‘Sex Education’: Ncuti Gatwa & Aimee Lou Wood Tease Season 3 Breakthroughs
While change awaits the students of Moordale Secondary in Sex Education‘s third season, some of the biggest transformations are linked to personal growth, particularly for Ncuti Gatwa‘s Eric Effiong and Aimee Lou Wood’s Aimee Gibbs.
Both are coming to terms with events from the past season. Eric is settling into his relationship with Adam Groff (Connor Swindells) as Aimee’s grappling with the impact of her assault-related trauma and its effect on her relationships. Below, the stars preview what viewers can expect from their Season 3 journeys.
An Update on Eric and Adam
“We’re seeing them make a go of things and genuinely love and care for each other, but they are trying to figure out how they can grow [together] because they’re in very different places,” Gatwa says of Eric and Adam’s relationship when the season picks up.
Although their path has been anything but conventional, Eric and Adam are finally a couple. The question is whether they can maintain their grasp on their latest classification as boyfriends. “They have very different needs, home lives, backgrounds, and things pushing them,” Gatwa admits. So there will definitely be some challenges especially as Eric evaluates the situation.
“We also see Eric make a lot more room for himself to grow,” Gatwa shares. “He makes a lot more decisions for himself and I think he’s ready to stop being so apologetic.” How that mindset will affect Adam remains to be seen as viewers dive into the season.
Eric & Aimee Take Time to Understand Themselves
As Eric explores what he wants, a trip abroad shifts his outlook. “This season we see Eric go back to Nigeria for his cousin’s wedding,” Gatwa explains. Mingling with his extended family, Eric sits back and observes the behaviors and interactions of his mother and siblings along with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. “While he’s there, he has to confront all the different elements [of himself] in terms of his culture, race, religion, and sexuality” Gatwa elaborates. “He’s in a country where it’s illegal for him to express himself fully.”
“While he’s there, he sees his family and the facade that they put forward to his extended family. He learns that he doesn’t want to do that,” says Gatwa. The life-changing trip transforms Eric’s understanding of himself as the actor points out, “He doesn’t want to pretend, and he’s tired of being a people pleaser that makes room for other people’s happiness by neglecting his own. He learns that he shouldn’t be afraid of embracing all parts of himself and he shouldn’t be afraid to take the space that he needs to grow.”
Aimee has a similar breakthrough as the lingering trauma of Season 2 sways her decisions this time around. “Aimee and Eric are very similar in the way that they are people pleasers and they want to be their best selves for everyone else,” Wood explains. “Aimee couldn’t maintain that at a certain point last season because she was too overwhelmed. Once she said to the girls, ‘I can’t get on the bus,’ that was a huge breakthrough for her.”
That breakthrough has hit a bit of a setback in Season 3 though as Wood adds, “that was a beautiful moment, but it was definitely the start of her healing process and her recovery from what happened.” Taking steps to heal, Aimee seeks comfort from her best friend Maeve (Emma Mackey) and Otis Milburn’s (Asa Butterfield) sex therapist mother Jean (Gillian Anderson).
“There’s this disconnect between her brain and her body because her brain is saying, ‘Logically, I’m starting to know that it wasn’t my fault,'” Wood says of Aimee’s Season 2 assault. “But her body is still very much in shock from the trauma.”
Jean will try to help Aimee come to grips with her new normal, something that isn’t easily accepted at first. “She’s still got this connection and this desire to go back into this comfort zone that she used to exist in because it’s familiar,” says Wood, “but it’s gone. When Jean tells her, ‘You’re not going to be the same again,’ it’s a really hard thing for her to hear, but it also liberates because it means she can maybe start to move on.”
Maeve’s Tough Love for Aimee
Thick as thieves, Aimee and Maeve’s friendship is certainly something to admire in the series, but their different backgrounds serve as a catalyst for some Season 3 hurdles. “Maeve’s had to deal with the realities of financial stress for a long time. Aimee’s never really had that,” Wood teases.
As part of coping with her trauma, Aimee leans on Maeve and even butts in financially to have her pal join in on certain things she’d otherwise not be able to afford. “Maeve is acting as a distraction and a comfort blanket for her,” Wood says, but this realization forces Maeve to share some hard truths with her bestie.
“I think when Maeve takes that comfort blanket away, it’s actually like the best and kindest thing that she could have done for Aimee,” Wood teases, hinting at a forced separation of sorts between Aimee and Maeve. “Her biggest fear would be to not be liked by Maeve, ” shares Wood. “So when that biggest fear comes true, then she’s like, ‘Well, I’ve faced my biggest fear now, so now I’m ready to face some others.’ That’s why the therapy session that she has with Jean is so effective for her because she’s actually faced her biggest fear, which is Maeve not liking her or not having that comfort blanket.”
Tune in to see how the drama unfolds for Eric, Aimee, and the other key characters of Sex Education as Season 3 arrives on Netflix. And until then, check out the latest trailer, below.
Sex Education, Season 3 Premiere, Friday, September 17, Netflix