'Ted Lasso' Has a Nate Problem

West Ham manager Nathan Shelley drinking alone.
West Ham manager Nathan Shelley drinking alone. /

There are five episodes remaining of Ted Lasso's final season after this week's very funny introduction to Total Football. Overall, the last two episodes have been very good, recovering from what I felt was a very uneven start to Season 3. Despite the houseboat being steadied, I still have one major concern about the show right now.

We need to talk about Nathan Shelley.

What the actual f-ck? Are we supposed to care about him getting a first date with a woman he's basically stalked for the last three seasons? He's constantly showing up at her place of work for no reason despite the fact that she showed no interest in his existence for quite some time. He wants to know whether a girl likes you or is just being nice to you, but never asked does a girl not like you or is she just ignoring you because she has no interest?

Rewatching the first two seasons of Ted Lasso before season three started, the first season was slightly ruined because I knew what Nate was going to become in season two. His rise, empowerment and eventual promotion reveal was one of the emotional highlights of the first season. Going back to watch again, I just know this guy is going to turn into a total dick in a few episodes.

And watching it happen again in season two, it's so ugly. Watching the first time through, it was weird to see him suddenly - and not subtly - become an asshole was not enjoyable. What made even less sense was the way he turned on Ted, who credited, mentored and treated him like a person from the very moment he met him.

Look, no one could blame the Nate character for taking the West Ham job, as improbable as it is even in a show about a college football coach becoming a Premier League manager. But turning on Ted, the one person who believed in him, because of some perceived slights is insane. Which I guess we're supposed to buy because he suddenly started spitting in season two because he loathed himself so much. Which, well, I'm right there with him on that one.

I know this is just a TV show and that's how they wrote it, but what exactly would angry little Nate have done if Rupert hadn't decided to hire the ex-kitman to make his ex-wife angry? Which, by the way, does Rebecca give a shit about Nate? Has she at one point expressed annoyance that West Ham poached one of the assistant coaches? But hey, they're winning so I guess that's all that matters.

Season three has been more of the same with Nate continuing to be a complete asshole, but this time it's mixed with being more pathetic. And now we're supposed to smile as he gets his groove back and learns to talk to girls?

I still hate him. The character, of course. Nick Mohammed has played this now very unlikable character to perfection. But Nate? Nate sucks. He hasn't been redeemed just because he briefly wanted to say hi while trapped in an elevator. There is no reason to root for him. No explanation why he broke so bad. Ted is just supposed to forgive him because that's what's healthy for his own mental health and everyone is just supposed to ignore the fact that he was mean to the people who supported him and then kissed Keeley just because she was nice to him for one episode?

Maybe they'll figure out a way to fix this. They do have five episodes remaining which in season three means they have about 9 hours of storytelling left. Yeah. I said it. This was a half-hour comedy when it came out. Now it's as long as the final season of Game of Thrones. Kurt Sutter called. He wants his episode lengths back. But anyway...

Ted Lasso is a show about redemption. Characters like Rebecca, Jamie, Higgins and Trent Crimm were presented as obstacles for the protagonist to varying degrees. They've all become three-dimensional characters that we enjoy and root for. Most dramatically Jamie, who was first presented as a childish, selfish, idiot footballer and has become a mature person, good friend and incredibly selfless teammate and leader.

Nate has had no such transition. We left an incredibly emotional, uplifting and heartbreaking season one where he experienced his own incredible transformation and came back to him just straight up being a monster in season two. He's done nothing to deserve the redemption or reconciliation I'm afraid is coming. Just look at this image from the trailer.

Ted, at a West Ham match, with his son in a West Ham jersey. Waving to Nate... because forgiveness? Screw. That. He doesn't deserve this moment. He hasn't earned it. It's like the opposite of Trent Crimm's column on Ted in season one: I can't root for him. And I don't particularly feel like seeing any of the other characters Nate betrayed do it either.