Our Favourite Female Characters: Maeve Wiley of ‘Sex Education’

Maeve Wiley is introduced in the Netflix original show ‘Sex Education’ with a, let’s say, interesting nickname. She is portrayed as a ‘bad girl’, with blonde hair with pink dip-dyed ends, a nose ring and a tendency to wear fishnet tights. She immediately shuts down snide comments from her classmates with sharp-tongued sarcasm and keeps very few friends.

And I loved her from the very start.

However, this is not all that there is to Maeve. As the series progresses, we discover that she is exceptionally intelligent, becoming an integral part of the school’s quiz team and earning a place on a prestigious programme in America. She is fiercely defensive of and loyal to her friends and loved ones, particularly her best friend Aimee, with whom she forms an unlikely bond. It is also revealed that her promiscuous reputation is a result of rumours spread by a boy she did not wish to kiss when she was fourteen, leading her to vehemently defend other students when they are similarly shamed.

She has a difficult home situation, living alone in a trailer park due to her mother’s, and later her older brother’s, abandonment. Having discovered that she has an infant sister, Elsie, Maeve places her sister’s needs and welfare above her mother’s feelings, encouraging her to return the child to social services and seek help. Considering that Maeve is only a teenager herself, for her to be able to deal with such a difficult situation is incredibly admirable, and highlights the deeply caring nature behind the tough exterior.

Maeve’s savvy business mind enables her and Otis to earn money by selling sex advice to their classmates. Whilst her and Otis’ relationship is a key part of the storyline, this is not the only dimension to Maeve, and does not consume the whole of her character.

There are many reasons why I love Maeve Wiley. She is smart, savvy, fiercely loyal, compassionate, tenacious and unflappable. She is a multi-layered character that is equal parts strong, independent woman, and affectionate and nurturing. Maeve shows that a female character does not have to be either formidable or gentle. It is possible to combine both elements in to a character and still have her come across as independent and driven. I cannot wait to watch the next series of Sex Education to see what Maeve does next!

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