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Ted Lasso's Keeley Jones Has Main Character Energy

The influencer-turned-CEO channels the show's spirit of optimism into an arc worthy of top billing.
  • Juno Temple as Keeley Jones in Ted Lasso (Photo: Apple TV+)
    Juno Temple as Keeley Jones in Ted Lasso (Photo: Apple TV+)

    [Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for the first four episodes of Ted Lasso Season 3.]

    Things aren’t exactly going Keeley Jones’ (Juno Temple) way by the end of Ted Lasso Season 3, Episode 4, “Big Week.” Running her own PR firm isn’t exactly what she expected, her friends’ reliability is waning, and, hold on now, are those feelings for Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) resurfacing? Even when she’s not front and center in an episode, Keeley is more often than not juggling more interesting conflicts with higher stakes than anyone else. So far, her arc over the course of three seasons makes her more suited to be the main character of Ted Lasso than anyone else, the series’ namesake included.

    When we first meet Keeley Jones back in the Ted Lasso pilot, she’s introduced as Jamie Tartt’s girlfriend, someone who is self-possessed, ambitious, and caring — from the start, the series avoids pigeonholing her as just arm candy or a pawn in a love triangle. Yes, she’s a model and influencer, but she’s strategic about her jobs and always angles for more responsibility. She does in fact end up dating both Jamie and Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), but things don’t get particularly messy, and she’s given full agency in both relationships. In many ways she and Ted are birds of a feather. Both are overly optimistic and trusting, with a general worldview that people are inherently good.

    By Season 3, Keeley’s new role mirrors that of Ted’s in Season 1. Suddenly she’s the CEO of her own PR firm, trying to maintain her bubbly disposition while staying in business, much to the confusion of her employees. Keeley does her best to instill a bit of fun into the stodgy office culture while also doing her best to hide her ignorance. She thinks “CFO” stands for “corporate flying object,” which is an especially important detail for her to keep from her actual CFO Barbara (Katy Wix), the person who seems the most immune to Keeley’s charms.

    But unlike Ted, who remains consistently bad at his job, she rises to the challenge to understand more and get better by dealing with her conflicts with more than an inspirational speech. She didn’t end up in this position of power on a whim, she worked on building her confidence and, yes, believing in herself enough to see that she doesn’t have to stay in a situation that wasn’t working for her. She experienced how difficult and painful it can be to face these things head-on when she abandoned her career as an influencer in Season 1 and ended her relationship with Roy in Season 2. Now, in Season 3, she’s learning that it takes more than a positive attitude alone to run a company.

    The majority of “Big Week” follows the first face-off between Nate (Nick Mohammed) and Ted since the latter angrily left AFC Richmond to join Rupert (Anthony Head) at West Ham United F.C. Elsewhere, Roy and Jamie are bonding and Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) is trying her best to not let Rupert get to her. Keeley orbits each of these scenarios, because not one of them would be playing out if not for her. It was Keeley who helped Nate find his mojo, accidentally turning him into a villain. Without Keeley’s constant encouragement for Roy and Jamie to get along (not to mention, her dumping Roy and leaving him with lots of free time), the pair may never have gotten together for training sessions. And Keeley is a constant sounding board for all of Rebecca’s anxieties regarding Rupert.

    In between, Keeley is dealing with potentially life-altering conflicts of her own. She unwittingly embarrassed herself in the bathroom in front of her new boss Jack (Jodi Balfour), immediately upending her plan to project herself as a mysterious and powerful CEO. At the episode’s end, her friend Shandy (Ambreen Razia), who she brought into the company because she really believed in her, screws up big time with a major client, a move that could threaten Keeley’s job. The move shakes not only Keeley’s trust in others, but in her own instincts. In order to get through this, she has to admit to herself that absolute confidence isn’t always the answer.

    Still, that doesn’t mean that Keeley will instantaneously drop her positive outlook or spirited demeanor — she’s managed to hold onto that core part of herself for this long, after all. What Keeley’s arc proves is that at least one character in the Ted Lasso universe can maintain those qualities without remaining trapped in a bubble of forced optimism. Ted’s way seems to force others to simply make the best of the situation they’re in and try to see the bright side of every struggle. It’s a nice enough idea, but it doesn’t offer meaningful coping skills or many opportunities for growth. But Keeley inspires those around her to want more for themselves, and through her own example, she shows them how to take the good and the bad on the way to achieving it. Now that sounds like the makings of a character who deserves top billing.

    New episodes of Ted Lasso drop every Wednesday on Apple TV+. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: Ted Lasso, Apple TV+, Anthony Head, Brett Goldstein, Hannah Waddingham, Jason Sudeikis, Juno Temple, Nick Mohammed, Phil Dunster