Movies & TV Shows

6 Times We Felt Sorry For Jackson (& 6 Times He Could’ve Been Nicer)

Jackson Marchetti is a fan favorite on Netflix’s Sex Education. He’s Moordale High’s Head Boy, an excelling swimmer, popular at school with students and teachers, and an all-round good guy. In season 1, he begins a relationship with Maeve, but she breaks up with him when she realizes he isn’t right for her.

In season 2, Jackson’s story takes a darker turn. Still heartbroken over his relationship with Maeve, he feels lost and empty. He also isn’t enjoying swimming, so he purposefully injures himself to take some time off. During this time, he gets the part of Romeo in the school’s musical production of Romeo and Juliet and forms a friendship with his tutor, Viv. He seems like a genuinely good person, but he often acts selfishly or without thinking.

Updated on November 12th, 2022, by Kevin Pantoja: Three seasons in and Jackson Marchetti remains one of the most complex characters on Sex Education. He comes across as the school’s biggest star with a bright future but he’s weighed down by the pressure to be great. He’s also shown incredible growth over the course of the show as he continually learns. It has made it so there are times when viewers are infuriated with him and when they feel sorry for the guy.


Felt Sorry For Him

The Pressure On Him

Jackson struggles with the pressure placed on him to perform well, especially in swimming. Early in the series, he reveals that he’s struggled with anxiety since he was a kid, and this pressure makes it worse.

Everyone around him expects great results from him, and his mother constantly presses him to train more, train harder, to pour all of his time and commitment into his sport. But he also feels pressure from the school, from his teammates, and from himself. By the time season 2 rolls around, he feels like he can’t deal with it anymore. Many fans responded to this arc, even if they haven’t gone through exactly the same experience.

When He Calls Training “Prison”

After he recovers from his self-inflicted injury, Jackson sarcastically jokes that he’s going back to prison, meaning training. He quickly tries to cover up his morbid delivery of the joke, but his deflation is worrying.

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Jackson is afraid of telling the truth about how he feels because he knows that his peers expect him to get back into the swing of things. His mum thinks he’s excited and ready to strive towards his goals, but he actually feels trapped in his athletic lifestyle and doesn’t see a way out that doesn’t involve hurting either himself or someone he cares about.

When He Breaks Down

That aforementioned pressure on Jackson becomes too much for him to handle. By the time Otis’ party comes around in season 2, audiences have already seen Jackson injure himself to avoid swimming. When he learns that he’ll be back in action soon, he can’t handle it.

Jackson nearly harms himself again at Otis’s party and has to be comforted by Viv. Sadly, even with his friend helping him, Jackson can’t bring himself to truly be open and honest with her. So even when he lashes out at her and fans get mad at him, they still feel bad for her.

When Maeve Breaks Up With Him

Maeve breaking up with Jackson in Sex Education

The way Jackson goes about convincing Maeve to be his girlfriend doesn’t make him out to be the most genuine person, but as he gets to know her, he truly does care for her. He believes that she likes him, too, so he’s confused when she decides to break up with him seemingly out of the blue.

The audience knows that she was never sure about him in the first place and that she’s starting to develop feelings for Otis, but Jackson is blissfully unaware of this. He even gets to know her brother, even though Maeve is notoriously private about her family. They open up to each other and he’s sure everything is great, so when she dumps him unceremoniously, viewers can’t help but feel sorry for him.

At The School Dance

Sex Education Ending Explained

Although he isn’t on his best behavior at the dance, Jackson does have to witness Otis have his shining moment and Maeve’s admiration of him. Jackson notices Maeve’s awe-struck look even through his drunkenness, proving just how powerful and obvious her feelings for Otis are.

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Afterward, he interrupts Maeve and Otis’s conversation and accidentally (or maybe not) reveals that he paid Otis so that he could get to know Maeve better. Viewers can’t help but feel sorry for him since he’s so drunk he barely knows what he’s saying or how much he’s hurting Maeve and their relationship.

When Hope Demotes Him

Sex Education season 3 Hope, Jackson, and Cal

When Hope first arrives at the school, it seems like she’ll be a nice addition and someone who respects the students. The opposite proves to be true as she has her own vision of how people should act and doesn’t like being challenged on it.

Jackson agrees with Cal, a new non-binary student, about not painting over a wall covered in graffiti and takes the idea to Hope, who initially asked him to cover it up. Her response was to dismiss his views and demote him from Head Boy. It’s a petty thing to do, especially since losing Head Boy can look bad for Jackson’s university hopes.

Could’ve Been Nicer

When Viv Helps Him With His Self-Harm

After Jackson is injured in the gym, he’s glad to have a few weeks away from training. But at Otis’s “small gathering” he reveals to his new friend Viv that he injured himself on purpose. She’s quick to comfort him but is also very concerned.

Jackson is irritated by the statistics she starts spouting and calls her a robot, which deeply hurts her feelings. He’s further angered when she tells his moms that he hurt himself on purpose. He refuses to talk to Viv (and his moms) for some time, but what she does is the right thing and it shows that she’s a true friend even when Jackson treats her poorly.

When He Lashes Out At His Parents

Jackson's parents in Sex Education

Though Jackson is scared, anxious, and uncertain, the way he treats his mothers isn’t something to be proud of. For instance, when their car breaks down, he tells them that they should get a divorce.

True, they often bicker, but many couples do. Jackson’s view of the world is so negative at this point, and he’s so sick of his mothers arguing about his swimming, that he takes his anger out on them.

At The School Dance

Maeve at the school dance in Sex Education

Sure, Jackson didn’t deserve to be dumped so harshly, but he also should have treated Maeve better. For example, he just assumes that she’ll want to accompany him to the school dance without asking in advance or making sure she wants to go. After overcoming her reluctance, her brother helps her get a dress that she really loves.

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When Jackson comes over to pick her up, she emerges from her room, almost unrecognizable, but he’s so wrapped up in his own problems that he doesn’t even pay attention to her. At the dance, he doesn’t seem to care if she’s having a good time and interrupts her conversation with Otis. At this point, he’s stumbling drunk. Later in the night, he comes over to her trailer and begs her to take him in even though she’s not happy with him. Amid all this, he still has room to feel jealous of Otis.

To Otis

Before Jackson realizes that Maeve and Otis are in love with each other, he treats Otis rather poorly. He uses him for information without a care for anyone’s feelings and without Otis’s consent.

When Otis tries to talk to him, Jackson ignores him and makes his way elsewhere. He generally treats Otis like he’s a little kid who doesn’t deserve his full attention or serious consideration. In season 2, Jackson’s feelings towards him may be justified, but he’s a little more mature and restrained, so he’s not outwardly rude most of the time.

When He Confronts Drunk Otis

Sex Education Season 2 Otis and Maeve

In season 2, Otis decides to host a “small gathering of friends” at his house to prove to both Ola and Maeve that he’s “chill” (he’s not). Jackson ends up coming along because it’s expected of him, but he certainly doesn’t have a good time.

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Otis gets drunk and shares a brief interaction with an irritated Jackson. Both boys have by now seen Maeve hanging out with Isaac, and neither is happy about the new pairing. But when Otis tries to talk to Jackson, he interrupts him and says, “You do know that Maeve dumped me because she’s in love with you? And you’re still not with her.”

When He Disrespects Mr. Hendricks

Colin Hendricks

When Jackson thinks of trying out for the school musical, he encounters Mr. Hendricks, who is slightly too enthusiastic about the prospect of Jackson being involved – just as he’s slightly too enthusiastic about everything.

Later, Jackson dismisses the teacher without the respect he deserves. The way Jackson speaks to him is generally disrespectful, and he doesn’t even attempt to show him any manners or confide in him. Mr. Hendricks already deals with the students’ worst – like when Eric yells at him – and he hasn’t done anything but support Jackson, so his rudeness is unfair.

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