Ted Lasso’s Jane Austen Catastrophe Unites Queers in Outrage!

Last time we talked about Ted Lasso, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the bees were buzzing, and Keeley was putting the moves on her boss, Jack (a lady). It’s important that I’m saying “A Lady” here for reasons that will become apparent in just a moment, but for now, let us revel in the fact that Keeley and Jack are full-on dating, and their kiss wasn’t just a one-off queer smooch intended as a tiny little bump on Keeley’s journey back to Roy Kent.

Keeley is handing dating Jack the ways she handles dating in general, with a wide open heart and adorable flirting. Jack is handling dating Keeley in a way that only very rich people handle dating, something Rebecca notices because her ex-husband, Rupert, wooed her the same way. Jack, Rebecca says, is displaying classic symptoms of love bombing. Expensive gifts, expensive dinners, expensive jet rides, generally acting like you exist inside an episode of Succession, which should be a red flag enough because the entire point of Succession is beautiful, rich people being miserable in fancy clothes at glamorous locations. Rebecca doesn’t want Keeley to be miserable in the Alps! Or in Paris! Or even en route to one of those places in a PJ (private jet)! And so, when Keeley tells Rebecca that Jack gave her a first edition signed copy of Sense and Sensibility, a signature above which Jack has scrawled, in permanent marker, “Keeley, you go girl,” Rebecca tells her best friend to just be careful.

Keeley looks at the book Jack gave her and gasps

A purported first edition of Sense and Sensibility signed by Jane Austen. 'Keeley, you go girl' is scrawled inside it.

When this episode of Ted Lasso, “The Strings That Bind Us,” landed, I felt such a strong disturbance in the Queer Force that I started to shiver without knowing why. We, as a people, hardly agree on TV anymore. Even we, as an Autostraddle TV Team, have vastly different opinions these days. Thanks to the fact that there’s just so much out there to watch! We can all satiate our taste buds in different ways! But I honestly can’t even remember the last time our TV Team, and queer fandom in general, were taking up pitchforks and lighting lanterns with the power of only rage, and marching into the woods singing “Kill the Beast!”

Because, you guys, Jack DEFILED A FIRST EDITION OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY WITH A SHARPIE. It’s making me nauseous just thinking about it.

But, friends, I have the most excellent news for you that I hope will help all of us heal from this trauma. Here’s the facts: there is literally NO WAY that this could have happened for real. There is no way Jack could have given Keeley this gift. For starters, Sense and Sensibility was never published with Jane Austen’s name in her lifetime. 750 copies were published by “A Lady” in 1811. That was the first edition, and the book was split up into three smaller volumes, not published as one large novel like what Jack gave Keeley. Jane Austen’s name only appeared on Sense and Sensibility after she died, just like it was only published as a single volume after she died. Also Jane Austen didn’t hold any book signings anyway, or go around giving out her autograph as Jane Austen to basically anyone. Because she wasn’t JANE AUSTEN and could never have predicted a world where she would become JANE AUSTEN. According to Christie’s only a small handful of Jane Austen signatures are still in tact, and most of them are little scraps of paper, or a page from a letter, that are just signed “Jane.” Even if this signed first edition did exist — which it absolutely does not — there’s no way Jack would have had time to track it down and purchase it. These things take ages. People aren’t just out here selling Jane Austen first editions on Ebay.

Jack and Keeley kiss

Let us continue to think Jack is a monster for pulling this stunt, that’s fine of course, but let us also rest our hearts inside the fact of its impossibility. Let us rest knowing that no real life Jacks are out here pulling this shit with priceless Austen manuscripts. And bless us for this worry. As our lesbian forebear Elinor Dashwood once said, “It is not everyone who has our passion for dead leaves.”

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1719 articles for us.

15 Comments

  1. What a tremendous use of that Beauty and the Beast reference! My first thought in that scene was “Wow, Jack is pretty gullible if she actually thinks that’s Jane Austen’s real signature.” But I’m glad they are making Jack and Keely a real couple and not just a “tiny little bump.”

  2. I’ve thought way too much about this.

    Because the image says Vol. 1 and is by “a lady” this theoretically could be a first edition BUT it’s far more likely it’s a second edition. I think the first editions are like in archives? The seconds can be bought for $20k.

    But OF COURSE that’s not Jane Austen’s real signature. So does that mean Jack is very gullible and then thinking it was her real signature still wrote above it? Or did she lie? Which is worse?

    Either way writing in a first OR second edition Jane Austen book is appalling to me personally. But Jack also referenced Jeffrey Epstein when describing her level of wealth so I do think it’s good to remember that rich people suck even when they’re lesbians. (AKA The Ellen Degeneres Principle.)

    And I’m not even that obsessed with Jane Austen! More of an Eliot/Shelley/Brontës girl when it comes to 19th century literature.

  3. I hate everything about the discourse this storyline has created. I hate the writers for making the first w/w couple potentially ‘toxic’ and ‘abusive’ (because those are exactly the words the dorks on the Ted Lasso sub reddit are saying. yes, I know I shouldn’t expect anything good from reddit.)

    I liked Jack and I still kind of do? she’s funny and hot and she makes Keeley happy! I feel like Rebecca just projects her own shit with Rupert onto everyone else and Keeley did gently point this out to her. as this entire article has pointed out, the book was a stupid prop error, and not at all meant to be taken seriously, but it’s got everyone in an absolute tizzy.

    why did they have to make Jack reference Epstein’s people? like…where is this going? I assumed it was just a joke about being rich enough to stay out of prison like them, not that she’s associated with them. it’s still weird and I hate that the writers thought it would be a cool joke. it’s painting her in a malevolent light.

    why can’t Keeley just have a nice relationship with a woman that isn’t just a stepping stone to getting back with Roy? I hate that this is giving the homophobes and misogynists fuel to hate on Jack (they do not at all care about the book, or the love bombing, they just want Keeley back with Roy because they don’t give a shit about her outside of that relationship.)

    also, do we know how Jack is so wealthy? because Rebecca is also super rich, and she is a beloved character. why is there a double standard? Jack mentioned going to a fancy boarding school, which, we can definitely assume Rebecca also did. if we really get into wealth and class privilege in this show, we’re going down a weird path. it’s meant to be a light hearted comedy and it’s really gone off the rails imo

    • My interpretation of the Epstein comment was that she was responsible for getting several people connected to him murdered! They were talking about how she had “get away with murder” amounts of money right before that. The line was really awkward, though, and didn’t really land. I had to sit and think about it for a while, and only decided to see on the side of it having that meaning because it reeeeeally just doesn’t seem like the kind of show that would make light of her having anything in common with Epstein

      • Yeah I agree, hopefully that’s what they were going for. but yikes, Jason. cut this shit out right now! and also stop taking out your Olivia Wilde rage on your fictional wife!

  4. As someone currently in an Archives Management grad program, I definitely had to pause and cringe at the sharpie. But honestly worse to me than the sharpie is the way everyone in the episode is handling that book. You’re not supposed to let an old manuscript open to more than a 90° angle, especially when the binding is as clearly fragile as they made this one look, and *always* support it when you’re handling it outside of a cradle (which you shouldn’t really do that much either). Anywayyy, speaking of being book nerds…😆

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