Michelle Lasso’s Sweet Cruelty

Michelle Lasso (Andrea Anders) is a complex antagonist, like every character in Ted Lasso. Ted’s ex-wife urged him to leave the country so he would have “room” to rethink their marriage, and now that they’re divorced, she’s cruelly sweet to him, preventing Ted from moving on. What does Michelle want?

Although he talked about relationship problems with her, Ted (Jason Sudeikis) doesn’t delve into the issues that drove them apart. Just like he is with Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) – I’m #tedbecca to death – he’s very good friends with Michelle, she understands his humor and his outlook on life. But Michelle doesn’t love Ted, for all the genuine affection she still has for her child’s father. There is a great deal of guilt between the two that has not been resolved and that keeps them in a toxic relationship.

From what has been shared about the end of their marriage, it’s safe to say that Michelle and Dr. Jacob (Mike O’Gorman) got off to an unethical and questionable start. Ted complained that when he agreed to couples therapy, at Michelle’s request and precisely with Jacob, the counselor defended her and attacked him, never keeping it neutral. At least that’s how Ted felt. Having been ‘exchanged’ by the person you both trusted to save the relationship is the very least, criminal. Ted could suspend his wife’s boyfriend’s license in a heartbeat, but he’s struggling to walk with dignity. And she plays him to keep it at that.

Showing Jacob and Michelle as two dear and dull people, oblivious of the pain they inflict on Ted forcing him to witness their bliss on the way to Paris is pure cruelty. When the series show Rupert (Anthony Head) moving on with his life they don’t save an ounce of depth in his lack of character, which makes it easier for Rebecca (or would help) to break with the negative pattern of her love life. Michelle and Jacob, on the other hand, feel rightfully guilty (because they are!), but shamelessly force Ted to share their guilt. If he reacts negatively, they are victims. If he accepts, they are right. He feels forced to play along to spare Henry from further pain. It hurts us too!

So it’s Ted who has the biggest guilt complex and has been manipulated over it still. Thanks to Dr. Jacob (and Michelle), he believes that it was HIS flaws that drove his wife away, as if he believes that she left him for “someone better”, or someone who can give her what he couldn’t. It’s not true, Michelle has been and still is shady and is keeping Ted stuck in the worst of “what ifs?” that is so typical of the party that is left behind and still is somehow thinking to be in love with the former partner. She knows who she loves and is in charge of her life. Ted is not.

Why does Michelle act so cruelly patronizing? I don’t think for a moment that she wants Ted back, but she possibly only feels sorry for him. She knows the truth about Ted’s father and why he cares about creating a good environment for Henry above all, including supporting excruciating personal pain. I believe she did become engaged to Jacob – Rebecca’s call to Ted was to confirm that he was right – but Michelle “hides” the ring, thus creating false hope for the coach of a second chance with her. I mean, that’s one of the possibilities that the show is taunting us, that in the end, Ted will drop everything to try again to be with Michelle and Henry.

Falling out of love with someone is just as hard as falling in love. Not villainizing Michelle is another clever storytelling by Ted Lasso. It would be too easy to judge her, to highlight her insensibility and her selfishness, all true. But she is presented as a nice person that simply is not in love with Ted anymore. Her worst flaw may not put on a Rupert-level ex-wife, but she is not too far behind Rebecca’s ex by acting sweetly cruel, or simply, patronizing.

We don’t know Michelle, her past, or her present, but we trust that being the woman Ted chose to marry makes her special to us. Maybe she needed to stand up for herself, get out of her husband’s shadow, and discover things she didn’t experience younger. We don’t know. She blames him and his positivity. That makes her a coward.

Maybe the time apart will make her reconsider everything and ask Ted to come back. The series hinted at this, with her smile when he finally tells her how he really feels about her with her new man. Michelle knows that Ted prefers to withhold negative and potentially critical feelings, hiding behind what she called overwhelming positivity, and she holds back any single word to meet Ted halfway. She is playing with his guilt non-stop.

Maybe Michelle is just feeling guilty about not liking one nice guy and wanting another. It’s a fair and honest possibility. But we must notice that Jacob has Ted’s clumsy humor, so she didn’t go after a different type. She simply didn’t want Ted. Maybe next week we’ll see him overcome the main trigger for a panic attack when he hears about her wedding. Sometimes you have to be tough and “villainous” to release the person who doesn’t deserve to be unhappy with you, which is a role she is refusing to play. I wanted greater firmness on her side, it would be more dignified. But would it be her game to keep someone as a backup?

Whichever is propelling this, my hope is that it could finally be the magnet for Rebecca. The second Ted effectively finds someone Michelle might look at him differently, and a little too late, we hope. The lack of a ‘spark’ between Rebecca and Ted also worries me, as it’s taking too long for them to connect.

“Oklahoma”? Ted, send Michelle to hell and get on with Rebecca!


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