/less modest older brother pic.twitter.com/zkfGCm9hjeSeptember 24, 2020
While a full cast list for season three is yet to be confirmed, Netflix announced some exciting new names to the Sex Education season 3 cast in September. Jason Isaac's Peter Groff should prove an excellent foil to his headteacher brother, with recording artist Dua Saleh as a returning student who clashes with the new headmistress, Hope, played by Jemima Kirke (Girls, Tiny Furniture).
We also feel pretty confident in assuming the characters featured in the teaser video are returning. Series headliners Asa Butterfield (Otis Milburn) and Gillian Anderson (Dr Jean Milburn) are featured, along with a sizeable chunk of the supporting cast including Emma Mackey (Maeve Wiley), Ncuti Gatwa (Eric Effiong), Connor Swindells (Adam Groff) and Patricia Allison (Ola Nyman). Given how heavily season 2 leaned into an ensemble narrative approach, it would be difficult to imagine the show returning without the bulk of the cast reprising their roles.
Sex Education season 3 story: what we expect from the next set of episodes
Series creator and writer Laurie Nunn was already hard at work on the script for a third season well before Netflix renewed the show.
In an interview with LADbible, Nunn touches on the tight working schedule for the series, noting that the writing process of another season before confirmed renewal is a normal part of how TV production works. When asked about the potential for future stories, Nunn said, "I love writing these characters. It's such a big ensemble and I think the theme of the show – in terms of it being about sex and relationships – it really just offers up endless story opportunities."
Sex Education season 2 pivoted away from its focus on Otis and instead opted to lend almost equal time to the wonderfully diverse characters around him. The internet’s newest queer icon Eric (Gatwa) benefited the most from this shift in show structure, allowing for a nuanced and moving insight into the struggles of a young black queer man. His popularity clearly hasn’t gone without notice, as the teaser video for the third season is largely focused on the potential of his blooming romance with his former bully Adam.
While remaining tight-lipped on the Sex Education season 3 story, Butterfield said to Digital Spy that he's "really happy" with the first episode and that "it didn't go where I anticipated it to. He added: "A few things have changed. I'm excited." We're also firmly with him when he says "I want more of Otis and Maeve." The will-they-won't-they relationship was frustratingly left Otis leaving a drunk love message on Maeve's answerphone, just as she seems to be falling for neighbour, Isaac.
Eric isn’t the only student with love on the brain, of course. The timeless 'will they, won’t they?' dance between Otis and Maeve (Mackey) seems set to come to a head. The somewhat divisive final scenes of season two saw Otis confess his love to Maeve in a voicemail, only for it to be deleted by Maeve’s new love interest before she could hear it.
While some fans have been critical of this story beat as an artificial extension of the character’s ongoing love dilemma, the show’s director shrugs off any potential backlash. In a chat with BT, Ben Taylor says "I think shoes will be thrown at screens. In a good way. I love being p***ed off at stuff. You think you want it, but you don't”.
There are plenty more threads featuring the supporting cast that need to be picked up in Sex Education season 3. Jean ends season two with a newfound appreciation for emotional intimacy with her on-again, off-again partner Jakob thanks to her friendship with Adam’s freshly divorced mother Maureen. Elsewhere, various students are now grappling with revelations about their identity and place in the world as they face the realities of sexual assault trauma, non-conventional identities and the looming prospects of the future.
Sex Education is one of Netflix's best shows
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about further developments for the show, Nunn is excited about the places she and her writers can take the eclectic cast. “These characters ... they've got legs. I think I could do some more with them if we're given the chance,” she said. “[Netflix] is very supportive and really wanting us to tell the stories that we feel passionate about. It really feels like we're all on the same page, wanting to make the same show.”
It’s an exciting prospect for a show primarily made by young, diverse talent both in front of and behind the camera. It’s not hard to see why Sex Education has resonated so deeply with fans. It offers a very human, non-judgemental look at the issues facing not just teenagers, but many adults who are still coming to terms with their own sexuality. Nunn’s writing is razor-sharp, and the show’s inclusive agenda makes it a fine addition to Netflix’s growing library of progressive media and stories.
Bring on season 3.