How ‘Ted Lasso’ Succeeds At Representing Female Friendships

Hannah Waddingham, Juno Temple and Ellie Taylor in “Ted Lasso” season two, now streaming on Apple TV+.

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Ted Lasso 2×10, “No Weddings and a Funeral,” is an episode that dives into the complexities of grief with such care and honesty. It’s also an episode that will make you cry, no matter if it’s because you’re laughing so hard. Perhaps the episode’s most unexpected and quietly subversive aspect is how it challenges our ideas of how women’s stories are told and the ways women exist in each other’s narratives.

Even though this show is named after one of its many male characters, Ted Lasso does a great job of discussing and dismantling toxic masculinity in sports. Furthermore, the show’s female characters avoid tired stereotypes and defy expectations of male-dominated media. This depiction of women on TV is due to the creatives in front of and behind the screen. 

Two recent examples of solidarity come to mind when it comes to this team of brilliant artists. Recently, one of Ted Lasso‘s writers, Jamie Lee, took to Twitter to share her love for the female characters and the women in the writer’s room. Jamie Lee, Jane Becker, Phoebe Walsh, Leann Bowen, Ashley Nicole Black, and Sasha Garron‘s hard work portrays realistic female characters and female friendships. 

Plus, no one can forget that incomparable, epic love story between Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple. You don’t have to look far to see how incredibly close those two women are, and it’s not a show to boost ratings. Their love is so real that it transcends TV screens, Variety covers, and Emmys-acceptance speeches. I’d even go as far as to say that they’re soulmates.

In Hannah Waddingham‘s Emmys acceptance speech, she looks at Juno Temple and says, “There’s no Rebecca without Keeley.” Their mutual adoration for each other is so moving to watch. It’s monumental to see these women continuously support each other. Ellie Taylor‘s Sassy is the perfect addition to the iconic duo on screen.

Also, in Waddingham’s speech, she tells Temple, “I swear to God if I could break off one of her arms and give it to you, [I would] because that’s what you are to me.” So if Keeley is Rebecca’s right arm, then Flo is her left. “No Weddings and a Funeral” beautifully depicts that metaphor ten times over. How these women show up for each other shatters many expectations set by the male gaze.

Ellie Taylor and Anthony Head in “Ted Lasso” season two, now streaming on Apple TV+.

For that, this episode’s writer Jane Becker and director MJ Delaney deserve all the accolades. There are the smaller moments that strike me, like when Colin catches Bex breastfeeding during the service. It’s not overtly sexualized or made into a massive thing because it shouldn’t be stigmatized in any way. Even Sassy calling Keeley a troll because that’s what she calls beautiful women feels like a way to poke fun at how women should speak about each other.

Furthermore, the ways Rebecca, Keeley, and Sassy act around and speak to each other stand out. They don’t mince their words for the sake of looking presentable. They don’t make themselves smaller to fit into the expectations set for them by the dominant narrative. My favorite example of this is Sassy’s words to Rupert. Without a beat, her ferocity turns on Rupert when she says, “Oh, right. Having a daughter erases all the shitting things you’ve done to women in your lifetime.”

More often than not, society gives men another chance at redemption after they have a daughter in real life and on-screen. It gives them a reason to redefine their goals or at least benefit from the doubt. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a female character so explicitly step on that impression. Sassy’s fervor doesn’t dim because of the occasion or the location. Her hatred of Rupert and loyalty to Rebecca supersedes even Paul’s funeral.

This decimation of Rupert’s character is deserved and great to see because Rebecca tries to do so as appropriately as possible when he arrives. She bites her tongue a bit, and she even chooses the high road by the end of the episode. That decision comes on the heels of Deborah’s advice: “Because, my darling, the best way to deal with people like that is to make sure they know they can’t get to you.”

That method can work for Rebecca at that moment, but Sassy doesn’t have to choose the high road. Instead, Sassy sticks to Rebecca’s left side with jokes about Rupert’s age locked and loaded. Sassy is that person for Rebecca to lean on physically, and she’s the person Rebecca can depend on. Even before the service, Sassy shows up at Rebecca’s house the way she used to when they were younger, just to put a smile on her best friend’s face.

Then, Rebecca’s right-hand woman shows up just as Rupert leaves after trying to shake Rebecca up. Without any hesitation, Keeley calls Rupert’s baby ugly and promises to stick by her side — until she sees Sassy. Watching Keeley jump into Sassy’s arms is a moment that sparks a whole lot of joy. It takes me back to “Make Rebecca Great Again” when the two of them toast to Rebecca: “To the ties that bind us.”

I wish Ted Lasso would give us more of the solidarity between these three women before the series ends. Seriously, who do I need to beg so Ellie Taylor can stick around as Flo Collins? It’s thrilling to watch Waddingham, Temple, and Taylor bounce of each other. It’s those moments that it feels like we’re seeing the “Old Rebecca” Deborah and Sassy mention. We see a woman be her entire self with people who don’t judge or shame her but encourage her. 

That encouragement initially caught me off guard because of my own internalized misogyny. Like when Sassy slept with Ted, I assumed Rebecca sleeping with Sam would become an issue. While I wish Sassy and Keeley would have questioned Rebecca’s decision to date one of her employees more than they did, I assumed this relationship would cause a rift between Nora and Rebecca.

Other projects conditioned me to believe two women should fight over a man or that a man should drive their relationship apart. It’s the same reason why I assumed Rebecca and Keeley would be adversaries instead of soulmates and Keeley and Sassy would be each other’s competition instead of friends. Nora calling Rebecca a “Boss ass bitch” was the signal I needed to notice that with all of the drama and darkness in Ted Lasso Season 2, none of that exists between this quartet.

As of right now, Rebecca’s relationships with Sassy and Keeley (and Nora) are the most stable ones in her life. They’re the ones that will exist during and long after her one with Sam (and hopefully, eventually Ted). This sisterhood will outlive everything, and that is a pillar of “No Weddings and a Funeral.” Becker and Delaney make women supporting women a cornerstone of a brilliant episode.

It’s astounding to take a step back to notice that Rebecca is the only one Keeley says “I love you” back to during the episode. This declaration doesn’t negate what she feels for Roy (or a potentially deeper connection with Jamie), but it proves that those words have always been her vocabulary for Rebecca. Sassy and Rebecca never say those three words to each other, and they don’t have to feel their immense love for each other.

Words are important, but so are actions that affirm them. Rebecca, Keeley, and Sassy are one of my favorite love stories on Ted Lasso because of how they show up for each other when times are tough but also when they’re not. There are no bounds to the things these women will do for each other, like scale the side of a house. Hannah Waddingham could also speak for Rebecca, Keeley, and Sassy in her acceptance speech when she told Juno Temple, “And if you ever leave my life, I’m gonna stalk you.” Because these three? They’re forever.

What do you love about Rebecca, Keeley, and Sassy’s friendship? Let us know in the comments below!

New episodes of Ted Lasso stream Fridays on Apple TV+!

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