Netflix’s beloved raunchy teen drama, Sex Education, has finally returned for an expectedly colorful season 3, which picks up right where the second installment left off. Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and Adam (Connor Swindells) are navigating the terms of their new romance. Maeve (Emma Mackey) and Otis (Asa Butterfield) are not on speaking terms. And Jean (Gillian Anderson), Otis’ mother, is struggling to conceal an unplanned pregnancy from her ex-boyfriend, the icy blue-eyed Jakob (Mikael Persbrandt). By the end of the eight episodes, we have just as many questions as answers to how these burgeoning relationships will play out—but we do have one thing: Otis and Maeve have finally revealed their true feelings for each other. Pull out the rose petals and champagne!
Well, hold up a moment. Problem is, Maeve is USA-bound for a once-in-a-lifetime study abroad opportunity, which leaves the young lovebirds winging it from separate corners of an ocean. Otis makes it clear that, when Maeve returns, he’ll be waiting. But he’s a teenager, and teens have never been particularly good at keeping promises.
Meanwhile, Adam and Eric are in an equally confusing headspace. They’ve broken up, and it’s clear Adam needs some lengthy therapy sessions to process all the years he spent in the closet. That doesn’t mean this ship is without a sail, however: Eric seems willing to reconcile after his exe has had some time to heal.
As for Otis’ mother, well, that’s a whole other story. For most of season 3, Jean is heavily pregnant, but she eventually delivers a bouncing baby girl…only to learn via DNA test that the baby’s father is unknown. With that little cliffhanger keeping us slack-jawed, here’s what we know so far about another term for Moordale’s best and brightest.
Will there be a season 4 of Sex Education?
When first asked if he knew of any season 4 whispers, Butterfield told Cosmopolitan in September: “We don’t know [whether there will be more]. It’s out of our hands at this point. I wish I could tell you more; I genuinely don’t know.” Later, he and Gatwa revealed in an interview with ELLE that they did, however, want more episodes. In particular, Butterfield was hoping to see where Maeve and Otis’s relationship goes, and how the two of them navigate life without being so worried about their romance. “I would like to see them…look at the bigger picture,” he said. “To explore themselves and to be more focused either on their relationship with themselves or their platonic relationships with their friends and family.”
Only days later, during Netflix’s first-ever TUDUM event, Gatwa and Kedar Williams-Stirling, who plays Jackson, revealed major news: Sex Education would indeed return for season 4.
When will season 4 premiere?
Considering the gap between seasons 2 and 3 lasted almost two years, largely due to filming delays from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s possible a fourth season could arrive much sooner—perhaps as early as spring 2023. But we’re still awaiting official confirmation.
We do know, however, that production on season 4 is now underway. On Aug. 5, Asa Butterfield tweeted a selfie on set, hinting that filming has officially commenced.
What will season 4 be about?
Season 3 ended with an enormous question mark, so surely season 4 will seek to tie up loose ends. It’s also possible that the next chapter might take a time jump, and Maeve will return from the states—perhaps with an American accent?—and rekindle her romance with Otis. Or not.
The remaining Sex Education crew—Eric,Adam, and more—will have to finish their last term before heading to university. But with Moordale getting sold, who knows where the students will earn their diplomas?
Is the cast coming back?
Although most of the main cast is expected to return, multiple beloved side characters will call season 3 their last.
Simone Ashley, who stars as Olivia Hanan in Sex Education, rose to super-stardom after leading Bridgerton‘s second season, which arrived in March 2022. But her newfound status means she won’t be coming back for SE season 4, given her commitments to the Regency drama. She confirmed the news on ITV’s This Morning. “I get asked that all the time,” Ashley said. “No, I mean, I’m a Bridgerton girl now.”
In addition, Patricia Allison, who plays Ola, is missing out on season 4. She announced the news in an interview with Capital Xtra: “I have absolutely loved being on Sex Education, so, so much, and playing Ola, but unfortunately I won’t be joining the team for season 4…I’m so sorry to have to break that to you guys, but I’m just going to be doing some other things.”
Finally, Rakhee Thakrar, who played teacher Emily Sands, also confirmed her character arc is done. “I’m not part of the new series,” she told Daily Star Sunday. “I can’t really talk about why…But I’m so proud of the show and grateful to have been part of something so important. There is nothing bad about Sex Education.”
Thankfully, Ncuti Gatwa is confirmed to return for the new season, even though he’s been cast as the new Doctor Who, Variety confirms. He’s been able to work out scheduling as the BBC sci-fi show filming now and Sex Education season 4 set to film this fall.
Melanie Curry (she/her) is an editorial assistant at Hearst Magazines where she does a little of bit of everything in digital media. Her work has appeared in Men’s Health, InStyle, ELLE, and more. When not writing the day away, you can find her drinking a cold brew at Starbucks, reading a romance novel, or binge-watching the trendiest show on Netflix.
Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers news and culture.