Ted Lasso Season 3 Is Flirting With A Series-Breaking Mistake

This post contains spoilers for the first two episodes of "Ted Lasso" season 3.

So, they really did it. Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) and Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) have well and truly broken up. Or rather, the writers behind "Ted Lasso" broke up the characters, who over the course of just one season together became so universally beloved that it's hard not to refer to them as if they're real people. The season premiere purposely left the pair's relationship status vague until the last few moments, when they broke the news to Roy's niece, Phoebe (Elodie Blomfield). She pretty much summed up my feelings on the matter, asking Roy, "Can I say a bad word?" before admitting, "I think you're being stupid."

The breakup of one of TV's sweetest and, yes, hottest couples feels like a misstep for a few reasons. Based on statements made by the cast, the third season of "Ted Lasso" may well be the show's last, and while the winsome comedy doesn't owe us happiness, it's also an odd choice for it to set up two of its most delightful characters to languish alone. The pair may well end up together by season's end, but in the meantime, their separation has thrown the entire ensemble dynamic out of whack.

Let Roy and Keeley be happy!

So far, Keeley is getting the worst of it. When the team finds out that the two are over, the soccer players respond with almost cartoonish dramatics. Ted (Jason Sudeikis) almost faints, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) screams, and the team piles Roy's office high with condolence gifts including teddy bears and balloons. Keeley, meanwhile, is stuck in her boring office, where she has to schedule cry breaks. It's hard to watch such a sunny character be a little bit miserable, even if she is clearly capable of picking herself up to move on to whatever's next.

Roy and Keeley fulfill a very specific dynamic that's popular among shippers. Often referred to as "grumpy and sunshine," this trope features a cynical, closed-off character and a more cheerful, outgoing character, both of whom find balance and companionship in one another. Some popular ships that fit the grumpy/sunshine dynamic include Aziraphale and Crowley from "Good Omens," Luke and Lorelai from "Gilmore Girls," and Janine and Gregory from "Abbott Elementary."

The grumpy/sunshine dynamic is endlessly enjoyable to watch. I get giddy seeing a typically stone-faced character hide a smirk inspired by their sunny counterpart, or seeing an extroverted character feel truly appreciated by a person who likes them but hates everyone else. The trope also allows for a relationship story that side-steps generic cliches in order to get to the root of emotional intimacy issues that so many of us face. All of this made Roy and Keeley a joy to watch, and with the pair apart, even temporarily, the potential energy that radiates off the two has all but vanished. It leaves "Ted Lasso" a slightly less magical watch than it was before.

Pheobe had it right: these two are being stupid

This breakup feels wrong for another reason: Roy and Keeley have always been problem-solvers together, and they frankly seem to have given up on their relationship over minor problems. They spent much of the first season finding their way to one another, but their relationship dissolved offscreen during the off season. Very few sitcoms seem capable of writing couples who stay together (Mike Schur shows like "Parks and Recreation" seem to be the exception), but it's time that the long-standing myth that happy TV couples are boring to watch be busted once and for all.

Audiences were given hints that Roy and Keeley's relationship wasn't perfect in the second season finale, when the two realized their new schedules made it difficult for them to spend time together. But that felt like a cliffhanger that would spark future conversations between the pair, not the last nail in the coffin. By not letting us witness the breakup firsthand, the "Ted Lasso" writers turn us all into Phoebes, hearing only enough context to decide that this is stupid and these two should fix it.

Of course, lest I sound like a Roy Kent myself, it's worth noting that this under-developed separation could very well be temporary. "Ted Lasso" has evolved each season, and its emotionally complex second season ultimately opted to give viewers something unexpected, yet better than we could've asked for. With 10 more episodes of its third and probably-last season on the horizon, "Ted Lasso" could easily course correct a plot that feels like one of its only missteps to date. The only question is: How long will we sit around popping balloons like Roy while we wait?

New episodes of "Ted Lasso" become available Wednesdays on Apple TV+.