As a Child of Divorce I Love How the First Season of Ted Lasso Treated the Relationship Between Ted and Michelle
Sometimes, it doesn't work out, and that's fine.
Spoilers for Ted Lasso season one (up to episode eight)
I’ve finally started watching Ted Lasso.
It is REALLY good.
Honestly, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the series. As someone who enjoys her fair share of sports anime, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not terribly invested in watching actual games, but I am invested in the character drama that comes with sports television series. The game is treated like a set piece for the characters, a tool where we get to find out who they are and what motivates them in the game and in life.
Watching the final quarter of a game after spending episodes getting attached to an entire team WILL make me cry.
Ted Lasso does all of this with a wholesome lead character you wanna wrap in a blanket. I knew that going in. All it takes is one trip through Twitter to see the love for this mustached man who embodies fresh baked cookies on a Sunday morning.
What I didn’t know was how the series would go about telling its story and how we’d see the relationships between its characters. I expected to meet passionate men who played the game for x, y, and z reasons, but I did not expect the different kinds of relationship dynamics we’d get with the female cast of the show.
After watching eight episodes of the first season, I could write an entire essay on how much I love Rebecca, the owner of AFC Richmond (the team Ted coaches), and how Keeley is quickly becoming best girl for me (she’s the model who works as the team’s manager for marketing/PR).
However, I’m dedicating this piece to Michelle, Ted’s ex-wife.
Michelle, in a way, is what solidified my love for the series simply because she has a plot thread that I’m used to going in a direction that I hate. When we first meet her it’s through Ted, and we find out that she wanted some distance put between them. I immediately envisioned a plotline where Michelle would be villainized, after all, Ted is the nicest guy you ever did see and he’s trying to give Michelle exactly what she wants – so much so that he moves to another country to coach a sport he knows nothing about.
I expected to have to deal with characters going on and on about how wrong Michelle was, or worse, find out that Michelle had done something awful while Ted was away to try and create a reason for the breakup. Instead, the series reveals that nothing catastrophic happened to tear a wedge between them, nor are there any characters casting stones at Michelle for wanting to leave Ted. There’s no grand attempt to try and get Michelle to see the error of her ways or some scene where their son (Henry) begs mommy and daddy to stay together.
Truth be told, it is entirely possible for a couple to just not work out, and I really wish more media would explore this kind of separation and how healthy it is to say goodbye in times like this.
Instead of dragging things along, Ted agrees to the divorce a lot faster than I thought. While it does hurt him (and Michelle, too), there’s this feeling of them separating being for the best versus trying to hold onto something that isn’t there.
As a child of divorce (my parents separated when I was five) I can honestly say that it was the best thing that happened to my family, though my mother has told me (when I got older) that people gave her a hard time about it. To this day I remember my grandmother still referring to my father as her son-in-law, even if they’d gotten a divorce, and even if they both had new relationships throughout the years. There were people, family members even, wondering why my mother couldn’t work things out with my father, making her out to be some kind of nefarious person for daring to “break her family apart.”
That’s what I expected Ted Lasso to do.
I’m so glad that it didn’t.
To me, staying together to satisfy other people when you aren’t happy is just going to make things worse – especially if there are children involved. There’s this staying together “for the children” narrative that happens way too much. Children aren’t oblivious to what’s going on in their homes. I have very vivid memories of my father and my stepmother fighting (he got re-married when I was nine) but trying to appear as if all was well. I knew something was wrong each and every time they’d come together after a fight they thought I didn’t know about. It always made me feel uncomfortable because… why are you lying to me about being happy?
They’d go on to separate later.
All of this is why I greatly appreciate Ted Lasso not having a narrative where a married couple stays together because they think they have to. I know to some it sounds strange to be happy about a couple separating, but sometimes, divorce leads to better things for everyone.
(Image: Apple TV+)
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