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Ted Lasso Season 3 Is Redeeming Nate Too Fast

"Ted Lasso" is no stranger to rom-com tropes, or touching redemptions, or making even the most frustrating characters complex and sympathetic. But there is a limit to what these things can do, and "Ted Lasso" Season 3 is pushing that limit by redeeming Nate Shelley (Nick Mohammed) way too quickly. His arc from triumphant underdog to incel villain has been one of the main storylines of the show. And while it's always been inevitable that Nate would return to the side of good, the show is jumping the shark to get there.

In Season 3, Episode 7, "The Strings That Bind Us," things go a little too far. After struggling with his newfound fame and wealth for the first half of the season, Nate starts to realize that being at the top isn't all it's cracked up to be. He feels uncomfortable at work, in his fancy new car, and on a very awkward date with a world-famous model. And then, he sees her — Jade (Edyta Budnik), the girl next door. Or, well, the hostess at his favorite local restaurant. He's known her since Season 2, of course, but he's never really seen her, you know? Maybe in this wild world of national notoriety, real relationships matter more than validation.

That's clearly the message "Ted Lasso" is going for here, but the timeline of Nate's arc just doesn't work. "The Strings That Bind Us" pushes things to a particularly questionable place when Nate asks Jade out on a proper date and is immediately accepted, despite his previous behavior being highly questionable.

Nate needs to repent before he can be redeemed

At his core, Nate isn't a bad guy. He just has a lot of personal baggage that he hasn't done the work to sort through yet. Up until the beginning of "Ted Lasso," his whole life is defined by bullying, insecurity, and a gnawing absence of self-worth. Before Ted (Jason Sudeikis) shows up, even the players of AFC Richmond treat Nate like trash. It's understandable why he's angry at the world, and why he feels justified in acting selfishly.

But the sympathy we have for Nate as viewers only goes so far. At some point, just like in the real world, TV show characters are responsible for their own actions. It's Nate's prerogative to hold a grudge against the likes of Colin and Jaime, but when he starts actively harming people himself, that's on him. Leaking Ted's panic attacks to the media and taking a job with a rival just to spite his former friends is low. There's no way around that. And in Season 3, Nate doubles down on his cruel behavior by bashing Richmond in the press at every opportunity. There's also that time he kisses Keeley nonconsensually, which is just, well, despicable.

Nate's complicated history makes redemption possible, but he still has to earn it. When Jade agrees to go out with him in Season 3, Episode 7, he's done nothing to justify it. We know that he feels guilty and unhappy, but he hasn't actually changed anything in penance for his crimes. Placing him on the happy path this early is just putting the cart before the horse.

Nate's date with Jade is a huge misstep for Ted Lasso

In a show filled with complicated, messy, and fantastic female characters, Jade feels like a woeful misstep. She's introduced in Season 2 as just one more societal obstacle for Nate to get enraged by. She won't give him the window table at A Taste of Athens, and he takes that personally. But she has very little personality beyond her predetermined role in the story.

Then, in Season 3, she's... into him? Because she sees him being awkward on a date with a famous model? And he praises the food at the restaurant? To be fair, Jade is about as rotten to Nate in Season 2 as he is to her later on. But that doesn't explain why she's suddenly excited to pursue a relationship with him. Two people being bad to each other don't make a happy couple, even if the show needs a convenient way for Nate to realize the error of his ways. It would have been nice to get at least a little development here — some apologies, a bit of personality for Jade, or anything really — before jumping to the first date.

"Ted Lasso" has good character writers, and Edyta Budnik is quite good as Jade. Sooner or later, we'll surely get more development, and she could become a great character. But starting her off as half a manic pixie dream girl, waiting around sadly and sweetly for Big Nate to sweep her off her feet, just feels wrong.

Nate's arc can still work, but it needs to be done right

There's absolutely room for Nate to be redeemed by the end of "Ted Lasso" Season 3. Despite everything he's done, he's still a sympathetic character. If Jamie Tartt can go from egotistical bully to team sweetheart, Nate can atone as well. But not like this.

As of now, Nate's relationship with Jade borders on dangerous. It suggests that entitled men with low self-esteem do, in fact, deserve women's attention, even while they continue in their lousy ways. The arc would feel better if he put some work in first — and no, making a box that gets run over by a car doesn't count. Maybe his model date makes a scene at the restaurant and he stays to help clean up. Maybe he bumps into Jade while she's off of work and helps her with a personal matter. The episodes in "Ted Lasso" Season 3 are longer than ever, so there's definitely room for these kinds of moments. And yet, this is the one arc the show insists on rushing.

By the time credits roll on "Ted Lasso" Season 3, we'll probably all feel fine about Nate returning to Richmond's good graces. In the long term, the writers will get us there. But it's a shame that a show so focused on nuance and kindness is pushing a character into redemption before they've actually earned it. "Ted Lasso" has set a high standard for itself in such matters, and Nate's arc is way off the mark.