Ted Lasso Season 3 Is Giving Everyone What They Need (As Advertised)

Our first introduction to season 3 of "Ted Lasso" was, above all else, very telling. In the series' main trailer for the current season, the on-screen events are underscored by a classic and well-loved Rolling Stones track titled "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Even simply in the title, one can tell that the choice is there to tell us something — but in case you needed a little extra convincing, the lyrics of the chorus hammer it home:

"You can't always get what you want / But if you try sometimes, well, you might find / You get what you need."

In season 3, our main cast of characters is coming to terms with this very real phenomenon that happens in both on and off-screen contexts. You can't always get what you want, but most of the time, you find you actually get what you need in a situation where you initially felt you were losing out. These characters will be finally getting what they need most — in a benchmark final season, might I add — and though some fans are feeling disappointed tonally by the season so far, it's clear that they're just giving us what they advertised.

Where we're headed

At the beginning of the season, our leads — including Ted himself — are on a high, having been promoted back into the Premier League following a rough relegation. That high doesn't last long, though, with the realities of Nate's defection to West Ham setting in alongside a whole host of personal problems that run the gamut amongst the main characters. For having such a big win in the rearview, life really seems to smack them all in the face quite quickly. Unbeknownst to them initially, these minor setbacks set our football heroes up for the paths they're meant to be on, and they aren't necessarily the most hilarious and forgiving of personal journeys. 

By episode 3 of the new season, these trajectories are clearly in view. Ted will be forced to actually move on in his romantic life. Rebecca's sense of accomplishment will be restored by winning against Rupert and his West Ham team. Keeley will be forced to learn what it means to actually be a boss. Roy will learn the true value of both platonic and romantic connection. And Jamie? He'll get the chance to prove to himself that he's always been worth a damn.

As for Nate, his arc is a special one, as it's one he seems to have been working up to since he went from ball boy to coach. He's going to discover how self-worth can come from a place of gracious pride, rather than envious vengeance. Each journey is its own little noble quest, not necessarily the biggest or most monumental roadblock they'll ever overcome but still each a lesson deeply important to learn. Each main character arc this season is a crucial stepping stone to a fuller and richer life — and usually, the road to that kind of fulfillment isn't exactly the easiest or most exciting one to follow.

Go for the ride

So when it comes to the show's tonal shift from its happy-go-lucky flare to a more muted and realistic gloom, forgive me for being frank when I say we all need to stop whining and see the change for what it is: growth. The tonal switch-up is part of the show's own overarching character arc — after all, when are we ever satisfied with individual characters not being fundamentally changed by the end of a series? Right, so who would actually want to see a version of "Ted Lasso" where the buoyant, bubbly spirit of the show isn't somewhat hardened into a frank yet optimistic realism? Change, and by extension growth, is important to every story, and in this one, each character has no choice but to evolve in ways that will serve them in the long term. Too many times have these characters made choices to sate their impulses in the name of love, friendship, connection, or comfort—and we've two seasons of examples to show for it.

The beauty of the inevitable fact that change is good is, of course, that what's happening to these characters — these fundamental lessons they must learn, and now — isn't necessarily what they want, but what they ultimately need. The show told viewers from its previews exactly what they could expect from this season, an arc where things aren't going to be cheesy and predictable but more in line with how life might truly shake out. Like Richmond securing the legendary Zava on their team by a bizarre stroke of luck, this season is all about tried and true realism and the slight shadow it will always have over our lives.

Shifting for the better

Life doesn't usually come together as we picture it, and we usually picture it as something like a movie because, well, who doesn't like being the main character? Our leads are going to find the beams of light poking through the clouds of their lives and, in the less cheery and more unexpected moments of the series, they will use those beacons as a guide to finding their own best course to take. Everyone wants something different in this world, and personal fulfillment means something different to each and every person. Our core "Ted Lasso" crew is no different. Just because this season isn't as full of unbridled joy and hilarity as we're used to doesn't mean the show — or these characters — have lost the heart they're known for. In fact, they're just following it in the ways they truly need to this time around. 

Season 3 of "Ted Lasso" airs weekly on Wednesdays via Apple TV+.