Sex Education‘s protagonist, Otis Milburn has always been a red flag. Not only in terms of love but in friendship too. Let me explain. The first thing we need to acknowledge is the fact that Otis is played by child actor Asa Butterfield, who has been a megastar ever since his young self played Bruno in 2008 drama film, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. We don’t know if it is just a simple coincidence that Asa looks like an innocent fellow or if he was just the best guy to cast for the role of Otis (although he does a very convincing job). But this makes us especially inclined to like the character, no matter what he does. He’s always the good guy, you know? Plus, what teenager doesn’t make stupid mistakes? Wrong!
Yes, there are some good things about Otis, like his emotional intelligence, but somehow it doesn’t add up when it comes to his own life, only when he’s the third party looking inward from the outside. Let’s start with his relationship with Jean. We know that Jean does everything she can to keep her family afloat. She’s actually a wonderful single parent who is open with her child and is willing to take that extra step to make her son comfortable. On the other hand, Otis never acknowledges this, and he’s always picking the pettiest things to fight about with her.
Otis is one of the most selfish characters in TV history. No, like we talk about Emily (the one who went to Paris) being astonishingly despicable, but Otis is really not that far behind. Lucky for him, he’s a teenager with a million chances to better himself, which somehow he never takes. When it comes to his best friend Eric, Otis is only ever there when he needs something in return. Sex Education Season 4 is the first time Eric speaks up to Otis and tells him how he feels, but as usual, Otis turns a deaf ear towards Eric’s words. We’ve been saying that as the protagonist of the highly amusing Sex Education, there was always a sense of empathy towards him from the point of view of the showmakers, but it seems Otis doesn’t have any of this empathy in himself. He’s inconsiderate, too harsh with his words, and really petty. It’s great that Eric finally takes a break from Otis, even if it’s just for a little while, because finally he has people who actually listen to him, and he knows the difference. It’s not the fact that Otis and Eric may not have a lot in common, but that Otis takes Eric for granted. Eric is always the worried one, the one who cares more, and the one who asks “How was your day?”. It’s the simple things that make the biggest difference.
When it comes to love, again, it’s the weirdest thing how he has so much luck in this department. Going from the kindhearted Ola to the stunning Ruby and finally the intelligent Maeve. He’s like the Pete Davidson of TV shows. The only reason we’re always talking about Otis is because he’s the main character of Sex Education, and we have to acknowledge him. He’s literally almost an incel, and it’s Maeve who brought him out of that. But what do we get in the end? A thank-you letter from Maeve to Otis, not the other way around. Alright, fair. Maeve does have some things to thank him for, but so does Otis. Maeve is the one who came up with the idea of the clinic way back when, and if we think about it, it seems Otis is really not grateful enough. Does Maeve’s love for Otis just stem from familiarity and someone being nice to her for once, possibly? She went from Jackson to Isaac to, well, Oatcake. I don’t think that’s the normal course of things. It also covers a lot of tropes, like the good guy, bad girl, and from enemies tofriends to lovers, so are we really rooting for them or are we just expecting it? You can probably answer that for yourself.
I don’t think it would be wrong to call Otis narcissistic. Even though he likes Maeve, he makes a gazillion mistakes in their friendship itself. At the same time, he tends to blame everything and everyone around him before accepting that anything in life is his own fault. How horrible that could be! Ironically, when Maeve tells Otis she likes him in Sex Education season 2, despite him being with Ola, Otis thinks it’s unfair on him. Sir, you’re the one who got paid to tell Jackson what Maeve likes. Make it make sense. Even just thinking about that one party at Otis’ house when Jean wasn’t around gives us second-hand embarrassment. But we’ve got to have a laugh about the fact that Otis calls Maeve selfish there. After making a big mess of things, it’s really just surprising that Maeve came back to Otis at all. Never mind having feelings for him; she shouldn’t even be friends with him, making a fool of her in front of a whole school that has always bullied her for her boldness. That’s when Isaac has to be the worst guy and delete Otis’ voice note to Maeve (truly, Isaac could never).
Then, when Maeve is with Isaac, Otis tells her what the message really said, and she can’t help but be swayed. Tell us again why they make a good couple. In season 3, there’s a lot of back and forth, and although they both finally properly confess to each other and get together, it’s shattered when Maeve makes up her mind to go to America. Now, in Sex Education season 4, that goes pretty well until Otis becomes a jealous prick who can’t even see his girlfriend hang out with other guys. When Maeve comes back, it’s very clear that she needs help and some positive energy to lift her on her feet and send her back to where she belongs. Otis has known all along that Maeve wants to be a writer, so why then did he think she made up her mind to stay back and be with him? Instead of supporting her and encouraging her to go back, Otis blames his mother when she gives Maeve the sound advice she needs. The right adult thing to do. Something Otis can’t seem to understand. Technically, Ruby and Otis were good because they brought out the best in each other. On the other hand, Maeve and Otis bring out the worst in each other more often than not.
Ultimately, it makes sense that they need to fully love each other to let go, and that’s all fine, but to grow, they must be apart, and that’s the best answer we can get to the question of why they didn’t and shouldn’t end up together. Additionally, it’s the perfect ending to Sex Education as well because it’s only high school and there’s a long way ahead in life for both of them that will probably not involve the other. Hopefully Otis will actually grow into his “emotional intelligence” and Maeve will achieve all her amazing goals because that’s how fantastic she is.