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They're children, for God's sake! They don't know what they want.
~ Michael's most famous quote and his villainous breakdown in series 2 after being pushed to his breaking point.
My life is a failure. My wife’s left, I’m quite sure my son hates me, and I’m unemployed. But I’d rather all those things than be a pumped-up shit of a man like you. You’ve been a shit since you were a child, and I think you’ll be a shit until you die, probably because our dad was the biggest shit of all, and you learnt to bully me so he wouldn’t bully you. And that is such a great shame, but I am too old for it to be my problem any more. Goodbye, Peter.
~ Michael Groff cementing his redemption and turning his back on his older brother and by extension his own childhood trauma.
Mr. Michael Groff is one of the main characters in the 2019 British dramady series Sex Education.
He is the ex-husband of Maureen Groff, the father of Adam Groff and the former headmaster of Moorvale Secondary School. At first he acted as a stern yet fair authority figure with most of his students although was shown to be an emotionally abusive and neglectful parent to Adam, however after losing his marriage and much of his respect in the school board thanks to his unpleasantness and neglect he ended up suffering from a mental breakdown which ultimately got him fired. Following this he began to try and better himself as a person and restore both his reputation and personal relationships.
He appears as the secondary antagonist of series 1, the main antagonist of series 2 and a major character in series 3.
Michael was born as the youngest of two brothers in the Groff household and his parents were almost polar opposites of one another with his mother being kind-hearted and loving with Michael's love for cooking ultimately starting from his love for watching her prepare meals when he was a child. On the other hand Michael's father was nothing more than a cruel, sadistic bully something which his brother Peter emulated as a sort of defence mechanism. Michael suffered great bullying at the hands of both his father and brother and thanks to the former he taught himself to repress his true emotions and become much more cold and unfeeling, something which would cause him great psychological damage overtime to the point where he would struggle to feel even slightly happy.
After growing up and moving out of his parents' home Michael took up work as a Geography teacher and fell in love with a woman named Maureen, with the two even bearing a child named Adam together. Unfortunately however Michael's upbringing ended up rubbing off on him with him becoming cold and distant from both Maureen and Adam, the latter of whom he was very harsh and cruel upon, ultimately turning him into a bully and delinquent which made the relationship between the two worse and worse overtime.
At first glance Michael appears to be nothing more than an uptight, pompous, cantankerous and cruel man with little to no care for anyone but himself unless they can boost his or the school's reputation. On top of this he had a fairly obvious short fuse which his family was often subjected to, in particular his son Adam who he deeply resented and showed little to no affection for usually either neglecting or emotionally abusing him, similarly he barely gave Maureen any attention although was at least civil with her. He also appeared to be rather apathetic with his job, caring mainly about results rather than the problems his students were facing.
In spite of this however Groff did have some good qualities; while he was rather apathetic towards his students in terms of their emotional and psychological needs he did at least show some amount of care and concern for them even if it was somewhat misguided on certain occasions. He also did genuinely love his family although didn't know how to express it, this was due to the fact that he had deep seeded emotional and psychological trauma from when he was a child and frequently bullied by both his father and older brother, with his father going as far as to ridicule him and tell him that "boys don't cry" after it became too much for him one day as a child. By his own admission he apparently hasn't felt genuine joy in years.
Groff also began making an effort to better himself as a person and be more emotionally ready for those in his personal life, rekindling his friendships with his former employees Colin Hendricks and Emily Sands and becoming closer to them as well as trying to make amends with Maureen although did respect her wishes over not wanting to get back together in the end. During this time he also cut out toxicity from his life such as his older brother and started atoning for his past mistakes, being helped into coping with his problems by Jean Milburn after a session with her. He also found a passion for cooking during this time with it potentially becoming his new calling.
Rather curiously Michael also often eats chocolate bars when he's stressed.
Michael is an aging man in his late forties with refined and sharp facial features, blue eyes, a strong build, receding red hair and some stress marks across his face. He has a rather formal dress sense although began to tone it down slightly after losing his job, giving him a slightly more dressy-casual style instead.
Michael's gradual redemption vaguely mirrors that of his son's with both characters suffering life changing events during the finale's of their respective series when they appeared as the big bad before slowly revealing their more sensitive and good-natured qualities in the following series.