Ted Lasso Drops Its Lesbian Relationship Storyline Like a Hot Potato

Last week’s Ted Lasso episode, “We’ll Never Have Paris,” should’ve been titled “We’ll Never Have a Lesbian Relationship On This Show That Lasts More Than Four Episodes.” Across a meandering hour of television, we got a whole thing with Ted hanging out with his son and singing “Hey Jude” at a picnic table and also Ted being paranoid that his ex-wife’s boyfriend might propose to her in Paris and also Nate dating that girl from the restaurant. Surprisingly enough, I don’t really care about any of those things. What we’re here to discuss today is the arc that was mostly about Keeley but somehow also ended up being about the entire football team: a massive leak of sexual photos and videos featuring noted actors and athletes and politicians, amongst them (1) video starring our very own bisexual PR queen Keeley Jones. 

The leaked masturbation video, which Keeley had sent to an ex-boyfriend famous enough to have his phone hacked, is eventually what leads to her breakup with rich hottie Jack (Jodi Balfour), noted desecrator of first-edition Jane Austen novels.

Their storyline opens in a place of hope: Keeley and Jack in bed after having sex, flushed and overjoyed. But the leak immediately thrusts the pair off-track. Despite Keeley’s pitch-perfect deconstruction of Julia Roberts’ Pretty Woman Kentucky Derby outfit, Jack un-invites Keeley from a pre-planned family outing to the polo match and instead takes Keeley mini-golfing, where she introduces Keeley as her “friend” to a friend from uni. (Jack’s intent in that specific moment is unclear: is she referring to Keeley as a friend because of internalized or external homophobia, or because she’s ashamed to call Keeley her girlfriend after the leak?)

Keeley and Jack at the mini-golfing place

While Keeley is upset by the leak and needs emotional support from Jack, she’s firmly aware that she did nothing wrong by creating the video for her ex in the first place. Jack, however, is not quite so sex-positive, and she ends up insisting that Keeley “fix” the problem by delivering an apologetic statement crafted by Jack’s team. “I’m sorry, but it’s not a great look when the person I’m seeing whose company I fund has a porno online,” Jack insists.

Keeley notes that the video leak wasn’t her fault and therefore she has nothing to apologize for. Jack says it is Keeley’s fault for making the video in the first place and says it’s nothing to be proud of. Keeley says she doesn’t regret making the video or sending it. Jack asks if there are “more out there.” Has Jack seriously never sent or received a nude? Who is this person?

Regardless, after five lines of contentious dialogue, Jack exits Keeley’s apartment and the entire relationship. I truly cannot imagine any world in which this argument wouldn’t at least have the chance to play itself out before one party exits the relationship — while I’m willing to buy Jack’s sudden slut-shaming prudishness revealing itself under these circumstances, Jack’s apparent disinterest in even listening to or trying to understand Keeley’s (correct) point of view is downright bizarre.

“The connection they had was very real; I think they were falling in love, big-time,” Balfour told Vulture in an interview last week about the breakup. “And I imagine that Jack will continue to walk through her life with a lot of regret, and will hopefully begin to unpack what was going on for her in that moment, that she couldn’t see past this very patriarchal, shaming point of view to be the support to this woman she was falling in love with.”

I hope Jack is not the only person on the Ted Lasso set who will walk through their lives with similar regret for ripping this fresh ‘ship out of our cold queer hands.

Something felt uncomfortably familiar about this dynamic playing itself out in an episode where Roy (almost) and Jamie (fully) checked in with Keeley to offer support after learning of the leak. Jamie — the video’s original recipient — was specifically a real sweetheart about it. I don’t think “ex-boyfriend is the source of comfort in an episode where the current girlfriend is the bad guy” is an official TV Trope, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this film before and I didn’t like the ending. (There are certainly traces of it in early iterations of the Bisexual Love Triangle.) This felt like a 2006 lesbian storyline, not a 2023 lesbian storyline.

Most of all, I think Jodi Balfour and Juno Temple were really hot together and we deserved more of that, you know? Like, as a community!

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Riese

Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3201 articles for us.

16 Comments

  1. What a disappointing episode, in a disappointing season. I was just starting to like Jack and Keeley together. Even though Jack had no actual personality beyond being and hot. And the conflict of interest and imbalance of power bugged me – like why couldn’t Keeley date a women who wasn’t technically her boss? But my point is, I was starting to not mind them together and this is a disappointing way to break them up.

    I hope that Keeley doesn’t get back together with Roy. I truly hope that Keeley ends the season triumphantly single. Or with Rebecca.

  2. Great analysis. I like both actors a lot but never fully rooted for Keeley and Jack as characters together. I thought the whole love bombing thing wasn’t handled well. Real love bombing seems like an actually serious problem where the love bomber usually isolates the other person from their community as a means to control them, from what I’ve heard. The fact that Keeley laughed about it with Rebecca and then got Jack to stop simply by asking her to slow down did not sit well with me.

    I wish we could have had a healthier queer storyline…maybe we’ll get it with Colin and his guy? In the meantime, I think rooting for Keeley and Jamie now!

  3. can’t even articulate how mad I am at how badly Ted Lasso fucked up this storyline lol

    why on earth did they write the first w/w relationship this way, in that the interloper girlfriend is a Baddie? it’s so fucking lazy and stupid! obviously Keeley is going to get back together with Roy, but they could have had her break up with Jack for any number of reasons. people break up all the time! things don’t work out! why did it have to be this disrespectful and dumb? there aren’t yet enough queer women on mainstream shows to introduce one only to write her off as a one-dimensional villain.

    like if this is representation, I do not want it! thanks but no thanks!

    relatedly, Ted’s storyline about his ex-wife going out with their old couple’s therapist is ridiculous! we already know we’re supposed to Root For Ted, he doesn’t need to be further victimised. we didn’t need for Michelle to be villanized. this show is so awful to its female characters.

  4. Sex positive? Who wants to date an employee with a porno out also while she’s not my type I’m sure seeing her flick the bean is hot c’mon that’s embarrassing to have it leaked

    BUT SHE SHOULDNT BE FUCKING AN EMPLOYEE IN THE FIRST PLACE

    EXACTLY

  5. i knew this storyline was going to be trash, and i have a small amount of satisfaction in being right. it’s clear the writers have been fumbling the whole season, and instead of allowing keeley to be single and a whole person, they shoved her in a w/w relationship to what? tick a box? why? this pairing should have been a one night stand.

  6. I actually don’t really mind Jack and Keeley’s breakup…what I do mind is the fact it means Jack is no longer on the show. Was Jack just kind of lack luster weird mix of Megan Ellison (who between this and the cameo impression in Dead Ringers has been getting around) and Sophie Watts? yes but the actor that plays her is great and I feel like the friendship could have been something and the addition of an out gay woman to the shows cast would have been nice – instead of just being a love interest that fades into the vortex of Lost Lesbians and OG L-word’s Tina and Bette’s baby for like 3 seasons

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