Right after the finale, Ted Lasso’s “Tan Lines” is surprisingly the episode I’ve written the most on, and it’s because it continues to be just that—surprising. It’s the episode that’s full of heightened emotions that make you want to rip your own heart out of your chest, but it’s simultaneously the episode that somehow, even amidst its heavy emotions still makes you believe that everything will be okay.
And that’s largely due to the fact that for instance, the emphasis on belief in most strong in this episode. It’s also the episode where shared drinks between two friends really shows just how important companionship is. And it’s the episode where one word can mean two different things, which emphasizes the importance of the motto: “it’s not what you say but how you say it.”
It’s the episode that gives us one of the most exciting games throughout the season because it’s the one where Ted takes a big risk, and in its aftermath, he’s met with the strongest outcome. The running theme of this episode focuses on the importance of belief, and concurrently, the importance of companionship.
Contrary to Jamie’s belief, it’s not “me,” it’s team. And I almost appreciate the fact that this is the episode where Jamie gets on my nerves most because in the next episode, he’s the character whose actions are most surprising. And it hits as evocatively as it does because in “Tan Lines,” he’s the one I imagine we were all pretty tempted to punch. Although Roy took that plunge for us.
Tan Lines and Teammates
Apple TV titles this episode as “New Underwear,” but according to IMDB, the episode is titled “Tan Lines,” which I prefer largely due to the metaphor it speaks on. What is a tan line? Isn’t it essentially exposure the sun? Well, this episode is an exposure to emotions, and it’s an exposure to solidarity. It’s the exposure to belief and it’s the exposure to the first win.
There is so much to appreciate about this episode and so much of it is due to how much Roy cares about this team, which we see explicitly in his choice to expose them to cheers and screams. Roy doesn’t care as fiercely about scoring the winning goal, he cares about this team coming out on top and that’s essentially what he shows us when he passes the ball to Sam even though he could have done it himself.
After Jamie chooses not to pass the ball, Roy doing so signifies just how much he is willing to do and how far he is willing to go to give them everything that they need in order to result in a collective win. He takes Ted’s belief speech to heart and we see the aftermath of it exquisitely in the game, as we do in that final, relatively awkward but pure conversation with Keeley in an empty parking lot.
The metaphors in this episode need to chill. That’s about it.
Rebecca, the Job Offer, and the Realization
There is so much about Rebecca to appreciate and one of the easiest thing is that this series is making her growth so believable. No, she wasn’t going to have an immediate change of heart after “For the Children.” We’re getting there and it takes time, but it starts with offering Keeley a job, which you know what, women should give each other jobs after nice conversations in the bathroom more often. (Do men actually do this?)
Women being this good each other could actually change the world and I’m ready for it. I’m also ready for the fact that after Rebecca sees Ted and his son on the jumbotron, that’s the moment where she realizes just how much the conversation earlier must’ve meant to him.
Vulnerability and Masculinity
I’ll keep repeating this for as long as this show continues to deliver as excellently, but vulnerability and masculinity can coexist. So often on TV, men are seldom allowed to be both, which ultimately results in the faux message that they are somehow less human if they’re both.
Because that’s just it—vulnerability is human. It isn’t masculine or feminine to cry, it’s just (excuse my French) f—king human. Every single person on this planet, no matter their gender has undoubtedly felt lost and broken at some point. When Ted tells the team that they are broken, it’s the truth. In some way, shape or form, they’re all broken. They’re all hurting. Something gnaws at each of them tirelessly and how they chose to act in spite of that thing is why these stories are worth telling.
And here’s the thing, men have talked to each other in TV shows before, but it’s so rare to see a group of men, all extremely different from one another sit in a locker room office and have a genuine conversation about another man’s divorce.
So often scenes like this have been masked with so much humor, there is barely any room for vulnerability, but on Ted Lasso, there is always room for those sincere moments of growth where men are given the chance to just be human, lost, confused, and even a little broken.
After asking Higgins for marriage advice and he tells us about his cat, he states: “when you’re with the right person, even the hard times are easy.” And that’s the thing with “Tan Lines” as an episode—the ending might hit us all hard with the sadness behind Ted’s divorce, but Higgins’ statement isn’t solely a romantic one. It’s platonic too. The right person can be this group of men who care about each other and are making this ascend into growth that much stronger even amidst losses.
The right person can be a teammate. The right person can be the girl you have a crush on, but have no idea how to talk to her so you do the idiot thing and follow her into the parking lot. (Only Roy Kent could make this less creepy somehow.) The right person can be Shannon, the soccer girl playing with your kid to give you a moment with your spouse. The right person can be the coach you’ve hired as a joke who’s now proving to be your best decision yet.
In “Tan Lines” the right person works in favor of vulnerability because the right people will never judge your moments of darkness, but the right person will understand and make the hard moments easier to bear with. And that’s what this team is. It’s what this show focuses on when it gives us these metaphors to remind us of the detail that even though this is a statement about marriage, it’s also a general statement about life.
Ted Talks and Further Thoughts
- No, I can’t handle the chemistry between Roy and Keeley. How does one handle it?
- The montage after the win is just pure, inexplicable joy and I love everything about it. THE WAY THEY ALL HUG. EXCUSE ME.This show has so many stunning single shots, it’s astounding.
- “Dammit, Paul! Don’t humanize him!” That line had no business being so funny.
- Keeley’s bladder text. Mood.
- The new girl Jamie was with being a fan of Keeley and this show continuing to be so kind with its treatment of women is everything.
- Mumford and Sons’ “Forever” is such a perfect song to conclude the episode with.
We have three scene breakdowns for Ted Lasso’s “Tan Lines” and if you haven’t yet, check them out here: