After taking a short hiatus in 2022, the students of Moordale will finally (!) make a comeback later this year with the fourth and final season of Sex Education.
One of Netflix’s most beloved – and popular – series, the comedy stars Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn, a sexually-awkward teenager who lives with his sex therapist mother Jean (Gillian Anderson) while attempting to survive the perils of high school with his openly gay best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa).
Since its 2019 debut, Sex Education has received overwhelming critical acclaim for tackling sensitive subjects related to sexual intimacy, the ensemble cast’s performances and its authentic and diverse depiction of the LGBTQ+ community, with several main characters of the queer experience.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of everything we know (so far) about the long-awaited fourth season, from the plot to returning cast members and cast departures (spoiler alert: there’s a few).
When will it be released?
The final season will be released on 21 September and you can watch the trailer below.
What is the plot?
The official synopsis for season four reads: “Following the closure of Moordale Secondary, Otis and Eric now face a new frontier — their first day at Cavendish Sixth Form College. Otis is nervous about setting up his new clinic, while Eric is praying they won’t be losers again. But Cavendish is a culture shock for all the Moordale students — they thought they were progressive but this new college is another level. There’s daily yoga in the communal garden, a strong sustainability vibe and a group of kids who are popular for being… kind?!”
According to the synopsis, the new season will see Vivienne come to terms with the college’s “student-led, non-competitive approach,” while Jackson struggles to get over his breakup with Cal. Aimee also explores Art A Level, Adam “grapples” with whether “mainstream education” is for him and Otis ‘pines’ after Maeve’s move to the United States.
Who is returning?
Sex Education’s cast is, undeniably, one of the core reasons why the show has been such a hit for Netflix, with the performances of Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn, Gillian Anderson as Dr Jean Milburn, Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong and Emma Mackey as Moordale’s badass Maeve Wiley all receiving high praise.
Fortunately, all four will be reprising their roles in addition to Connor Swindells as Adam Groff, Aimee-Lou Wood as Aimee Gibbs, Kedar Williams-Stirling as Jackson Marchetti, Dua Saleh as Cal Bowman, Mimi Keene as Ruby Matthews, Chineye Ezeudu as Viv Odusanya, George Robinson as Isaac Goodwin, Alistair Petrie as Michael Groff and Samantha Spiro as Maureen Groff.
Who is not returning?
Sadly, there are a few departures this time around.
Tanya Reynolds, who plays Sex Education’s fan-favourite writer of alien erotica Lily Iglehart, will not be joining Otis and company for the fourth season. In an interview with Radio Times, Reynolds hinted that her exit wasn’t her decision.
“I’m not [returning], actually, which is sad, very sad,” she told the publication. “It’s just the natural progression of these shows – when you have such a big ensemble cast and so many characters, I think you have to let a few older characters go to make way for newer ones, which is absolutely the right thing, the way it should happen.”
Even though her time on the show has ended, Reynolds holds no hard feelings, stating: “I loved every minute of it, and I loved Lily with my whole entire heart. Three seasons was just a really perfect amount for me.”
Another central cast member who won’t be involved is Patricia Allison, who plays Reynolds’ on-screen girlfriend Ola Nyman. Speaking with Capital Xtra, the actress said she was busy with “some other opportunities,” adding: “I’ve been doing it for three years and I’ve, like, genuinely loved it.”
Additional cast members that won’t be returning include Simone Ashley as Olivia Hanan, Anne-Maire Duff as Erin Wiley, Rakhee Thakrar as Emily Sands and Jemima Kirke as Hope Haddon. But don’t worry, season four will introduce several new faces…
Who are the new stars?
Netflix has announced a plethora of new stars joining the series including Marie Reuther, Felix Mufti, Anthony Lexa, Alexandra James, Reda Elazouar, Bella Maclean, Imani Yashua and Doctor Who’s Thaddea Graham. The aforementioned stars were confirmed after Sex Education writer Krishna Istha took to social media with a casting call for two trans roles.
The first character listed was Abbi, who is described as having a “90s Winona Ryder vibe” and is “confident and self-assured in her gender identity”. “Abbi is the leader of her group and the queen bee of her college — every girl either wants to be like her, or be friends with her. She’s sunny, magnetic, generous and loyal,” the description said.
The second character on the casting call was Kent, who is Abbi’s boyfriend and described as “trans-masculine, goofy, forgetful and a great listener”: “They’re the ultimate power couple — they’ve been together for a while and are the epitome of ‘couple goals,’ everyone loves them. Kent is as sure about being one of the popular kids as Abbi, but he knows himself and feels quietly confident about his final year at college.”
The post also provided insight into the backstory of Abbi, revealing that she was kicked out of her house after coming out as a trans woman. “She currently lives with her boyfriend Kent, whose family are much more accepting. Abbi used to be religious, but had to move away from her faith when it started to damage her sense of self,” it said. “She still considers herself ‘spiritual,’ and attends a secular and inclusive congregation which celebrates community and chosen family.”
Finally, the world let out a collective gasp when Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy joined the cast as Thomas Molloy, a “cult author” and Maeve’s teacher at the prestigious Wallace University in the United States.
Will there be a season five?
Netflix has confirmed that this is the fourth and final season of Sex Education.
Ncuti Gatwa previously announced his departure before Netflix’s confirmation when he commemorated his last day filming season four. In an Instagram post, Gatwa shared a photo of his trailer door alongside the caption: “Last day. Last time. Bye bubs, thank you for all the lessons and for all the strength.” Aimee Lou Wood mourned his departure, writing: “My heart hurts badly.”
His exit is, presumably, a result of his groundbreaking casting in Doctor Who, in which he makes history as the first Black – and gay – incarnation of the titular time-lord. Gatwa’s first appearance is scheduled to air in the “festive period” of 2023. That’s not all: Gatwa recently made his big-screen breakthrough alongside Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in Greta Gerwig’s highly-anticipated live- adaptation of Barbie.
At the 2023 BAFTA Awards, Emma Mackey also confirmed her early departure. After winning the Rising Star Award, the star – who joins Gatwa in Barbie – revealed: “No, I don’t think I’ll be in season five. I’ve said goodbye to Maeve.”
The first three seasons of Sex Education are now streaming on Netflix.