Welcome back to another Thursday (unofficial) Ted Lasso scene breakdown. As you all know by now, we have no plans to stop writing about this show. And as we mentioned the first time we broke down a scene from “The Hope That Kills You,” every single scene from this episode is worthy of in-depth analysis. Thus today, we are here to talk about the absolute joy we get as viewers when good people get what they deserve. In this case, Nathan Shelley’s big break.
Ted Lasso’s “The Hope That Kills You” opens up with Nate walking into the locker room to find that everything has been tidied up; his job’s done and what the f—! He meets the new Clubhouse Attendant while Ted and Higgins walk in on the phone pretending to be on the phone about what is happening. Rebecca walks in, he curses her out, except she reveals that he has not been fired, he is being promoted. From inside the office, the entire team cheers as the blinds go up and they all run in to congratulate Coach Nate. Are you crying remembering it? Because we sure are.
This is what we meant by Ted Lasso is a show that caters to its characters and it does so beautifully. It is a show that does not unnecessarily drag plot lines on, instead it sees how hard its characters are working and it rewards them for it.
And the lovely thing about Nate’s development is that he was helping Ted and Coach Beard not to gain anything, but for starters because he actually understands and knows the team fairly well, and because he sincerely wanted them to win. He did everything he’s done, including giving Ted pointers not to overstep or not for personal glory, but because he cares. He cares about football. He cares about this team, genuinely and sincerely even when they haven’t all seen him or treated him well.
The promotion coming in during an episode called “The Hope That Kills You” works in such an interesting form because Nate didn’t really have hope for a promotion—he just had hoped to see the team win. He did everything he was told because he’s inherently good, and part of what makes this series so wholesome is those good people get rewarded.
The episode might not have gone as we had all hoped with a win, but it didn’t crush our spirits. If this were any other show, I wouldn’t trust the direction they’d take all this because TV is too bleak right now, but when you start an episode off with one character getting the promotion they deserve and ending with a team’s loss, it still leaves you with the comforting token that everything going to be okay.
So often comedies are seen as easy to do, you expect everything to work out, but the hardest part about writing a comedy that’s simultaneously emotional is achieving the right kind of balance between vulnerability and humor. You don’t want to keep knocking your characters down for comedic relief, but you also don’t want to give them arcs that might feel unrealistic for those watching. Ted Lasso however is not that show. It’s a show that gives and it takes because it’s a show that values its characters to tell the kind of stories that work.
Nathan Shelley has worked harder than any character on the series in trying to help out the team. He might not have gone and asked for a promotion, but coaches like Ted and Beard would have noticed the hard work and they’d want to reward him. It’s perfectly in character for all of them to give Nate this type of recognition because this is a show that emphasizes seeing people even and especially when they don’t see themselves.
It’s a show that emphasizes the power of belief and optimism, which means it’s a show where its characters will go out of their way to help each other and they’ll specifically go big when the person is deserving. And Nate is deserving–he wouldn’t get an average promotion, he’d be given the opportunity to see the entire team celebrating the big break alongside him. He’d get to see someone like Rebecca acknowledge that he is valuable and incredibly important to all of them. He’d get Ted and Coach Beard dramatically bestowing him with the whistle.
It’s a big deal because Nathan Shelley is a big deal and it’s an important moment because, on this show, little things get blown up (pun intended) into worthwhile celebrations as a means of making milestones that much more memorable. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.