There are so many things about Season 1 of Ted Lasso that make it a standout show we keep revisiting. One aspect of that allure is Keeley Jones and her friendship with Rebecca Welton. This duo is refreshing from the beginning due to how their friendship defies expectations and subverts stereotypes.
At every turn, Keeley and Rebecca’s lives weave together in such a way that makes it one of the best relationships on Ted Lasso. These women make each other better along the way in small moments just as meaningful as the big ones. Their interactions are always a joy to watch because Juno Temple and Hannah Waddingham bring their all for every joke and emotional beat. It’s even fun to watch them gush about each other in interviews. It all encourages you to root for these women together rather than pitting them against each other.
On a show with many men, one would assume that Ted Lasso would box Keeley and Rebecca into their stereotypes. For example, Keeley would only be a ditsy, younger influencer, whereas Rebecca would only be a cold, older businesswoman. However, no one is ever just one thing, and Ted Lasso leans into that concept by moving beyond those stereotypes rather quickly through characters’ relationships with one another. Rebecca and Keeley’s always-evolving bond with each other incites a breaking of those glass boxes to let us see these women as fully realized characters.
Before they’re even friends, Keeley is instantly intimidated by Rebecca’s confidence. Rebecca asserts herself as a lion who would kill a panda in a heartbeat to prove her power in one of her earliest interactions with Keeley. This scene could have just been one that reinforces those stereotypes. It becomes something else entirely when Ted Lasso follows Keeley to work to see that she chooses to be the lion, too. Though there is a level of intimidation, there’s a hint of admiration and respect as well.
Alternatively, Rebecca doesn’t give a second thought to Keeley, not yet. Keeley is expendable to Rebecca. She’s a means to an end, and that end is to ruin Rupert’s life the same way he ruined hers. Unfortunately for her plan, Rebecca never planned for Keeley to have a heart of gold that chips away at Rebecca’s very worn-out armor.
Keeley does this first when she brings Rebecca a plant that reminds her of Rebecca sings it’s “strong and a bit prickly.” It’s a gesture that doesn’t demonize those parts of Rebecca but sees them as strengths to be recognized. Keeley doesn’t stop there in connecting with the real Rebecca that’s bubbling under the surface. They bond over the harsh reality that photographers target women more often than their male counterparts and monopolize on them.
Keeley’s career path doesn’t make her immune to the paparazzi, but she does have some experience dealing with them one-on-one — at least more than Rebecca. In Season 1 Episode 4, “For the Children,” we see this when Keeley gives Rebecca advice to look confident on the red carpet and then says the words to let her feel confident. It transforms Rebecca on the spot; Rebecca quite literally spins out of joy after Keeley yells out, “Look at her! She’s fucking fit!” This is a moment of solidarity in front of a common adversary, allowing Rebecca to see Keeley in a new light.
There’s a hidden level of irony and maybe even internalized misogyny there since Rebecca is the one who sends the paparazzi after Keeley earlier in the season. Keeley counters this with the exact opposite energy in how she treats the few women present in Season 1. Never once is Keeley rude to Bex, but this is especially true with Rebecca and Flo (aka Sassy).
The introduction of the fantastic Flo could have been an opportune time for Ted Lasso to lean into the idea that there should be a competition between Keeley and Flo because Rebecca could only have one best friend. I can’t be the only one who watched their scenes and waited for that bomb to drop. But, unfortunately, decades of unhealthy relationships between women condition us to believe there is no other way for female friendships to be represented on screen.
Luckily, Ted Lasso pushes back against that convention by giving us the delightful friendship between all three women from the jump. Keely leaps into Sassy’s arms upon meeting her. Not to mention, Rebecca asserts herself as someone who isn’t a hugger, yet she hugs Keeley back, though reluctantly, each time. It’s through the interactions of Rebecca, Keeley, and Sassy that the real Rebecca (as deemed by Sassy) breaks free of the armor she took on in Rupert’s ivory tower.
One of the most prevalent themes throughout the first season of Ted Lasso is accountability, no matter how messy it can be. Rebecca’s Season 1 arc revolves around taking responsibility for her actions and acknowledging the phenomenon that hurt people hurt people. Of course, the latter doesn’t excuse her actions, but it’s an essential factor in understanding her behavior.
Rebecca’s relationship with accountability instantly shifts when she starts to befriend Keeley. During their scene in the restroom in Episode 4, Rebecca reintroduces the concept of accountability to Keeley. However, Rebecca does this actively, bypassing any responsibility of what she’s doing to Ted and has done to Keeley.
Regardless, this personal conversation challenges Keeley to make a positive change in her life (and gives her a job in the following episode). Rebecca encourages Keeley to know that she deserves someone who will want to do the right thing, not because he has to but because he wants to do it. After this, there’s a domino effect for Keeley that will lead to a relationship with Roy, a man who holds himself accountable.
Knowing what we know as an audience provides a very thinly veiled layer of resistance to our viewing experience as Rebecca and Keely get closer. We know that truth will have to come out eventually and that it could not be pretty. However, Ted Lasso does this great thing in letting its characters exist authentically, but they’re also adults who deal with their problems.
It’s almost second nature to believe that the show will drag out the drama between these two women for the sake of tearing them apart. However, Ted Lasso differentiates from that familiar pattern by having Keeley come to Rebecca a handful of times, demanding she takes responsibility for her actions. Sassy even says something similar when she tells Rebecca that she must own the part Rebecca played in the life she lived with Rupert.
The two most important women in Rebecca’s life are the ones telling her that she has to change for the better. She speaks so terribly and rightfully so about Rupert and his inability to do the very thing she must do — take responsibility for her actions. It all comes together beautifully yet heartbreakingly when Rebecca attempts to make a case for withholding the truth from Ted, as it couldn’t possibly change anything to tell him now.
Keeley responds, “It would change how I feel about you,” and leaves Rebecca with that. More factors play into Rebecca’s apology tour, but it’s Keeley’s words that stick the landing. It’s Keeley’s words that push Rebecca in the right direction because her friendship with Keeley isn’t anything; it’s everything.
When it came down to what matters, it came down to Keeley and Rebecca’s friendship. At first glance, that’s the last thing one would expect from a show about football. Then again, Ted Lasso has always defied expectations in being about a whole lot more than football. With that in mind, it’s exciting to think about where Keeley and Rebecca’s friendship will take them in Season 2.
Do you love Keeley and Rebecca’s friendship as much as we do? Let us know in the comments!
Ted Lasso Season 2 premieres Friday, July 23, 2021, exclusively on Apple TV+.