One of the best parts of the first two seasons of Ted Lasso was watching the growth of Juno Temple‘s Keeley Jones. The series is male dominated, with much of its focus on Lasso and the men’s British football team of AFC Richmond. A few women have managed to step out of their shadow. One is Hannah Waddingham as Rebecca Welton, the strong yet vulnerable owner of AFC Richmond. The other is Keeley, who, back in Season 1, was a model stuck in a bad relationship with the self-absorbed Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster).
As a model dating a high profile football player, Keeley could have fallen into stereotypes, but instead she grew past preconceived boundaries, leaving Jamie behind for a man who truly loved her in Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein). Even though they come from such different backgrounds, she found a best friend in Rebecca. She even started her own sports PR firm, KJPR. With her outspokenness, Keeley is one of the best written character of Ted Lasso. Season 3, however, has seen Keeley go through so much, only for her to end up right back where she was as the same person.
Keeley Jones and Roy Kent Break up to the Dismay of ‘Ted Lasso’ Fans
Perhaps the most interesting part of the first two seasons of Ted Lasso has nothing to do with the titular character, but the growth of two supporting characters in Roy Kent and Keeley Jones. Roy is Oscar the Grouch in human form. He’s a walking scowl who never smiles, yet fans love him because when the layers are pulled back, there is so much more to Roy Kent than what meets the eye. Much of his gruffness comes from his diminished role as a football player. He was once the star, the man who got all the attention, but now he’s older, and it’s others, like the cocky Jamie Tartt, who get all the attention. It makes Roy an intolerable jerk at times, but we put up with it because, well, someone like Jamie — Season 1 Jamie, that is, — is worse, and we also get to see Roy’s adorable relationship with his young niece, Phoebe (Elodie Blomfield), whom he loves like she was his own, even if he is a grump about it.
Then there’s Keeley. As a former model, she could have been a thinly written, vapid character, especially as she hitches herself to Tartt, a man so self-absorbed that he treats Keeley as secondary. As their relationship worsens though, we see how much pain she’s in and how much more she wants. Her connection to Roy is immediate. She calms him, and he makes her feel wanted and needed. They had to end up together.
It gave them the perfect opportunity for growth. Roy, though still a grump, reels his anger in for the most part, even becoming tolerant of his bitter enemy in Jamie. Keeley is now so confident that she begins her own business, a PR firm named after herself called KJPR. But because a series needs drama, Roy and Keeley can’t live happily ever after so easily. Roy breaks up with her, as he’s not ready to give of himself. He’d rather lose himself in coaching than be so vulnerable. Many fans were livid, as it came out of nowhere, right as the couple was growing and committing themselves to work through the hard parts. It’s still a story that could’ve worked, if it had really changed Keeley in some way and caused her to grow. Instead, Season 3 of Ted Lasso has focused almost solely on how Roy grows as a person after the breakup.
Keeley Finds Love With Someone New in ‘Ted Lasso’ Season 3
Ted Lasso fans were equally frustrated at how quickly Keeley moved on from Roy. Though Roy broke up with her, and she has every right to date someone else, it felt rushed due to how the episodes have been laid out and jumped in time. Roy’s miserable, throwing himself into his work, now as an assistant coach, but while we see Keeley sad at times, she mostly seems perfectly fine, excelling at her new career, making new friends, and continuing to laugh it up with her BFF, Rebecca.
As much as Keeley and Roy’s breakup came out of nowhere, so did Keeley’s relationship with Jack (Jodi Balfour). One minute Keeley’s new boss is becoming a close friend who could potentially threaten Rebecca’s status, the next finds them making out, and just like that, they’re a couple. There are some ideas that could be explored there, such as the reaction of others, but no one really cares about Keeley’s bisexual status (as they shouldn’t) and there’s not much in the way of office chaos when Jack announces that she is dating her own employee. We see Roy a little down and talking about his feelings over Keeley moving on, but again, it’s Roy we’re watching grow.
There’s more potential for drama for Keeley when a nude video of her is leaked. She’s devastated, but not ashamed. Jack is ashamed though. Suddenly, this woman who is so secure to be dating another woman who is an underling is embarrassed about a nude video that isn’t Keeley’s fault. Her asking Keeley to apologize for ever filming it feels out of left field. What’s not out of left field is Keeley refusing to do so. We know she will do no such thing, nor should she. But that’s not growth. It’s who Keeley is and always has been. She is secure and strong in her individuality and refuses to conform or apologize for it. It’s a powerful moment for Keeley, but one that’s barely explored.
Everything in Keeley’s Life Is Back to How It Was Last Season
A few episodes ago in Ted Lasso, Keeley is on the brink. Her relationship with Roy is over. Her new relationship with Jack is over. Worse, Jack refuses to speak to Keeley, and in a cowardly move, pulls her funding from KJPR, meaning that Keeley’s new business will have to shut down. Keeley is so crushed that she shuts Rebecca out. This could have been an interesting arc for Keeley. How does such a strong character react when everything is taken from her?
Instead, everything is quickly given back to Keeley. Jack is never seen again. Roy grows up and writes Keeley a note, apologizing for what he did and praising Keeley for who she is. He reads it to her, and she is swept off her feet. When Rebecca shows up at Keeley’s door, worried about her friend’s silence, Keeley quickly apologizes and Rebecca accepts it with no problem. When Keeley tells her about Jack removing her funding for KJPR, it’s followed by a moment we can see coming. Rebecca steps up to fund it herself. The business is saved.
None of this is bad per se. Ted Lasso thrives on its feel-good moments and Keeley deserves all of them. But Ted Lasso is also so much about growth through loss. Ted is struggling as his ex-wife (Andrea Anders) has moved on, dating their own therapist, as well as watching his son (Gus Turner) grow up without him on another continent. Rebecca has to deal with the pain of her ex-husband Rupert (Anthony Head) and his behavior, as well as her loneliness, and the heartbreaking news that she’s now too old to have children. Roy is forced to grow over and over through the loss of Keeley and the bromance that is forming with Jamie of all people. They all have to lose something to evolve.
Keeley loses nothing. She does temporarily, as a plot device, but episodes later, everything in her life is back to the way it was. She’s back with Roy sleeping in her bed as if Jack and the pain she caused never happened. Her relationship with Rebecca is stronger than ever. Her business is saved. Keeley has gone in a circle. Not only has Keeley not been forced to change in some way, but her circular plot lines have also served others more than her. Their breakup is about Roy, not Keeley. Her nude video is about Jack and Roy and the team, not her. Her business loss is about Jack, not her. With everyone else’s arcs in her life satisfied, Keeley can go back to exactly who she was.
Keeley Jones is the strongest character in Ted Lasso. She is the embodiment of female empowerment. Perhaps she doesn’t need to do much personal growth. It’s the people around her who need to grow up. Still, her character deserves more than to be the driving force for everyone else.