Why Ted Lasso Needs To Redeem Nate In Season 3
Ted Lasso has a Nate Shelley problem now, and it needs to be fixed.
Warning! SPOILERS AHEAD for Season 2 of Ted Lasso. Step away and enjoy some lovely biscuits until you’re fully caught up!
You guys? I’ve been thinking a lot about Nate Shelley. I was very late to the Ted Lasso party (Blame the need to subscribe, even briefly, to yet another streaming service, alright?), but finally decided to check out the comedy over New Year’s weekend, and was immediately on board. I binged the full two seasons in two days, after mostly deciding to watch because I kept hearing that a beloved character (yup, that’s Nick Mohammed’s Nate) had done something horrible by the Season 2 ending that led to some questions. Now that I’ve also fallen in love with Nate (and, really, much of the Ted Lasso cast), I can tell you that the show needs to redeem Nate in Season 3, and I have three reasons why it’s necessary. So, let’s get down to business!
I, like so many fans, found what Nate did by revealing Ted’s mid-game panic attack to Trent Crimm shocking. Obviously, Nate really hurt Ted by doing that, but, of course, that was the goal. There’s a saying, though, that “hurt people, hurt people,” and this is definitely the case with Nate. For all of the (daddy) issues that were either revealed or more fully explored in Ted Lasso Season 2 regarding Ted, Rebecca, and Jamie, not only is Nate going through something similar, but his problems seem to have been internalized in the worst way.
As much as that trio has had to work hard to get past how their fathers' death (Ted), abuse (Jamie), or selfishness (Rebecca) impacted them, what we never saw from any of them was the intense self-loathing that Nate has turned his own father’s behavior toward him into. Nate’s dad is mean, dismissive, and has probably gently been tearing him down his whole life. This is a large part of why the former kit man turned assistant manager lacks so much confidence.
While Nate’s mom is loving and on his side (though she’s clearly never told her husband to fuck off and treat their son with some basic human respect), it’s so obvious that what Nate really wants is to finally matter to his dad. Jamie became a bullying asshole because of the treatment he got from his dad, but Nate fully hates himself because of how his dad speaks to him. This is never more obvious than the two times we see Nate spit on his reflection in the mirror. Sure, Nate also began turning that hatred outward in Season 2 (poor Colin and new kit man, Will), but you can bet that the person he hates most in the world is himself. And, if that’s not the very picture of someone who’s hurting deeply, I don’t know what is.
Ted Knows Nate’s Hurting, But Not How Badly
While I didn’t like quite a few of Nate’s actions during Season 2, I can applaud him for telling Ted why he was having problems with him, once Ted finally realized there was an issue and asked him to spill the details in the final episode. So, Ted knows now, after that tearful exchange, that Nate felt abandoned by him and that it hurt him, but he doesn’t know why.
You will, I’m sure, remember the Season 2 episode where Richmond plays Man City at Wembley Stadium and suffers a complete and difficult loss. If this episode only did one thing, it let everyone on the team, and every viewer, know just how badly Jamie has had it when it comes to dealing with his father. While Nate’s dad isn’t as overtly abusive, he’s still a high-level ass, but no one knows it.
One of the reasons Ted gave Jamie another shot was because he saw his dad berate him after a game. I think if Ted knew about Nate’s dad, he’d be able to piece together that by listening to Nate and giving him a boost up to assistant coach, he was giving Nate some of the support he’s needed from his father his whole life, and understand why bringing in Roy led to the younger man feeling tossed aside.
Nate Cannot Be The Only Character Who Doesn’t Get A Second Chance
Last, but not least, Nate simply cannot be the only Ted Lasso character who doesn’t get a second chance. If Ted can forgive Rebecca for actively attempting to use him to ruin the team, Rebecca can forgive Higgins for helping Rupert cheat on her, Roy can forgive Jamie for telling Keeley he's in love with her, and the entire Richmond team can forgive Jamie for being a dick, Nate also has to have another shot. Why? Because a show like Ted Lasso that gives us a heartwarming, slightly better world than our own, simply can’t put forth the idea that the one non-white person who also appears to have serious mental health problems and has screwed up is a lost cause.
Yeah. I said it. Nate needs to be forgiven. Not just because of all the trauma he’s suffered at his father’s hands, but because if Ted Lasso is going to continue to offer itself up as a view of what we can be if we listen to each other, hold people accountable, own up to our mistakes, and ask for forgiveness, the show can’t then condemn Nate.
Trust me, whatever natural propensity to a lack of confidence Nate already had was exacerbated by his dad, and also racism. Even very confident, committed to success non-white people have to walk a very fine line when deciding how forceful and in-your-face they’ll be when doing what they need to get ahead and take up the space they deserve. We, frequently, don’t get second chances (and the same can be true for those with mental health problems, especially if they’re revealed). We don’t get another chance randomly offered through the kindness of someone’s heart, and sometimes not even after apologizing when we know we’ve messed up. If Ted Lasso wants to show us a better world, the characters have to find a way to show forgiveness to the brown guy.
Now, I’m not saying that this should come immediately in Ted Lasso Season 3. Where things stand now, with Big Bad Nate having decamped to coach West Ham United and work with icky Rupert, he’ll have a lot of amends to make. But, I’m eager to see him learn the error of his tattletale ways, begin to understand just how much his dad has fucked him over, and start to take back some of his power by making things right and eventually being a good dude again.
Although, I do hope it will lead to a stronger, more whole Nate than either the one who was so unsure of himself he barely spoke above a whisper, or the one who repeatedly yelled at Will for no good reason. Coach Beard said it, but I know we’re all hoping that Nate can “do better,” and I have no worries when it comes to Ted Lasso’s writers finding a way to get him there.
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