The only complaint I have towards this episode is the title. (If you’ve lived in the U.S. then you know just how triggering it is.) Excluding that, “Make Rebecca Great Again” the most perfect piece of television I’ve watched in a long, long time, and at this point, even though I’ve watched it an embarrassing amount, it doesn’t change the fact that it makes me sob every time.
Brace yourselves, folks because the emotions in this one are just all over the place. I can’t help it. “Make Rebecca Great Again” is the episode I had the most visceral reaction to, and it’s the one that I still don’t know how to write about without bursting into tears. This episode is a love letter to every single person who’s lost themselves—whether it’s in a divorce, depression, anxiety, whatever the all-consuming darkness may be, this is the episode that beautifully shows us no one is too far gone.
This is also the episode that made me decide: I have to write about this show when season two comes around because it’s so moving, I’m bursting out of my seat (and it’s basically storming on my face with the number of tears I’ve cried). In every way, the episode is a testament to friendships and the fact that those who care will stay by your side even when you screw up royally.
I’ve already done a tremendous scene breakdown on Rebecca singing “Let it Go” from Frozen, so please read that alongside this solely for the completion of the review. Since it’s already out there and massively analytical, I won’t go into it again. To preview:
“Make Rebecca Great Again” was one of the best episodes of TV we all watched in 2020 and it’s one we’re still not over. And much like with the finale “The Hope That Kills You,” this episode is full of deeply vulnerable moments that change so much of the dynamics beautifully. Watching the entire team let go of all their losses for a moment and embrace their win with karaoke night already made for an exemplary scene, but then you bring in a woman who’s lost so much and herself in the process to sing a song about deliverance, and you’ve created an indescribable moment.Scene Breakdown: Rebecca Sings “Let it Go”
Grown Men Crying
To start, let’s continue to praise this show for doing what it is best at—reminding the audience that toxic masculinity isn’t welcomed here. When the team goes to Liverpool for a game against Everton, prior to there’s a movie night for The Iron Giant. And yes, grown men, the stoic Coach Beard included, all cry during it.
And it’s a sight to behold because emotions are and will always be welcomed here. But we also get crying in a way that stings like a thousand bees all at once and that’s Ted’s panic attack. Throughout the course of the season, we see the tremors threaten to control and we see Ted slowly crumble into the darkness that is terrorizing him from deep within.
Divorce isn’t easy. Whether you’re the one who’s initiated it or not—whether it’s on good terms like Ted and Michelle or as messy as Rebecca and Rupert. And the series’ decision to show us two completely different sides of it is incredibly fascinating because it’s what puts it all on display organically. The aftermath of separation isn’t always pretty and oftentimes, it hurts.
Ted’s heartbreak is the worst of them because as mentioned in “Tan Lines” when the sunshine falls, clouds of darkness are most engulfing for the rest of the world too. But it’s also so realistic that he’d lash out at Nate because his feelings are so achingly enveloping that he has no idea how to deal with it all. Not to mention the fact that even the kindest people break at times. And what matters is that Ted’s self-awareness leads to an apology.
That’s what makes him so incredible as a character because he immediately apologizes to Nate the next morning and encourages him to be the one to give the pre-game talk. A lot can be shaken, but Ted Lasso’s belief doesn’t come and go waves—it’s steadfast. And that belief extends to everyone around him even while he’s fighting the battles within himself.
Jason Sudeikis’ range on this show continues to floor me because one minute he’s cracking a joke, the next he’s subtly falling apart, and then in a single moment, a full range of emotions are on display so acutely, there are no words for it. This is why he is the actor to sweep award seasons because what Sudeikis has done in Ted Lasso is not only his best work to date, but it’s exemplary work I imagine people will want to look back on for years to come.
It’s a masterclass of performances that are so heart crushing, I’ll never forget my own mother’s reaction to watching it after having overcome her own bouts of panic attacks in the past.
Thematically, this episode touches on the concept of letting go in such breathtaking form that it makes you actually feel the idea as though it’s your own experience you’re watching unfold. When Nate is roasting the team, he tells Roy that he’s worried he’s keeping all the anger to himself and that it could destroy him.
It’s accurate to the t because emotions not only demand to be felt, but they demand to be shared. Whether that’s rage or sadness or even love, emotions that are shared are the very thing that help people grow. We start to see just how much Roy’s anger engulfs him a little later, but at the crux of it all is the fact it’s very clear, he hasn’t shared anything with anyone in a long time.
Thus when he breaks the bench, he not only removes some of the rage that’s eating him up inside, but he uses it on the field, which results in their win. And that win also results in the closeness that’s budding with the Keeley along with the decision to be the one to initiate celebrating the game. The bottled up rage in Roy has kept from happiness for quite some time, but in a moment of letting go (while singing too), and without realizing, he started giving parts of himself to others.
Thereby, when he kisses Keeley, it’s the decision to try—the decision to give in to the chemistry that’s brewing within them, and the decision to try actually having a relationship with someone who just might understand him fully. There is a long way to go for Roy to fully let go of the pent-up darkness, but he’s on the right path now.
Ladies Empowering Ladies
This episode is for women and it’s about women. It’s about taking responsibility for our actions and understanding that admitting to faults isn’t a weakness but rather a strength. This was Rebecca’s deliverance. It’s easy to tell that there is so much good in Rebecca because Hannah Waddingham shows us bits and pieces of the character beautifully, but most importantly, because the writing shows us just how much of herself she has lost.
As humans, we’ve all felt small at some point in our lives. Someone has hurt us so horrifically that we’ve lost ourselves in the version they’ve crafted. Or, we’ve made unfathomable decisions trying to take back the pieces of us that have been broken. “Make Rebecca Great Again” evocatively establishes the idea that it’s never too late to make amends, and it’s never too late to find the pieces of us that are buried (or in Ted’s way bathed) deep within the piles of darkness that have taken root.
When the dirt is taken care of, the flowers can start to bloom, and “Make Rebecca Great Again” reminds us of the fact that no form of dirt cannot be harvested. In adversary, the strongest take root, and Rebecca Welton might have screwed up drastically, but somewhere deep under the tower she’s climbed, is a woman who’s silly and strong, but not cold. Deep underneath is a woman who can sing, and a woman whose loyalty is unparalleled.
If she wasn’t so good prior to all this, someone as loyal as Sassy (Ellie Taylor) wouldn’t choose her to be her daughter’s godmother, and she wouldn’t come back to be by her side after six years of abandonment. Rebecca is worth saving, and Rebecca is worth fighting for. And that’s something Keeley sees in too as she continues to shower her with praises, joy, and laughter because so much of Rebecca shines even amidst the terrors.
Ted is easily forgiven by Nate because Ted isn’t his rage. Roy isn’t his rage either. We aren’t the mistakes we’ve made or the darkest parts of who we are, we are the people we choose to be. And in this episode, Rebecca chooses to be kind. She chooses to help someone else come out of the water. She chooses to be the strength she hadn’t seen in her darkness. She chooses to let go and she chooses to fight.
“Make Rebecca Great Again” shows us that it’s never too late to keep trying. If someone makes you feel small, that’s not on them, it’s on you. It’s on you to rise above their words and their abuse. It’s on you to keep trying. And it’s never easy in the beginning, sometimes humans can go down the wrong path, but sometimes, when we have the right people beside us, they can help pull us out. We just have to be willing to accept their help in the first place.
Sometimes abuse festers differently, you either push forward, let the darkness consume you like Rebecca did or you harbor the emotions like Ted did. And the healthy way is to find people who are willing to carry those burdens with you. If you don’t have those people, maybe you can be that person for others. Because when you choose to be the person they can lean on, one day, you’ll turn around to find they are right by your side too.
Kindness is contagious and it’s the very kindness Rebecca is now seeing from those around her that have brought greatness back into her life. Rebecca lost herself in a pit for a moment, but she didn’t stay there—she chose to come out. She chose to remember the people and the places that meant more to her than who she became as a result of the chains that suffocated her.
Accountability matters. Kindness matters. Embracing the good, the bad, and the ugly matters. And sharing our pain matters. Ted Lasso’s “Make Rebecca Great Again” makes it clear that there’s no darkness these characters can’t come out of and it’s beautiful in more ways than I have words for.
Ted Talks and Further Thoughts
- What’ll always destroy me about this episode is that if Ted wasn’t having a panic attack while Rebecca was singing, he would’ve loved the moment so deeply, it would’ve been everything. (It’s what he deserves and it’s what she deserves and I don’t know how to write about this episode without sobbing because why!?)
- Keeley’s ad is actually a damn delight, as was Roy initiating that she repeats it in the locker room.
- I love that they noticed Nate was missing. I also love that he understands the importance of organizing luggage and not throwing it.
- The toy soldier on Ted’s desk as he signed the papers destroyed me, especially because he picks up, stands it tall, then signs it and that shot floored me. (I’m not crying again. You’re crying.)
- Flo and Ted? Okay okay okay okay. Get it.
- There is nothing more pure than Sam Obisanya singing Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” What a perfect song for a perfect character.
- And then there’s Beard singing Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” Genius.
- The shot of Rebecca sitting at the restaurant waiting for the waiter through the mirror paralleling the shot of Ted signing the divorce papers as we see him through the mirror in front of him? BRILLIANT. You’re telling me these two aren’t meant to be? And they’re not each other’s kindred spirits? You can’t help but ship it when there are moments like this framed so masterfully to tell an even more significant story. I am relatively uneasy thinking about it. Celeste’s “Strange” is also such a perfect song to emphasize the emotions each of the characters are feeling (Roy and Keeley included). Strangers to friends. Friends into lovers. And strangers again. Goodbye. I am uneasy.
- HUGS MATTER. HUGS HELP. HUGS MAKE ME CRY.
- Dani Rojas continues to be sunshine personified is so beautiful.
- “You would love the real Rebecca.” We do. We already do. (Insert sobbing emoji here.)
- There are still fax machines around. I don’t know what’s up with this, London. It’s not that ancient. I get we all communicate through emails, but they’re still there.
What are your thoughts on Ted Lasso’s “Make Rebecca Great Again?”