Has there ever been a woman who has said less on TV than Nate’s (Nick Mohammed) girlfriend, Jade (Edyta Budnik), on Ted Lasso? The internet will likely correct me, so I must state that I’m being hyperbolic. Jade speaks, though infrequently, and never about herself nor any of her own passions, desires, or goals. And that is why she has become the worst character on Ted Lasso.
Ted Lasso, through its wobbly Season 3, has done one thing right: Its characters are all still lovable, and all feel true to the same people they were when we met them in Season 1. I love Jamie (Phil Dunster) more than I ever have before. Roy (Brett Goldstein) is still whipping out the word “f*ck” over and over again in a way that feels fresh every time. Keeley (Juno Temple) is struggling with her life, but I love her unabashed optimism nonetheless.
Each character is engaging—even footballers like Colin (Billy Harris), Isaac (Kola Bokinni), and Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) get some time in the spotlight. Who would say no to more of Trent Crimm (James Lance)? But Jade is one character that Ted Lasso has spent so little time developing that she’s become a complete non-entity compared to the rest of the cast. And it’s such a glaring problem that it’s starting to tarnish the final episodes of the season.
We met Jade in Season 2. A hostess at Nate and his family’s favorite Mediterranean restaurant, Jade never really gave Nate what he wanted: the window seat for his family. No amount of fame (no, knowing Roy Kent doesn’t get you special privilege) could convince her to give him that coveted sunny spot. In Season 3, Nate frequents the eatery, trying to flirt with Jade. She rejects him time and time again, telling him she’s picky about her life—until, one day, she finally agrees to go on one date with him.
A few scenes later, they’re boyfriend and girlfriend. It’s as simple as that. How did this happen? Who is Jade? And what does she see in Nate, who has become such an egotistical football coach in this last season?
I was once a hostess at a restaurant, and without any hesitation, I can confirm that if a power-hungry football coach like Nate walked in the door and tried to berate me into giving him a nice table, not only would I ask him to leave, I’d ask him to stay out of my life forever. That Jade is willing to allow this man into her personal life, to meet her friends, to stay in her bed—it makes absolutely no sense at all. This twisted dream woman does not exist.
The other ladies of Ted Lasso—Keeley, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), Jack (Jodi Balfour), even Ted’s wife Michelle (Andrea Anders)—all have more drive and purpose than Jade. This weekend, if you dine at a restaurant, you might learn more about your real hostess’ life more than we’ve learned about Jade’s on the show—which is saying something, considering a hostess’ job is simply to walk you to your table and pass out menus. Jade has become an actual character on Ted Lasso, and we still know nothing about her.
No shade to the actress that plays Jade—she’s giving it her all, but there’s little in the way of an actual character for her to portray. With more material, Budnik could be the next Temple or Waddingham of the show; unfortunately, the writers are giving her so little to work with that I fear she’ll become the most forgettable cast member.
There is an interaction from Twitter that I think about at least once a week. It’s become quite a popular meme. “Men that don’t play video games >” the first tweet reads, followed by a quote tweet that says, “Women that don’t speak >>>”. Then, the kicker: “That’s me,” a woman responds, adding an emoji showing a girl with her hand raised in the air. “I don’t have sh*t to say to anyone lol.” Perhaps the Ted Lasso fanbase won’t understand me when I compare Jade to this tweet. But in my head, it makes perfect sense: She is the perfect woman, because she doesn’t speak, offering love to her erratic boyfriend with little care for his bad (but inexplicably improving?) attitude.
So what could fix this character? Perhaps it’s time for her to meet the other women of the Ted Lasso cast, like Keeley and Rebecca. But Keeley and Rebecca have, you know, actual personalities. They talk about their hobbies, their careers, their passion projects. If Jade were introduced, I can only imagine she’d talk about Mediterranean food and, maybe, Nate. Perhaps why Table 14 is the best table. Maybe why she prefers hummus to tzatziki. The conversation topics are endless!
Jokes aside, a strong character like Nate really deserves a full love story with a woman who feels like a real person. We’ve seen him grow (and recess) through such vivid storylines in these three seasons of Ted Lasso, that whittling his love life down to a hostess with no personality feels like a great disservice to his character. Remember that long list of character motivations Mohammed shared on Twitter after the Season 2 finale? We need that for Nate’s girlfriend, too. Both characters deserve equal attention.