Welcome back to another Ted Lasso scene breakdown, while we’ve discussed the importance of the locker room vulnerability shared between Keeley and Roy and how significant the scene is for character development, it’s time to discuss what happens previously. Ted Lasso is brilliantly hilarious, but we won’t stop praising the fact that the series excels at vulnerability and it does so poignantly with its male characters, serving as a massive fuck you to the toxic masculinity that often reigns on TV.
Ted Lasso is a series that rewards good people and it’s a series that gives men the opportunity to showcase bouts of heartache in situations that feel incredibly organic. In “All Apologies,” Roy struggles with the prospect of not being the star football player and while his journey towards acceptance will likely be explored more in season two, this is a great start to reveal that transitions aren’t always easy, and they take time. We note that Keeley’s persistence will be a beacon of hope for Roy after the game against Manchester, but this also serves as a reminder of just how little he truly loses when/if he can no longer play football.
The idea of being benched is already enough to set off the f bombs and insecurities, which in and of itself, is so interesting to watch as a viewer, but it’s what we get through Keeley’s means of understanding and seeing people as they are that works so remarkably in this scene. You don’t have to be good with kids to know that not only do they never lie, but they are the ones who almost always see people as they truly are.
And as we’ve said in the past, actual ray of human sunshine Keeley Jones knows how to make people feel safe enough to be vulnerable, which she does so by making sure the person in front her knows she’s an equal of theirs. She does it with Rebecca, she did it with Jamie even, and she does so especially with Roy, placing the pink fluffy pillow on her lap before his to show that they’re in this in together. It’s how excited she gets at the idea of Roy opening up to her that helps ensure he feels comfortable.
Opening up is never easy because so often men aren’t met with statements such as: “I think men who feel sorry for themselves are so sexy.” Lord knows what happens behind closed doors in locker rooms, but judging by how infrequent it (seems) to be, I don’t believe men sit there and share their feelings as we women do.
And thus Keeley’s excitement makes it that much easier for him to know he isn’t going to be judged for anything that he finally voices out loud. We know Keeley isn’t going to see Roy differently when he opens up, but he needs proof of that, and what it turns out to be is, as audience members easily guessed, she appreciates his transparency and thus him, even more. She is going to take what he gives and meet him halfway, which is what she does by bringing in Phoebe in.
What makes this moment worthy of a scene breakdown is that Keeley could say a number of comforting things, but she understands that Phoebe’s words are going to matter more because she doesn’t have to say nice things. Keeley doesn’t either, but this way, breaking into someone’s emotions requires small steps. And in this moment, it’s enough for her to just sit by and have Phoebe talk. And thus for Roy however begrudgingly he takes her words, it’s enough to hear Phoebe say that Roy is her uncle and that he is funny, but most importantly that she loves him.
Roy could shrug off the fact that Phoebe is a six-year-old who knows nothing, but ultimately these are the moments where the healing begins. These the moments where though not instantaneous, he gets glimmers of understanding that Roy Kent does not need to be tied to the football player in order to be somebody special.
More than anything, it’s thoroughly refreshing to actually see a man admit to the fact that he is worried about his greatness as opposed to sugarcoating it and resorting to unkindness because “woe-is-me” his dreams are falling apart. That’s not what this show is about and that’s not what this episode is about. It’s about apologies and it’s about vulnerability. It’s about facing the hard truth even when it’s tough, and admitting that it is because it takes more courage to vocalize frustrations than it does to bottle things up and have them explode.
And as we learn in episode seven, part of what makes Roy’s career as it is has been the fact that he’s used his anger on the field. He has used his pain to fuel the game as opposed to using it in ways that would hurt other people. Thus, when it comes down to hesitations and uncertainties, these small moments of vulnerability are leading towards the kind of growth that I imagine a number of men will find comfort it.
As a woman, it’s admittedly been easy for me to find comfort in female characters whose arcs have been similar to mine, but so often in media, as we keep repeating, men aren’t shown exhibiting this type of vulnerability. And thus, this could work so well in contributing to the type of conversations that’ll allow men to just admit to defeat and accept help. Because needing help and even needing to just talk isn’t a weakness, it’s entirely human and it requires a lot more strength than masking it does.
It’s also so fascinating to note the juxtaposition of this scene in Keeley’s traditionally feminine living room and the very masculine locker room where Roy is given the chance to be vulnerable both times–once again serving as a tremendous fuck you to toxic masculinity and the idea that emotions are solely tied to women when they’re just human. To deny uncertainties and doubts is merely to deny truth and growth. Roy’s feelings about not knowing who he’d be without the thing that defines him is so poignantly human, that no matter who we are, it’s easy to understand it—to look into and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it’s something we’ve all questioned or likely will question at some point in our lives.