Toxic Assertiveness in Ted Lasso’s Drama

Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) is a coach who doesn’t care about winning or losing. He made this clear this in the first season, much to the irritation of AFC Richmond fans, who consider the response to be one with no commitment to results. Ted, as he warns, wants his players to be “better people”, a tougher and often overlooked battle in the sport.

We reached the third season where Ted collected big wins and bitter defeats, but none more significant than turning Nate Shelley (Nick Mohammed) into a monster. And now?

As the Ted Lasso series has brilliantly shown us, adversity shapes our personality in more opposite ways. In the second season, we saw how absentee, authoritarian, and psychologically abusive fathers destroyed self-esteem and created triggers in everyone: Rebecca with the womanizing father, Jaime with the drunk and aggressive father, and Nate with the oppressive father. And Ted? With a depressed and distant father, who took his own life almost in front of him. That’s right if you’ve heard that Ted Lasso is only a cute and uplifting series, pay attention to the hard and important messages that are there. The third and final season will be about redemption, from the monsters and victims that are Ted and Nate.

Ted’s positivity, whose roots nobody really knows (wanting to help those who suffer in silence), paradoxically accelerated the moral destruction of Nate, a repressed man who has at home the message that responding in kind is the alternative that generates respect. He was ‘discovered’ by Ted, sponsored, and elevated to a position of respect, but Nate also wanted charisma and love, the two things that are not in him and that Ted has in abundance. It’s easy for Ted to “be himself”, speak his mind, and maintain an authenticity that makes him adored despite basic professional flaws. In three years, did you only learn the rules from the FIFA game? Unlikely. Ted LISTENS to people, that secret is what they haven’t figured out yet or don’t want to embrace. At the press conference, he meets every single one of the reporters who could be there just to attack him, he doesn’t care as long as they’re okay. Yes, he manages to invent “toxic altruism”.

We found our technician still suffering from the end of his marriage, with the distance that his work imposed on his son. Nate, who is his mirror of evil, planted doubt at the end of the season by questioning what Ted is doing by “running away” from where he should be: in the United States facing his personal defeats. Instead, he’s in London “saving” people who aren’t his responsibility.

Questions are the keynote of the opening of the episode, in line with the teaser for the season that used You Can’t Always Get What You Want, by the Rollings Stones. In theory, everyone has achieved their goals, but they are empty. Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddigham) is a successful businesswoman, but she is consumed with her feud with her villainous and disgusting ex-husband, Ruppert Mannion (Anthony Head), who wins everything when he does what he loves: destroying people. Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) wanted to be recognized as a professional and not Roy Kent’s (Brett Goldstein) girlfriend and now the two are separated without understanding the reason, and without being able to go back. And so we go. To our delight, even Nate isn’t doing well.

Nate is doing what he thinks his father would expect of him, but instead of succeeding, he’s only reinforced that he needs to be even more of something he’s not. Materially he’s sold: he has a gigantic room, people fawning over him and fearing him, but he’s more alone than ever. He is petty, cruel, and detested. On the other hand, Ted has been asked to assume assertiveness, to respond in the same tone, and to put an end to Nate. He can’t, he doesn’t want to.

Was Ted being a coward? Does he lack the pulse they expect him to have? Could he be the person AFC Richmond needs?

By this point, the Ted Lasso Way is anything but predictable. I’m still betting on Ted. And you?


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