“Sex Education” Season 3 Did Right by Eric, Adam & Rahim… Kind Of!

sex education season 3 eric and adam
Eric getting ready to break up with Adam in ‘Sex Education’ season 3 (Screengrab: Episode 8)

Netflix’s Sex Education season 3 decided to make Eric realize something he should have a long time ago. While I had my issues with the narrative beats, I’m glad Eric, Adam and Rahim seem to be on a more positive path (kind of).

This review of Sex Education season 3 focuses on Adam, Eric, and Rahim.

Beware of spoilers! 

I was not a fan of the Sex Education writers deciding to make Eric and Adam a romantic couple in season two, especially by making Eric break things off with Rahim. While I’m all for people growing and changing into better versions of themselves, that shouldn’t include a young queer high school student hooking up with his closeted ex-bully and them becoming a couple being portrayed as something romantic.

Again, for those of you wondering. I’m not against Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and Adam (Connor Swindells) being a thing. I’m here for those two, but only when they are in their 30s or 40s and have gone through necessary life experiences. Media romanticizing high school bullying for couples (queer or otherwise) is not for me.

Sex Education season 3 showed Eric help Adam open up a bit and accept his sexuality. Adam even allowed Eric to put makeup on him, but only in the confines of the bedroom. Adam still experienced trouble being physically affectionate with Eric in public. There were also anger issues that led to Adam pushing another high student because he made a comment about Adam’s sexuality.

In my opinion, Eric and Adam’s narrative arc as a couple came across as Eric basically staying busy with a Queer Eye project (said project being Adam). The assignment involved Eric asking Adam to stop hitting people and work on his anger issues. It also had Eric asking Adam to dress nice and make conversation while on a double date with Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Ruby (Mimi Keene). It also included nudges from Eric for Adam to be open about them being boyfriends to Adam’s mother.

In the end, understandably, it all proved to be a bit too much for Eric to handle. And he finally decided to break things off with Adam because the two were on different chapters in their lives as young queer people. Which… duh!

The writers even made Eric cheat on Adam (by making Eric kiss another guy while attending a family wedding in Nigeria) for good measure. The conversation between Adam and Eric over the situation was messy. But not the fun kind. In my opinion, it was clear Eric was just finding ways to end things with Adam.

At this point, I think even Eric’s unsure about what he wants. He got an out and proud boyfriend in Rahim (Sami Outalbali), but Eric decided to go with Adam instead. However, after being with Adam, Eric felt he was losing himself in the process of helping Adam to be more open.

The only saving grace in Eric and Adam’s relationship was the fact the writers allowed the two to call it quits during the Sex Education season 3 finale. Eric shouldn’t have accepted being in a romantic relationship with Adam in the first place. He could have still helped Adam be more open while just remaining platonic friends. So, while not perfect, I’m glad the writers made them not be a couple anymore. I’m interested in seeing what happens to those two as the series continues. 

In contrast, the romantic tension between Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) and newcomer Cal (Dua Saleh) was handled a lot better. With Cal still figuring things out as a non-binary individual, Cal realized they weren’t capable of also taking on Jackson’s burden and help him deal with being in his first-ever relationship with a non-binary person. However, Cal, as just a friend, was open to assisting Jackson to broaden his perspective when it came to non-binary folk. That’s what I wanted for Adam and Eric, too, with Eric helping Adam accept his sexuality but only as a friend.

Surprisingly, Adam and Rahim got to share quite a bit of screentime together. It made sense for Rahim to not like Adam because he thought Adam stole Eric from him. You could tell the writers were working toward making Rahim and Adam become friends or at least tolerate each other. But the way they did it was just ‘Meh!’, in my opinion. The entire sequence involving Rahim experiencing bad luck in the toilet during the school trip and Adam stepping up to take the blame for Rahim’s actions made me roll my eyes. It was just a weird way to get Rahim to like Adam. The writers really couldn’t think of another way to make them bond?

With Adam and Rahim becoming close, there are certain viewers (including myself) who think the writers might be moving toward making them a couple. They are definitely opposites of each other and if there’s one thing media has taught the globe, it is that opposites always attract. Adam loves dogs while Rahim’s a cat person. Rahim’s well-spoken and intellectual while Adam’s more or less a jock. Adam even reached out to Rahim to help him improve his poetry writing skills.

If any Sex Education writer is reading this, please don’t go down that route. Allow queer people to just remain platonic friends. Also, Rahim being okay with dating the ex-boyfriend (Adam) of his own ex-boyfriend (Eric) who was also Eric’s ex-bully is not a good look.

Sigh!

So, yeah. While the journey was indeed bumpy, Sex Education season 3, in the end, allowed Rahim, Adam and Eric to be in positions that could open doors for further (hopefully well-written) character development. There’s no need for Eric to continue feeling stressed out by being in a problematic romantic relationship as he continues to find himself. Adam has a lot of work to do on himself to address a bunch of personal issues, especially the ones involving his father. Telling his mother that he and Eric were boyfriends was a good first step, though.

And Rahim needs to stop being mopey about Eric breaking up with him. The poor dude, apparently, burned everything Eric gifted him when they were boyfriends. He even asked Eric to give back his books and the poems he wrote to Eric. Continuing to be friends with Adam and getting to experience new things could help them both move on. So, let’s see what happens next.

Have you watched the third season of Sex Education? What did you think of the storylines given to Eric, Adam and Rahim?

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Released on September 17, 2021, all eight episodes of Sex Education season 3 are available to stream on Netflix.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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