When Jamie Tartt was first introduced in Ted Lasso, he was nothing but an egomaniac. The character’s sole purpose in the show was to heckle everyone, including Coach Lasso. His only saving grace was possibly his footballing skill, which also failed to flourish properly due to his arrogance. He was a badly-behaved manchild, a terrible teammate, and an even more terrible boyfriend to Keeley Jones, who rightfully broke up with him. Even though former Richmond boss and Rebecca’s ex-husband Rupert Mannion was the main bad guy of the show, Jamie was like a sore thumb in an otherwise wholesome character dynamic in the show. Naturally, when he left for Manchester City after creating a lot of scenes, everyone at Richmond FC as well as the audience were relieved.
Three years later, we just saw the final episode of season 3, which is potentially the series finale as well, and Jamie Tartt is ending as our favorite character in the show. Although the turn of the tides started in the second season when he came back to Richmond after a disastrous spell at Manchester City, it is the latest season where Jamie finally evolves both as a human being and a footballer. The credit for that obviously goes to the writers and actor Phil Dunster, who plays the part. We love to see redemption arcs in the series. Be it Theon Greyjoy and Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones, Steve Harrington in Stranger Things, or my personal favorite Charlie Pace in Lost, there is something oddly satisfying about watching a fictional person right their wrongs. That said, I didn’t expect to get one as great as Jamie’s from a show like Ted Lasso.
Here’s the thing: I was not exactly a fan of the show. Yes, you might put my head in a guillotine for saying something like that, given that Ted Lasso is a sacred phenomenon, but that’s just the truth. Sure, the first season was wholesome enough, especially given that it came at a time when the world was desperately looking for something positive in the middle of a pandemic. But the second one felt way too saccharine-sweet for my taste. Most of the episodes felt like being force-fed cotton candy. Naturally, I didn’t have much enthusiasm for the third one. I probably would have skipped it if I hadn’t taken up a work commitment, but now I am just glad that I didn’t quit the show. Because, just like Jamie Tartt, the show also redeemed itself in the third and possibly final season. This time around, “Ted Lasso” felt genuinely heartfelt. There was no more quick conflict resolution just for the sake of it; the characters felt real enough to root for, and most importantly, the show was honest enough to care about. The credit for that obviously goes to the much superior writing compared to last season. However, I should add that the finale didn’t quite land right in my book; there were some moments of greatness, but overall it kind of fell short.
Despite not being a fan of the show in its first two seasons, I always felt they did it right with Jamie’s character. Even when he was the “bad Jamie” of season 1, we saw him making up with Roy as early as the fourth episode. We also got to know the “why” behind Jamie’s “I am the best, you all can go to hell” personality. It is technically a “who”—none other than Senior Tartt, who kept emotionally abusing his own son in order to make him great, similar to what Dan Scott did to Nathan Scott in “One Tree Hill”. Granted, it was a very familiar TV trope, but Ted Lasso never really claimed to be something ground-breaking or original anyway. And despite all the problematic writing, Jamie’s dad-issue part has always been handled with utmost maturity.
Jamie’s homecoming to Richmond in Season 2 agitated a lot of players, especially fan favorite Sam Obisanya, who got severely bullied by Jamie. But as a viewer, it saved the show for me. Jamie eventually patches it up with Sam, but he doesn’t just stop there. In a nice callback to the Jamie-Sam rivalry, we see Jamie wearing jersey no. 24 for his international debut, the same number Sam wears at Richmond. Jamie’s good deeds are not limited to this. When the video-leaking scandal reaches Keeley Jones and she has a terribly rough day that includes even Roy unintentionally saying insensitive things (for which he eventually apologizes, nonetheless), it is Jamie who comes to her aid by giving her a surprisingly heartfelt apology because his not deleting the video from his phone is the reason the video got out in the first place. The credit for Richmond’s runaway success in Season 3 goes to Coach Ted for having his Eureka moment with Total Football, but the implementation of it on the field only happens thanks to Jamie Tartt. That also validates the inclusion of the Zava character, which is clearly a fictional, more wholesome version of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. While the self-proclaimed greatest Zava bails on Richmond in dire times (in his defense, he does send a giant avocado to the team in the end), Jamie Tartt emerges as a real team player by doing every possible thing to make things better for his team.
Speaking of Zava being modeled on Ibrahimovic, the obvious comparison between Jamie Tartt and Manchester City’s Jack Grealish is something we must talk about. Although Grealish has a much humbler backstory compared to Jamie, the current Jamie does seem a lot like City No. 10. Both have similar hairstyles, an almost identical style of playing, mostly the same position now that Jamie has selflessly dropped himself down to midfield, and not noticeably different accents from the rest. Of course, Grealish is of Irish descent, and Jamie in the show is Mancunian. Not to mention, both Tartt and Grealish have been managed by Pep Guardiola, who also plays a fictional version of himself in the show.
However, the biggest reason the names Tartt and Grealish are uttered in the same breath these days is because both are very well liked. While Jamie has really made his mark among his teammates, everyone now literally swears by him; Grealish has done the same in the non-fictional world. There are adorable videos of Grealish doing deliveries for Amazon, and even when people do not recognize who he is, he is gracious enough. The confirmation that Jamie Tartt is drawing inspiration from Jack Grealish in season 3 has come from Phil Dunster himself, who has mentioned in the past that his character is a combination of Grealish, Bernardo Silva, Mason Mount, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Interestingly, despite his usually well-liked, cheery persona, Grealish also had a bad-boy image, resembling early Jamie. However, Jamie in the beginning does remind me of another former Manchester City player infamous for his antics, the Italian Mario Balotelli, who washed away despite having a lot of talent.
Apple hasn’t announced anything officially, but we can also agree upon the fact that Ted Lasso is over. Jason Sudekis has publicly said that he doesn’t plan to do more of it. Of course, they can always be stupid and continue the show without the man himself—time will tell. But for now, we say goodbye. And with that, we have to let go of Jamie Tartt, whom we are going to miss dearly. Even though I feel the unnecessary Roy-Jamie scuffle over Keeley in the finale kind of dampens Jamie’s redemption, it can’t take away everything. Jamie Tartt lives in our hearts as the man who rescued his team and took them to greatness. And as someone who grew up to be a better human being over the course of three seasons, The man who inspired all of us to find the light.