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Is it Good Representation or is it Conventional?: Sex Education Season 3 Review

Welcome back to Moordale Secondary! Back by popular demand, Sex Education Season three has received mixed reviews from both fans and critics alike. Here at UT, fans are split. One group of fans believe that the show has continued to push the boundaries of representation and have succeeded in accurately representing the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community, while the others find themselves disappointed in the show writers and their inability to break away from the mold that dictates LGBTQ+ character arcs and interactions in media. So, the question is: does this season of Sex Education accurately represent the LGBTQ+ community or just follow the conventional arcs for the sake of representation?

This season picks up after the summer of the last season and it’s safe to say a lot of things have changed—Maeve and Otis are no longer friends, Jean is pregnant, Headmaster Griff is no longer Headmaster and Ruby and Otis are now dating? This season introduces a whole host of new characters as well. Hope, playing the cool-teacher-gone-wrong, acts as the villain of the series, but the biggest win in terms of diversity is the introduction of Cal, a new non-binary student. The season takes a dramatic shift from the prior ones as it focuses more on the character arcs of its LGBTQ+ characters, the fan-favorite being Adam Groff.

Image courtesy Netflix; Sex Education Season 3 Episode 8

Adam begins the season in a relationship with the love of his life and ends it single and enrolled in a dog competition. If that didn’t catch you by surprise, nothing will. Adam and Eric are by far the most beloved couple on the show. Their banter is iconic and they complement each other so well. In fact, their chemistry is so strong that it made Eric leave his boyfriend, Rahim, in season two. But this season, despite having overcome a grocery list of obstacles, they break up. I may not be completely unbiased, but I’m not alone when I say this break-up hit deep. Not only did it seem uncharacteristic, but Eric was the one who initiated it after he cheated on Adam. He believed Adam wasn’t in touch with his sexuality enough to fully be in their relationship and to this I say: Are you kidding me? Adam Groff has had the most character growth in the show. He went from the high school bully to a kind and sensitive person who genuinely wanted to improve himself academically, find what he’s passionate about and be there for Eric as a partner. Eric, on the other hand, was undoubtedly the second worst character this season, which is disappointing given how great he was in the previous seasons.

Image courtesy Netflix; Sex Education Season 3 Episode 6

Not only has Eric now cheated on all the boyfriends he’s had, but he’s also done so under the belief that he’s right. This character flaw, unfortunately, perpetuates more than one harmful belief about gay relationships. Eric’s impulsivity when it comes to his relationships is so out-of-character that it paints a picture of gay relationships being inherently temporary and fragile. The writers proceed to almost erase Eric and Otis’ comradery which was what made Eric so lovable in the first place. Their friendship was an excellent representation of male platonic relationships that didn’t shy away from physicality and it was deeply missed this season.

The other prominent LGBTQ+ relationship on the show is the one between Ola and Lily.

Image courtesy Netflix; Sex Education Season 3 Episode 4

Luckily, the writers were able to avoid the stereotypes surrounding LGBTQ+ couples in this relationship. Ola and Lily are both dealing with their own crises this season, with Lily coming to terms with her inability to fit in and Ola severely missing her mother. Their relationship works because they see each other for who they are and overcome issues through communication. Lily and Ola beautifully demonstrate how even though relationships take work, they are more than worth it.

 Image courtesy Netflix; Sex Education Season 3 promo posters

Finally, Cal Bowman marks progress as the first non-binary character on the show. They make an impact by fighting against Hope’s insane rules and standing up for themselves despite being constantly berated for no reason other than their gender. Cal’s struggles not only are representative of some aspects of a non-binary person’s experience but they also evoke empathy in those unfamiliar with non-binary people. Many fans remarked that Cal’s struggles and arc helped them educate themselves and understand gender is a spectrum. Cal’s relationship with Jackson was crucial as it demonstrated how despite one’s best intentions and feelings, sexual orientation and gender are complex identities and not unidimensional. 

Overall, Sex Education is a show that is able to capture the complexities of characters’ personalities along with their identities. While it does have some flaws the show still manages to include diverse perspectives without making them look forced which in turn exposes audiences to new perspectives. Season 3 furthers the show’s narrative, introduces us to a whole host of new characters, covers complex topics of gender and sexual identity, all while keeping its audience entertained and that is a success indeed.

Featured Image Courtesy of Netflix Sex Education Promo Posters

Big Brother Season 23 Review and Finale Prediction

Season 23 of CBS’s “Big Brother” has been the most extraordinary season yet. With so many twists, an amazing cast and historic game play, this season was definitely worth the watch.   

What is Big Brother?

“Big Brother” is a social experiment and strategic game, where 16 houseguests are trapped in a house for 85 days without any access to the outside world. Each week, the houseguests compete in competitions to determine who has power in the house.

The first competition of each week is the HOH, or Head of Household competition. The HOH is responsible for nominating two other houseguests for eviction at the end of the week, but the nominated house guests have the chance to save themselves with the Power of Veto, or POV.

The POV competition is played by the head of household, the two nominees and three other houseguests selected by random draw. The power of veto winner can either keep the HOH’s nominations the same or take one of the nominees down and force the HOH to put up a replacement nominee.

Then, on Thursday nights, a live vote and eviction takes place, where one of the nominees is sent home. This pattern continues each week until two houseguests are left, and a jury of the nine previous evicted houseguests vote on a winner, who will receive a $750,000 cash prize!  

A Historic Season

A typical season of “Big Brother” consists of a majority white cast, with little diversity. “Big Brother” has a history of only casting one or two people of color, who are normally the first to be targeted and evicted. However, in November 2020, CBS promised their viewers that their reality shows like, “Big Brother,” “Survivor,” and “Love Island,” will have casts that are 50% Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) starting in their 2021 seasons. “Big Brother” certainly kept that promise, with season 23 having the most diverse cast in the history of the show.

“You can tell that the people who come into the bubble don’t have diverse communities around them, so they continue to act that way in the “Big Brother” house,” Alexis Hansen, sophomore aerospace engineering student, said. “But I really like how they showed more representation and diversity this season… I think it’s important that what we have on our TV is representing how the world is.”  

The Cookout

Season 23 of “Big Brother” had eight cast members that were BIPOC, with six of them being from African American descent. Those six cast members came together on the first day of the show, and formed a secret alliance called The Cookout.

The Cookout consisted of Azah Awasum, Derek Frazier, Hannah Chaddha, Kyland Young, Tiffany Mitchell and Xavier Prather. Each member of the alliance had the same mission; to ensure “Big Brother” crowned its first African American winner. The six members of The Cookout protected each other throughout the game thanks to their masterplan, created by Tiffany.

Each member of the alliance had a side ally that was not a part of The Cookout to disguise the fact that the six black contestants were working together. Each week, a member of The Cookout or their side ally took power and nominated another member of The Cookout and that person’s side ally. Being a six-person alliance, The Cookout always had a majority of the vote, and voted out the person on the block who was not in their alliance.

Their plan worked, and The Cookout made history in two different ways. Since they all protected each other until the final six players, they made history by ensuring an African American contestant would win. Secondly, they are the biggest alliance to make it to the end of “Big Brother” without falling apart. 

UT on BB

This season of “Big Brother” was extra special for us Longhorns because McCombs alum, Travis Long, was cast for the show. Long graduated from UT in 2020, moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to start his own business, and then auditioned for “Big Brother.” Long made sure to flex that he was a UT grad in his introduction tape for the show, shown on episode one when the houseguests were moving in. However, Travis’ time on “Big Brother” was short-lived, since he was the first one to be evicted. 

“I expected (Travis) to do better,” Julia Mahavier, sophomore journalism student, said. “I was honestly pretty let down because I feel like he came on too strong. Maybe that was from coming from a great environment like UT, and he thought everyone would be as open and welcoming as him.”  

Winner Prediction

The final three houseguests are Xavier, Derek F. and Azah, all members of The Cookout alliance. The winner of “Big Brother” will be chosen by a jury vote. The jury normally votes for the person who has the most competition wins but is also in good standing socially with most of the jury members.

Based on the above stats, I predict that Xavier will be the winner of “Big Brother” season 23. After winning part one of the HOH competition Sept. 26, he is likely to win the final part, as well as the entire game. No matter who he sits next to on finale night, Sept. 29, his resume speaks for itself. His many competition wins and outstanding social game is what will ultimately lead to his victory.