Ted Lasso is a show built on relationships. It’s all about what can happen when people try to put aside their egos and their mistrust of one another and instead believe that they’re capable of supporting each other. And so far in the new season, that trust is for the most part paying off. Ted is starting to open up to Dr. Fieldstone. Nate is trying to believe in himself — a little too forcefully sometimes, yes, but it’s a long season and he’ll come around. Coach Beard and Jane are headed for a healthy split, even if Jane doesn’t know that yet. And things between Beard and Jamie are heating up, as well.
But there is one relationship that’s captured the imaginations of Ted Lasso fans from the show’s very first moments. I’m talking, of course, about the possibility of Ted and Rebecca hooking up. Getting together. Being a couple. Growing old, smiling upon the earth, and not dying, but transforming — becoming entities of pure energy, capable of lifting planets out of a dull existence and into something vibrant. There are a lot of fan theories out there. And they all boil down to the simple, burning hope that Theodore Laurence Lasso and Rebecca Welton will, at some point, be with one another.
With its recent reveal of Rebecca’s secret admirer, the show went and punctured those dreams. That does not, however, mean all hope is lost. Ted Lasso was pitched as a three-season show; we’re approximately halfway through the overall arc. The Lasso universe, already vast, will expand further still.
Are Ted and Rebecca going to get together after all?
In a word: maybe! Ted Lasso‘s writers are already well-known for extreme cheekiness in the form of teasing out storylines over multiple episodes, and for taking more than a few unexpected turns along the way. Rebecca’s apology to Ted, to name just one example, is nearly a season-long arc; by the time we get to the moment of truth in “All Apologies,” it was almost possible to forget that Rebecca had been the show’s initial villain. We got to see her in extremely vulnerable spots: overwhelmed by uncertainty in “For the Children”; admitting her shortcomings as a godmother in “Make Rebecca Great Again”; developing so tight a friendship with Keeley that the two of them 100% deserve their own show. Though her initial plan is devious and destructive, Rebecca finds herself gradually won back to a human and loving place by an unwitting Ted. (It helps that at the same time we meet Season 1’s true villain, Rebecca’s ex-husband Rupert, who is the Emperor Palpatine to her Darth Vader.)
And the slow burn to turn Nate the Great into an unprecedented supervillain bully took even longer. All the charming character quirks, all the comical asides Nate had back in Season 1 — his brilliant roast of the team before the Everton match, or breaking a window accidentally in spur-of-the-moment solidarity with a frustrated Roy, or calling Rebecca a shrew when he thought he’d been fired — look much less funny and a whole lot darker once he begins to vent his lifelong inadequacies and frustrations throughout Season 2.
And while we’re on the subject of Ted Lasso slow burns, let’s not overlook the Bantr reveal itself. This year, the show gave us loads of scenes featuring Rebecca using the app to talk to her mystery match. On more than one occasion, a scene of a daydreaming Rebecca typing something flirty and exciting into her phone…
…has then cut to a shot of Ted, also using his phone. What a coincidence!
As of this writing, we’ve only ever seen Rebecca’s screen and never once seen Ted’s, so it isn’t even clear that he uses Bantr. The implication, though, was clear: Ted and Rebecca are totally getting together, they are flirting with each other and don’t even know it, you don’t spend Christmas giving away presents and singing carols in the street with someone you aren’t going to do sexy stuff and romantic stuff with, Ted & Rebecca 4 eva.
But this plot was a mystery. And, like all good mysteries, it was using Ted and Rebecca as misdirection. So at this point in the conversation it brings me no small measure of satisfaction to gloat, because I was one of the clairvoyant minority who called the Bantr reveal way before it happened. And frankly, Ted Lasso‘s been telegraphing its Sam-and-Rebecca pass since their very first scene together, back in Season One’s “Two Aces.” I mean, come on: Sam goes to Rebecca’s office to ask her to please attend the team exorcism in the cursed treatment room? That is a hilariously absurd scenario. Sam has no seniority on the team (yet) and has never met Rebecca. It would make sense for Ted, or Coach Beard, or Higgins, or even Roy Kent, who is at that point the team captain, to go ask her. It makes zero sense for 20-year-old just-arrived-in-England Sam Obisanya to go. So why does he go? Because of the plot, silly! Because the writers wanted Sam to mistakenly suggest he was about to ask Rebecca for a date, so she could be flattered, so he could then say he understood why she misinterpreted: “You’re so lovely, you must get romantic invitations all the time.”
“So lovely?” “Romantic invitations”? Sam Obisanya talks like a studio-era movie star. He has Ted Lasso’s innocence and purity of character, plus hotness. He’s also deft at nurturing future plotlines, because when he tells Rebecca he likes the idea of a person becoming rich “because of something they gave to the world, not just because of who their family is,” he puts the seed of the Dubai Air protest into the ground as gently as a farmer planting corn. And Rebecca of course does not get romantic invitations all the time, she is struggling mightily in the wake of her divorce. So Sam has her questioning her newfound independent wealth and feeling great about herself thanks to these unexpected compliments from a hot soccer player around half her age.
This was the moment when we clairvoyants, watching at home, turned to our spouses and partners and pets and said “Something’s gonna happen between them.” To which those spouses and partners and pets all said “No way. He’s a baby. And she’s his boss!” And to which we could then reply, “Yes, that’s true. But something’s gonna happen between them.” If you called it right there, go ahead and take a bow. If you noticed the camera linger on Rebecca’s expression every time she had an interaction with Sam from then on, no matter how brief? Take a bow. You earned it. We all did. We called that shit ages ago, stood fast in the face of scorn and logic, and can now reap our just reward. It’s minuscule and fleeting Twitter glory, though, so just one puff before you pass it around the circle.
Ted and Rebecca shippers remain undeterred
But so anyway the point of all that with regard to Ted and Rebecca is just because we found out it’s Sam on the other end of Rebecca’s Bantr banter, that doesn’t mean Rebecca’s meant to be with Sam, end of story. Realistically, she can’t be in a relationship with him — be it a one-night stand, extended fuck party, true romance, or just an awkward chat over coffee — while she is Sam’s boss. And as long as Sam plays for Richmond, that’s exactly what Rebecca is.
What’s more, Rebecca and Sam might not even work together as a couple. For starters, there is a pretty big gap between their ages: Sam turned 20 in the first season, so he’s 21 now; if Hannah Waddingham’s age is any indication, Rebecca is meant to be a little more than twice that. Which of course isn’t to say that people more than twenty years apart in age can’t be together. But there’s a similar gap in their general worldliness, in large part because of just how young Sam is. Though he’s matured since season 1, he’s only lived away from his family and his home country for a year or so; Rebecca has been married and divorced, and exists in the world of fortune and business and celebrities. If they were 30 and 55, or 40 and 65, the differences in life experience wouldn’t be quite as pronounced.
But, for now at least, all that really matters for any potential relationship between Rebecca and Sam is that insurmountable ethical hurdle. (As of this writing, there’s also one other slight problem: neither one of them knows the identity of the person they’re talking to.)
And the same hurdle would of course remain insurmountable if Ted and Rebecca were ever to try coupling. (Given Ted’s overall win-loss record at the helm of AFC Richmond, he might not be Rebecca’s employee for much longer.) But that hasn’t deterred the parade of Ted-and-Rebecca fans yearning for a romantic element to the pair’s story the way a kid wants ice cream for dinner. It might not be the best thing for them — hell, it might not be good for them at all — but gosh darn it if that wouldn’t be satisfying.
Nor should they be deterred! If your attitude toward Ted and Rebecca getting together is like Rebecca’s attitude about the one thing she wants to watch Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig do together, then by golly, spread that hope around. Far be it from me to tell a Ted Lasso fan what about the show to believe in and not believe in. But I do think that a Ted and Rebecca romance would be poison for the show.
Please keep Ted and Rebecca friends, not lovers
The main reason why is very simple: what Ted and Rebecca have built as friends is very, very rare. I can only think of one platonic television relationship that comes close, and that’s Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock. They started at about 50-50 adversaries-colleagues. By the time the show concluded, they had developed a strong and healthy mutual respect for each other, based on shared experiences at work, similar developments in their personal lives, and a near-maniacal need to one-up each other with hilarious burns.
Never did the idea of a serious romantic relationship come up. On the rare occasion somebody did breach the topic, they both recoiled, shuddered, did the disgusted-face-with-tongue-sticking-out thing, the whole bit. There wasn’t any physical attraction there. There wasn’t really a mental attraction, either — more of a respect. Again, one that took time to form, and was forged in the cauldron of white-hot comedy. I tell you, for pure joke density, 30 Rock is one of the all-time greats.
All of which is to say that Rebecca and Ted don’t need romance in their relationship. It wouldn’t add anything currently missing (except the sexy stuff) and would complicate and potentially shatter what’s already there: deep respect and trust; shared trauma; a baker-biscuit dependency that Rebecca will have to wean herself off of should the supply run dry. Ted’s presence at Richmond reoriented Rebecca’s entire conception of what people are capable of and how they can behave. When he said “I forgive you,” he rebuilt her heart. And that’s “heart” like the Grinch after stealing Christmas, *not* like two hearts becoming one. The things they’ve admitted to each other and survived together are what lifelong friendships are built on. Romance runs the risk of destroying that friendship, and for what? And what friendship is more central to Ted Lasso than Rebecca and Ted’s? Break that, and the discourse won’t be dominated by whether the show still has stakes — it’ll be whether this was the moment it jumped the shark, or if it was actually the Christmas episode, or truthfully Ted Lasso just had a flimsy premise all along.
I can’t help but think of the lyrics to “Strange,” the impossibly beautiful and haunting Celeste song that closes “Make Rebecca Again.” Ted closes the door on his marriage, then opens his hotel room to Rebecca’s friend Sassy –- and we realize it was probably Rebecca who told Sassy which room Ted was in:
Say isn’t it strange?
Isn’t it strange?
You look at me
I look at you
With nothing to say
Isn’t it strange?
How people can change
From strangers to friends
Friends into lovers
And strangers again
Ted Lasso‘s Bantr remains a potent plot device
But maybe I’m as wrong about this as I was right about Sam and Rebecca. Maybe Ted, with his unshakeable belief in the power of rom-communism, should in fact wind up with Rebecca, who really should be with someone who makes her feel like she was struck by fucking lightning. We already know Ted is like that — especially in bed; Sassy told us herself! I can’t get past the part where Rebecca had to spit out her biscuit when Sassy started to share some of the more salient details of her night with Ted, but maybe there’s more to that scene. Maybe Rebecca was recoiling not at the thought of Ted, but at the realization that the same hands that made her biscuit did all those unmentionable delicious things to Sassy, all those months and washings ago. Maybe the transitive property created Sassy Body Biscuits in Rebecca’s mind, and the sudden shock of it was too much to bear.
If that’s the case, then there’s certainly room for a physical attraction between Ted and Rebecca as well as a mental one. And what better place for them to find each other than on Bantr, anonymously, while drawing ever closer together in person as well? Figuring out that they were each others’ Bantr match would be the topper on their wedding cake of a friendship — like Love is Blind, just without the vast humiliation and years of regret.
Put another way — say Ted and Rebecca find themselves inching closer to romance, but hold back because they’re worried about possibly destroying their friendship, forcing their many mutual friends to choose between them, and just general uncertainty. If it then turned out they had also been messaging each other on Bantr for however long — weeks, months, whatever the story requires — their formerly anonymous connection would just further prove they’re meant to be together.
It could work. I don’t think it should, but it could. And we still haven’t seen whatever Ted’s doing on his phone whenever the show cuts away from Rebecca. Might just be new biscuit recipes he wants to try out… or it might be a secret.
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