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In the 10th episode of Ted Lasso, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) attends her father’s funeral. Joining her in a room just off the church sanctuary are Keeley Jones (Juno Temple), Rebecca’s mother, Deborah (Emmy-nominated guest actress Harriet Walter), longtime friend Sassy (Ellie Taylor) and Sassy’s teenage daughter, Nora (Kiki May). While Rebecca and her mom are grieving, the friends who have joined them bring a bit of levity to a sad scene — especially when the ladies learn Rebecca has a new, secret boyfriend.
Jane Becker says this scene was exciting to write, mostly because of its novelty. “I wanted a cool [moment] where a bunch of gals have a really fun scene together, which is something you don’t see a lot,” she says, noting how atypical it is of the male-centric Ted Lasso and also of “television in general.” Adds Becker with a laugh: “Except when you’re watching The Real Housewives. That’s when we see it the best.”
This scene also had a narrative purpose: for Rebecca’s mother and friends to find out that she’s been dating Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh), AFC Richmond’s right back. “She doesn’t really come clean on her own,” explains Becker.
In addition to writing a scene focused on female characters, this moment connects a group of women of varying ages — “three solid generations” as Becker points out. “I have never written a scene where a multigenerational group of women are having a conversation, and it’s fun and there’s not a lot of drama or someone hasn’t hurt someone,” she says. But if the scene lacks tension, it makes up for it with the joyful camaraderie among Rebecca and her loved ones. “There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on.”
The presence of Sassy’s daughter, Nora, in this scene changed Becker’s approach to the writing. “She’s basically a child, so you have to be a little less grotesque,” she says. The same goes for Rebecca’s mother, Deborah, even though she proved earlier in the season to be game for saucy banter.
Becker notes that this scene wasn’t full of jokes. “There’s not a lot of setup, punchline,” she says, adding that she worked with star/writer Jason Sudeikis to nail the tone. Ultimately, the humor comes from the rapid-fire repartee between best friends Keeley and Rebecca. “With them, it’s like candy for dinner,” Becker says. Of Keeley figuring out Rebecca’s new fling in one guess, Becker adds: “It’s the most banal clue. It’s the magic of female friendship, and that’s very much Keeley and Rebecca.”
This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
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