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ted-lasso-ted-rebecca-season-3-finale.jpg

The Shippers Have Something To Say About The 'Ted Lasso' Finale

By Brian Richards | TV | June 9, 2023 |

By Brian Richards | TV | June 9, 2023 |


ted-lasso-ted-rebecca-season-3-finale.jpg

A lot has been said about the season/series finale of Ted Lasso since it aired last week, and about the show’s third season altogether. (Much of it has been said by our very own Kaleena, who deserves a standing ovation for all of her work in recapping the series.) The things that have been said about the finale, and about Season 3, have been echoed by many: Episodes have been too long, too uneven and unfocused, Nate’s storyline and its accompanying redemption arc/love story with Jade felt completely disappointing, too many story decisions happening offscreen and between episodes, etc.

The one issue with this finale that has resulted in a tidal wave of complaints online: Ted and Rebecca’s friendship, and how nothing happened between them in the finale that led to the start of a romantic relationship.

Fans were upset about this, especially TedBecca shippers, and felt as if they had been played for fools by the writers, particularly co-showrunners Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt. (Ted Lasso co-creator and co-showrunner Bill Lawrence’s absence from the series during this season was quite discernable, as he had stepped away to work on the Apple TV+ series Shrinking with Brett Goldstein.) They felt as if they had been gaslit and condescended to, not just by the Ted Lasso writers, but also by some critics and fans who insisted on telling them there was no romantic or sexual chemistry whatsoever between Ted and Rebecca, that there’s nothing wrong with wanting their friendship to stay the way it is and remain platonic, and that it was silly and unnecessary for them to have wanted and expected more. From People.com:

During a Reddit AMA that took place after Ted Lasso’s season 3 finale, Brendan Hunt — who plays Willis Beard but also serves as a co-creator, writer and executive producer — revealed that a romance between Ted (Jason Sudeikis) and Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) nearly happened. Hunt, 50, responded to a fan’s question about whether “Ted-and-Rebecca endgame [was] ever considered in the writer’s room.”

“Out of professional responsibility, yes,” he said in response. “But never with enthusiasm.”

Hunt also answered another fan’s question about why Ted tells the team and Coach Beard that he loves them, but the titular character didn’t do the same with “his cosmically connected platonic soulmate” Rebecca during their teary-eyed goodbye at the airport.

“It was not something particularly discussed,” Hunt admitted. “I will note, as have you, that Rebecca doesn’t say it either, so I wouldn’t call that imbalanced.”

The actor added, “In my personal opinion, in the airport scene they are both struggling with whether or not to say it. But they both know instinctively that if they do, it could open a floodgate they’d rather not open.”

Hunt also had this to say about expectations for Ted and Rebecca to have become romantically involved.

“We have been taught by years and years of television that when there is a male lead and a female lead they end up together,” he wrote. “That can be hard conditioning to see past.”

Throughout its three-season run, Ted Lasso has referenced classic romcoms, and the people who make them, particularly the late and legendary Nora Ephron, and the tropes that they’re known for. One of the show’s best episodes was a 38-minute-long tribute to romcoms called “Rainbow,” which ends with Roy quitting his job as a TV sports commentator so he can run all the way across town to be with the (other) love of his life: AFC Richmond. So if you’re going to insist that romance between Ted and Rebecca was never your first priority, and treat it as if it’s not (or shouldn’t be) that important to the Ted Lasso fanbase, then why bother playing in that sandbox in the first place?

What really felt like a cruel twist of the knife to TedBecca shippers was the opening scene of the finale, in which Rebecca is seen watching TV in her kitchen, wearing only a robe, and drinking coffee. In walks Ted, sleepy-eyed and wearing his pajamas, with Rebecca glancing at him from behind her coffee cup, unable or unwilling to say a word about what has just happened between the two of them. It was a moment that caused many a jaw to hit the floor, mine included. And then, the Ted Lasso writers went, “Ha! Fooled ya!,” in the form of Coach Beard making an entrance in that same kitchen, and sauntering around in nothing but his bright red underwear as if he was auditioning for the remake of Zardoz. It was as if the show was telling its fans, “Sorry, everyone! We know what it is you want, but you’re not gonna get it!”

(Mind you, I’m not even a hardcore TedBecca shipper, but I’ve always enjoyed the onscreen chemistry between Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham. If TedBecca actually did happen, and become a thing? I wouldn’t have been opposed to it.)

Toxic positivity, characters behaving as if they had the Idiot Ball glued to both hands; Roy and Keeley’s relationship being torn apart for nothing; Jamie suddenly deciding that he now wants to be with Keeley again, and giving the show a love triangle that it doesn’t need; the happiest endings relationship-wise going to Nate (who again, has a love story with Jade that makes little to no sense, and not just because I was still wondering whether Jade’s behavior towards Nate in Season 2 was racism, her just being an a—hole, or both) and Coach Beard (whose love story with Jane has been seen as toxic, disturbing, and not nearly as interesting as the show would like us to believe). And according to some fans, the finale kinda/sorta leads us to believe that Ted might make another go at patching things up with Michelle, despite the fact that she not only ended their marriage, but went on to begin a relationship with their marriage counselor, which is an ethics violation (and quite simply, just a very f-cked-up decision) that neither Ted nor the show itself ever really treats with the gravity it deserves.

The scene between Ted and Rebecca in the empty seats of Nelson Road was another thing that infuriated fans. It featured Rebecca pouring her heart out to Ted while presenting him with numerous options that would allow him to remain in the U.K. and also be with Henry, only for Ted to say very little, and (in the eyes of some fans, anyway) seemingly give no real consideration to what was being said to him. At least one Ted Lasso fan compared this scene to the heartbreaking exchange between Fleabag and Hot Priest in the Fleabag series finale, in which Fleabag tells him, “I love you,” only for Hot Priest to respond with, “It’ll pass.” For many TedBecca shippers, that comparison hit the bullseye just as accurately as one of Ted’s darts.

Like many other fandoms, there were some people who chose the wrong way to express their anger and disappointment about their desires and demands about fictional characters not becoming a reality, in the form of lashing out at Sudeikis and Hunt in their mentions and Direct Messages on Twitter. Others have not only chosen to talk and vent with each other online about how the finale and the series as a whole have left them feeling, but they’ve also made their way to the popular fanfic website Archive of Our Own. It’s where they can write their own versions of how Ted Lasso ended, and also pen the happy and romantic ending for Ted and Rebecca that they were hoping for, but didn’t get.

Romancelandia, which is the community of people who read, write, and absolutely love romance novels, has long been used to the condescension and disrespect they often get from people who don’t understand and don’t care about the literary genre that brings them some much-needed joy, escapism, and heat. Those same negative viewpoints are also applied to romance that is featured in movies and television shows, as evidenced by the way that people scoffed at the success of shows like Scandal and True Blood, and at movies like Notting Hill and When Harry Met Sally… Many TedBecca shippers felt that same level of disrespect from much of social media for expressing what and how they felt. With the notable exception of Sam and Dean Winchester on Supernatural (I don’t want to throw dogsh-t all over anyone’s picnic, but…WHY? WHY THE HELL IS WINCEST A THING THAT EXISTS?!), there’s nothing wrong with shipping two characters and wanting something to happen between the two of them. (Or three characters, in the case of fans who now want Roy, Keeley, and Jamie to become a throuple.) Especially if the chemistry between them is incredible, if the sparks between them are impossible to ignore, and if the occasional seed has been planted to pique our interest and make us go, “What if?”

So it makes sense that the people from Romancelandia who watch Ted Lasso couldn’t help but ask: Where’s the Happily Ever After? Where’s the Happy For Now? Not just for Ted and Rebecca, but for Roy and Keeley, as well. I was almost tempted to include Sam and Simi (the chef at his restaurant) in this category, but Sam is Simi’s boss, and the show already got some grief from critics and fans last season about Sam being in a relationship with someone he works for. If there’s one rule that Romancelandia firmly believes in, it’s that a romance isn’t a romance if it doesn’t have a Happily Ever After ending, or a Happy For Now ending.

There are some fans who would say that Ted Lasso isn’t just a romance, but also a “sports movie,” as Dustin described it, so romantic couplings shouldn’t be its highest or only priority. But the same can easily be said for the series Friday Night Lights, which was a “sports movie” that featured plenty of romance. And yet, that series ended its five-season run with happy endings for several of its couples: Eric and Tami, Matt and Julie, Luke and Becky, even Riggins and Tyra looked like they might give their relationship another shot. Some Ted Lasso fans also couldn’t help but wonder if Sudeikis’ real-life troubles with his former partner, Olivia Wilde, affected his work on Ted Lasso, enough that it resulted in him crafting a scenario in which Ted turns his back on football (and on his own personal and professional happiness) to be with his son and co-exist with his ex, who is now in a relationship with someone he doesn’t entirely like or approve of. If that’s the case, then maybe it would’ve been best if Apple TV+ had delayed production on Shrinking, and kept Bill Lawrence around as showrunner so that he could bring Ted Lasso to the finish line instead of Sudeikis.

If you’re going to lean heavily on having romance as part of your story, and play around in that genre while using many of the things that romance is known and loved for, don’t be surprised at the backlash you get when you suddenly feel the need to pull back from everything you’ve done and go, “Romance? Eww! Who needs that?,” as you’re bringing the story to a close. (Before you even ask: Rebecca’s last-minute romance with the Flying Dutchman didn’t bring the same level of joy and satisfaction to many fans that TedBecca probably would.) Most of the complaints have nothing to do with hating on platonic friendships, or believing that fictional men and women can’t and shouldn’t just be friends and soulmates without sex entering the picture. For TedBecca shippers, the series was three seasons of watching two people who are deeply broken and hurt, realizing how much they care about each other, and how much they have in common, as their bond becomes deeper and stronger. There isn’t anything wrong with seeing a bond like this in the form of friendship, but there also isn’t anything wrong with wanting to see a bond like this in the form of romantic love. And it’s not something that TedBecca shippers (the ones who have some damn Act-Right, mind you) should be shamed or insulted for believing.

As Ted said to Rebecca after her ‘truth bomb’ to him in Season 1: “You know, I think if you care about someone, and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothing you can’t get through together.” To see Ted and Rebecca’s story seemingly end without the two of them acting on this when it was needed most is what’s left those shippers feeling heartbroken. Because all this has done is prove that Ted Lasso, both the character and the show, isn’t the true believer in Rom-Communism that it proclaims to be.