In Ted Lasso Season 2, Nate Shelley undergoes a startling transformation, from underdog to a twisted, yet, sympathetic, bully. “Nate has become a kind of Darth Vader figure” actor Nick Mohammed says of his complex character. “He’s kind of turned to the dark side. It’s a sad story, really. Socially, he struggles. He doesn’t have a good relationship with his dad, and that explains a hell of a lot.”
If one sitcom has a monopoly on conversations about the pervasiveness of toxic masculinity, it’s easily Ted Lasso. And the journey of Nate Shelley in specific is what Mohammed calls a “cautionary tale, for sure.” But, just as Jason Sudeikis is not actually the mustachioed Ted, Nick Mohammed is not Nate. Like at all. Fatherly caught up with Mohammed, to chat about yes, the impending Lasso Season 3, but also his real world as a father, and how all dads have to fight the long battle to keep our male egos in check.
Mohammed has two boys, Finn and Arthur, who are 6 and 4, respectively. And, for him, this simple fact is what makes him automatically so different than his alter-ego, Nate. Becoming a parent doesn't automatically make someone a better person, but Mohammed does think becoming a dad made him better at recognizing how to divide his energy.
“Ted Lasso has been quite life-changing.”
“Practically, as a parent, you just have less time for yourself,” he says. “You’re using so much of your energy, rightly, to being a parent. I’d already been an actor for about 10 years by the time Finn came about, so I think I became more focused at that time.”
Prior to his big break on Ted Lasso, Mohammed says his work was mostly focused on live performances and that his sons essentially have never known a world in which he wasn’t a performer. But, the fame brought by Ted Lasso has “been quite life-changing”, for his family and Mohammed muses that “something like this comes along once in a lifetime.”
“I think it’s a very positive look at masculinity.”
Because Ted Lasso has been praised by critics and fans alike for its refreshing, and critical takes on what is great — and terrible — about masculinity, how does the cast feel about it? In other words, does Nick Mohammed think we’ve all got the right idea about Nate Shelley?
“I think the critics have got it right. I think it's a very positive look at masculinity. I think there's, there's a lot of hope within it. And even within Nate’s story, there’s some hope. Conversations about toxic masculinity sort of stop dead because toxic masculinity is so toxic. I think there’s something to be examined about the relationships between the players and their dads. And of course, the way some of the coaches become father figures, too. I think it gives us hope. Hope that we don’t see history repeating itself again and again.”
In Season 2, the biggest turn for Nate came when, after being bullied, he himself, turned into a bully. While Nick Mohammed is a decidedly more grounded, and kind person than Nate, he does sympathize with his alter ego. At one point, we saw Nate becoming obsessed with how people were talking about him on social media, something Mohammed says is totally relatable. “We’ve all got some of that inside of us. It’s important for people to recognize how that kind of behavior can spill over, especially if like, Nate, that person was bullied, too.”.
Ted Lasso Season 3 doesn’t have a release date, and Mohammed is tight-lipped about what will happen next in the mega-popular show. But, he is quick to point out that change is baked into what makes the show so popular.
“Nate will change again in [Ted Lasso] Season 3.”
“Obviously, we’re at a point at the beginning of Season 3 where there’s gonna be a lot of people who dislike Nate,” Mohammed says with a laugh. “That was the trick with Season 2, taking a character everyone loved and making you hate him! But, we’re only partway through filming Season 3. And all I can say is it won’t be more of the same. Nate will change again in Season 3.”
Ted Lasso Seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Apple TV+. Season 3 is expected in late 2022.