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Ted Lasso finale: Show delivers on everything we needed

Jul 28, 2023Jul 28, 2023

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‘Ted Lasso’ stuck the landing in a perfectly imperfect conclusion.

Yeah, it might be all that we get. Ted Lasso ended season three on Wednesday, and while nothing official has been said about the future of the show, it's impossible to view "So Long, Farewell" as anything but the series finale. Our last trip to Richmond AFC was nothing short of perfection, which gave us satisfying conclusions to all the storylines that could be settled — while leaving others open for interpretation as they move on with their lives.

Nothing has been more grating and insufferable this season than watching people hate on Ted Lasso to earn internet cool points. There are absolutely valid criticisms of the third season. Nate's character turn came too fast, Sam didn't get enough time in season three to close out his story properly, and for a show that centered so much on mental health, I think it's a shame that Ted was allowed to more or less work through his issues by himself, rather than work Dr. Sharon more. Still, with Lasso closing out the big three series finales this week (along with Succession and Barry) it's so tiresome to see critics lean on the same tired tropes about this show and remain unable to experience its joy due to Tall Poppy Syndrome.

In one of the most jaw-dropping openings to any episode of Ted Lasso, we’re greeted with Rebecca watching a sports report about AFC Richmond in her kitchen, before Ted emerges in his pajamas. It was the ultimate "oh, God ... they didn't" moment — and fears quickly pivoted to utter confusion when Coach Beard emerged wearing a t-shirt and thong that revealed more about Beard than we ever knew. We then learned there was a gas leak in their building, and Rebecca's became a place of refuge.

The expectations of the truth bomb at the end of the penultimate episode were dead on. We all saw this coming. Ted informed Rebecca that this was going to be his last season at Richmond, with the realization he had to return home to establish a deep relationship with his son before he wasted too much time. Ted achieved everything he needed to at Richmond, both professionally and personally — making him more at peace with the decision that anyone else in his orbit.

Rebecca in particular took all this the hardest. She was rendered incapable of contemplating Ted leaving, procrastinating on any decision involving finding a replacement. Ted and Rebecca had one of the greatest love stories in all of Ted Lasso. Their mutual support and friendship caused each of them to learn trust. Ted was taught by Rebecca that he could open up about his personal life and mental health struggles, while Rebecca was truly confronted with the first man in her life who wasn't playing an angle or trying to get something out of her. After the deep betrayal by Rupert, and even Higgins (who covered for Rupert's affair), it left Rebecca unable to trust men — but Ted was steady, reliable, and predictable — ready each morning with a corny pun and a biscuit to kick off the day.

For a show about soccer that was never really about soccer, there was a lot of soccer in the finale. Richmond's surge in season three was wonderful, albeit a massive deus ex machina for the sports side of the show. A lot of comparisons have been made to Leicester City's unpredictable 2015-16 Premier League title, but that analogy is a little forced. It was much too convenient to have Richmond rise from cellar dwellers to champs in a year — regardless of what happened off the pitch. The show never touched on the business side, transfers, or players wanting to join new clubs — which absolutely would have happened in real life, but we didn't need it to.

Ted Lasso was never about true realism. This was not a show that aimed to explore the ins and outs of professional soccer. It was a workplace comedy, with the struggles of a team being an extended metaphor for life.

This finale wasn't the deepest episode we’ve seen, nor did it need to be. This was about tying up loose ends, giving viewers some satisfying conclusions, and cutting some major onions when Richmond's players, struggling at the half against West Ham, all revealed they kept pieces of the torn up "BELIEVE" sign — piecing them back together on the table in the locker room.

Richmond won, but they weren't victorious. While they completed a heroic comeback against West Ham, so too did Manchester City win and solidify themselves as premier league champions. We didn't get the truly saccharine sweet "worst to first" sports story it seemed like the show was setting up, though we learned the value of the club swelled into the billions on the back of a place in the Champion's League.

"So Long, Farewell" wasn't necessarily about closure, but coping with change — and how it needs to be a personal decision independent of anyone else. I admire that Ted Lasso's finale didn't strive to wrap EVERYTHING up with a neat bow, because some of the issues were too big to fix in 114 minutes.

The biggest, and unquestionably most debated will be the love triangle between Roy, Jamie, and Keeley. Though, truth be told this wasn't really a triangle. Jamie and Roy made the decision they were vying for Keeley's affections, and someone would be the winner. Ultimately she rebuffed them both and stood as the independent woman she’d grown into over the course of the show. This is really something you could see going any number of ways. Perhaps one of the lads ends up with Keeley, maybe they don't — but in the end it doesn't really matter. The three have a deep friendship that endures, and even if it's not the relationship Roy or Jamie hoped for, it wasn't up to them to make the decision.

Rebecca learned a familiar trope: The family you choose is often more important than the one you’re born into. Instead of running off to find herself abroad, or starting a relationship with the Dutch house boat owner (who we learned is a pilot with a daughter), she decided to stay in Richmond, gifting 49 percent of the team to the fans who stuck by the greyhounds, and staying on with the team she’d grown to love.

Ted returns home. We don't know what's next for him, and neither does Ted — and he's at peace with that. It feels extremely unlikely he and Michelle will get back together, but that's okay. His job isn't to rekindle a romantic relationship for himself, but to mold his son the same way he molded the players at Richmond during his time in England. To teach kindness, compassion, openness, and the value of vulnerability — it's not a role Ted is comfortable with when it comes to his son, but he's learning.

Other quick hits from the Ted Lasso finale

The world can be horrible, pessimistic, and soul crushing without being reminded of it in every piece of media we consume. We didn't need Ted Lasso to mirror the bottom-feeding depravity of Succession. Sometimes we all need to be reminded that for as bleak the world can seem, there really are still wonderful people in the world just trying to do a little bit each day to get better themselves — so long as we believe. Ted Lasso was a reminder to all of us that darkness doesn't last forever. As bad as things get there has always been a dawn, and the show gave us a place to laugh, cry, think, and feel every single week. I will absolutely miss tuning in every week, but I’m also eternally grateful they didn't drag this out past its time.

There will never be another show like Ted Lasso.

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