(This story contains major spoilers from the Sex education series finale.)
The last moments of Sex education saw the show’s core characters rally behind one of their own and begin their journey into the next chapter of their lives.
In the final episode of the Netflix series, the students of Cavendish Sixth Form College discover that their classmate Cal (Dua Saleh) has gone missing, and join forces to find their friend and bring him home safely. When Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) find Cal, they realize they’ve neglected their friend, who struggled with body dysmorphia during their transition, because they can’t afford top surgery.
Instead of raising money for Eric’s church soup kitchen, which doesn’t want money from LGBTQ students, the school decides to donate the money from the fundraiser to Cal so they can complete their transition.
Elsewhere in the series finale, Otis (Asa Butterfield) gives up his spot as the school’s therapist to O (Thaddea Graham). He and Maeve (Emma Mackey) end things to pursue separate paths while she returns to America to complete her writing program under Dan Levy’s Thomas Molloy. Adam (Connor Swindells) and his father (Michael Groff) make amends after years of tense relationship.
The fates of Otis and Maeve, and Adam repairing his relationship with his father, were two pivotal points for showrunner Laurie Nunn as she was writing Sex education season four.
“I think Adam represents a lot of broken young men that I’ve known in my life, and I’ve always wanted that healing and reconciliation for him,” Nunn says. The Hollywood Reporter. “I’ve always been pretty sure that Otis and Maeve wouldn’t end up together. They’re 17, and I think it’s really hard when you meet your soulmate when you’re 17.
In the conversation below, Nunn also talks candidly about the spin-offs she might want to explore after taking a break from the world of Moordale, how the show is ultimately about friendship, her thoughts on the end of the writers’ strike and more. .
How does it feel to say goodbye Sex education?
I think I’m still processing it a bit. I didn’t go into the writers’ room for series four thinking this would be the end. But the writing process is very fluid; we’re writing and rewriting all the time. It started to become very clear that the characters were coming to this natural conclusion, and I was very happy with where they would end up. And it suddenly felt like the right time to end the show. There are pros and cons to that. I haven’t been able to process the fact that it’s coming to an end for the past two years. I’ve come to terms with it a bit now.
When you started the show, did you ever imagine it would become so popular and as big a pop culture phenomenon?
I started writing it in 2014, and in 2017 it ended up on Netflix. So it’s been a very long time. I really didn’t think it would be the way it would connect with people. I thought the whole atmosphere of the show would be too high, and people might find it a bit strange and not be able to relate to it. But it was really overwhelming to see that people enjoyed it.
Why do you think it is so connected to people?
I think probably because it’s about being a teenager, and I think we’re either teenagers or we remember what it was like to be teenagers. I think it’s a very universal experience. There’s something about the extent to which you feel insecure about everything when you’re 16 that’s really at the heart of the show, and I think that’s the thing that relates to people.
What do you think is the legacy of the show?
I find it difficult to think about inheritance. I think the conversations are moving so fast right now, and I think there’s so much great television out there. I just hope that people connect with the characters in some way, and I hope that they can remember the characters. I think the show is called Sex educationand it’s really about how to approach sex and relationships in a healthier way, and hopefully it’s started some conversations around that topic.
What do you think the show is really about?
The show is actually really about friendship. Even though it’s called Sex education – and it has these sex stories of the week, and it has great love stories and romance stories – I think, really underneath that, it’s about friendship and community and the ability to find your people.
Everyone’s stories were very neatly put together. Did you always know how you wanted to end their stories?
I always knew that I wanted to reconcile Adam and his father. That always felt like something that was very important. I think Adam represents a lot of broken young men that I’ve known in my life, and I always wanted that healing and that reconciliation for him. And yes, I’ve always been pretty sure that Otis and Maeve wouldn’t end up together. They’re 17, and I think it’s really hard when you meet your soulmate when you’re 17. And I always imagined that maybe in ten years they would get together when they have grown up and grown up. bit.
I’m glad you think they can get together later. I’d like to see that.
Yes, that’s the spin-off. They’re just married and boring. (Laughs)
This show served as a huge launching pad for its stars – there were three in there Barbie; Ncuti Gatwa is the new Doctor Who. What do you think about that, and to what extent did that play a role in the decision to end the series?
I think they’re all doing so well. It’s beautiful to see that. Our casting director Lauren Evans is brilliant at finding these really talented new actors, and I think that’s the real joy of a teen show; that you get to work with these real emerging actors and shape characters around them. I think the fact that Ncuti is becoming Doctor Who is just so cool.
I think the show definitely could have gone on. I think all the actors are obviously much older now. We’re all a lot older than when we started, so I think with a teen show there’s always some sort of end point because people can’t play teenagers forever. But yeah, it definitely felt like the right time to end it.
The show said goodbye to popular characters like Lily and Ola before the fourth season began. Was there any trepidation about a new season without some of the beloved characters?
When I started writing series four, I didn’t think it would be the last series. I hadn’t made that decision yet. So I guess in my mind I was just trying to come up with a new story, especially for the series. In series three we’d had Hope (Jemima Kirke), and we’d had that new leadership at Moordale and obviously it had all ended disastrously. And it felt like in order to continue the story, we had to inject new energy into the show. With Lily and Ola, I really felt like their story had come to a nice conclusion at the end of series three, and I felt like they were left in a really positive place. That felt like the right time to end that story. When I started series four, I was really interested in taking our original characters from Moordale and putting them in this new environment, and seeing them struggle a bit. That always makes for good drama and comedy.
Have you ever thought about bringing back some of those characters?
We felt like the characters left behind in series three felt like a very natural ending to those character journeys. I think Jakob clearly found out with Jean and Jakob that he wasn’t the father, and I think in terms of where he was with all his trust issues, it just didn’t feel like that relationship was going to last. I really enjoyed being able to explore Jean from her romantic relationship, and I think being able to put her alone with this new baby – and she’s trying to juggle motherhood and her career, and we really see her fall apart on the seams – was a really great way to dig a little deeper into her as a character and understand why she is the way she is.
You said you didn’t know season four would be the last. How long did you expect the show to last when you started it?
I think when I first started working on it, it just felt so great to get one series. When I write the show, I always try to put everything, all my ideas, into each series. Because with television there is never a guarantee that you will be able to continue something. With each series I thought, “I’m just going to put everything into it because this could be the last.” But I’m also lucky that I was able to end it on my own terms, because not every writer can do that. It felt really cathartic to leave those characters in a place that I was happy with.
You’ve joked about an Otis and Maeve spin-off, and you’ve talked about Moordale being bursting with potential stories to tell. What would you like to investigate?
There are so many different ways to explore Moordale more. I really enjoyed some of the new characters that appeared in series four. I think it would be really cool to maybe see a few more. But honestly, I’m not really thinking about spin-offs right now. I just take a break and figure out what my brain feels without writing Sex education for a bit.
How does it feel to talk about the show now that the writers’ strike is over?
I think it is very positive that they have reached a deal. But it’s clear that the actors’ strike is still ongoing, and I think it’s important to remember that the two things are really connected. I think the industry is in a bit of a complicated situation at the moment, but I do think it’s really important that writers are paid well for their work, otherwise it becomes a real barrier to entry. And I think we need as many young and diverse writers as possible coming into the industry and wanting to tell their stories, because that’s how we’re going to make interesting television and film.
Interview edited for length and clarity.