I Hate the Abusive Arc of Keeley’s Same-Sex Relationship on ‘Ted Lasso’

In a frustrating development, Jack (Keeley's venture capitalist funder and now-ex-girlfriend) retaliates against her by pulling money from her firm.

I Hate the Abusive Arc of Keeley’s Same-Sex Relationship on ‘Ted Lasso’
Photo:Apple TV+

If Ted Lasso’s first two seasons were nauseatingly heterosexual, Season 3 has thus far compensated with refreshing insights into the inner lives of queer characters like Colin Hughes and Trent Crimm—and, of course, the added spice of Keeley Jones’ relationship with Jack Danvers, the female venture capitalist funding her PR firm.

But where Keeley’s relationship with Jack started on an exciting foot, offering a fresh breath of representation for queer women to a show about burly male footballers, their storyline has gone to utter shit in the last two weeks, capped off with a final middle finger to Keeley in episode that came out Wednesday. The two unceremoniously parted ways after a private sexual video of Keeley leaked—and then, without warning her, Jack withdraws funding from Keeley’s PR firm.

The toxic nature of their relationship shouldn’t come as a particular shock, considering how messy things can get when you mix sex and business. Still, that this is the note Keeley and Jack’s relationship has ended on is a wildly frustrating conclusion for the show’s only same-sex couple involving women.

But it’s fittingly disappointing for a relationship arc that’s been going off-course for some time. At first, I had some hope for Keeley and Jack after they were able to have an honest and productive conversation about whether the exorbitantly wealthy and doting venture capitalist was love-bombing Keeley. But everything came crashing down with the leaking of Keeley’s sex tape, prompting Jack to legally advise that Keeley publicly apologize (despite Keeley being the victim of a sex crime), and then subtly begin to pull the rug out from her.

The course of Keeley and Jack’s relationship has, if anything, built upon the show’s blindspot when it comes to gender dynamics, whether that’s Ted constantly being framed as the victim for his wife’s choice to divorce him, or, more recently, Nate being awarded with a romantic relationship for unsubtly stalking a woman.

Keeley has also consistently been the victim of unfair narrative choices this season. For example, when she seeks solace from her best friend, Rebecca, as Jack pressures her to apologize for the sex tape, Rebecca—in an out-of-character move—defends Jack and asks Keeley to try to understand her. It’s a fairly staggering betrayal that the show seems to think we should all shrug off. And when Keeley’s comforted about the sex tape by Jamie, the ex whom she sent the video to, the tone of their conversation suggests we’re supposed to find it romantic that her ex-partner would keep sexual content of her even after the end of their relationship. That, at the very least, is debatable.

The suffering inflicted on Keeley appears to stem from the show not knowing what else to do with her character—so, for lack of better ideas and given Keeley’s gender, she’s subjected to sexual punishment. The cherry on top of all of this is Jack slut-shaming her, then weaponizing their professional partnership. It’s an emotional bloodbath aimed at a queer, female character—and it really raises the question of whether no representation at all is better than cruel representation.

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