BY JAMES HUNT
Sex Education season 3 makes some big changes to Moordale, and it serves to help fix the confusion over the show’s mixed UK/US aesthetic.
Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Sex Education season 3.
Some big changes are made to Moordale Secondary School in Sex Education season 3, and while not all positive they do help clear up some confusion surrounding it. When the series released on Netflix in 2019, it was met with acclaim from all sides, with particular praise for the show’s authenticity, something that continues to be reflected in the reviews for Sex Education season 3. However, there was one point of contention, or at least confusion, which was the appearance and geographical location of the school.
It’s true that Sex Education has a largely British cast, an the rural landscapes that surround parts of Moordale certainly evoke imagery of England as well (as they should, given it was filmed there). But at the same time, there was a distinctly American feel to Moordale School: there were no uniforms in sight, the athletes wore varsity jackets, cliques were formed, colorful lockers were adorned with pictures and personality, and the campus felt like something from the United States.
Because of this, across seasons 1 and 2 it’s been a little unclear where Sex Education is supposed to be set, though ultimately it is a British show set at a British school. The confusing aesthetic choice is seemingly to appeal to a broader (i.e. America) audience, but season 3 clears up the matter. Following on from the end of season 2, then there’s a new Headteacher at Moordale in the form of Hope Haddon (Jemima Kirke), who introduced a number of rule changes to bring some order to “Sex School.” These include re-painting the lockers so that they’re much more drab and devoid of personality, implementing one-way systems in the hallways, and bringing in gray school uniforms for Moordale’s students. These changes aren’t positive for the pupils, but it does make it much clearer this is a UK school.
The uniforms in Sex Education season 3 in particular are a telling sign, as the blazers etc are a hallmark of British secondary schools, standing in stark contrast to the lack of uniforms at schools in the United States. The overall approach that comes with it too feels more uniquely British (and conservatively so at that), such as Hope’s insistence that people not be allowed to dye their hair different colors and the banning of piercings, or the need to follow the uniform code to the letter without any room for individuality. All of these will be rules very familiar to anyone who went to a school in the UK, bringing Sex Education‘s Moordale much more in line with the location it’s set.
Still, there are aspects of Sex Education that remains distinctly more American in season 3. The trailer park Maeve lives at is less common in the UK, and its big school productions remain more in keeping with what would be found Stateside. And, of course, the aesthetic changes to Moordale in season 3 are not inherently a good thing; they’re designed for conformity and discipline, to punish the students rather than to help them flourish. Thankfully, though, the spirit of the kids wins out – with help from some great teachers who actually understand them – which is something that could apply to either side of the Atlantic.
Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.