Nate has had an interesting arc so far in Ted Lasso season 2, but why does he keep being so mean to Will, the new kit man? Season 2 has spent a lot of time fleshing out Nate’s persona, his family situation, and his role in the overarching Ted Lasso story. But his repeated outbursts at other members of the team, especially Will (not to mention Colin), could lead to big problems in the AFC Richmond locker room.
At the beginning of Ted Lasso season 1, Nate’s just the kit man himself. He comes off as a downtrodden introvert, who’s shocked when Ted simply remembers his name. Over the course of season 1, Ted gives Nate more and more responsibility, eventually promoting him to the rank of assistant coach. But for all that advancement, Nate seems to only have become more empowered to belittle and demean the AFC Richmond players and staff, with a particularly nasty outburst to Will at the end of season 2, episode 7.
But there are a number of reasons Nate keeps taking his anger out on Will. In some ways, it feels like a redirection of his own self-loathing. Nate used to have Will’s job, and while he’s trying desperately to assert himself as a more important and developed person than he was then, his self-esteem is still clearly low. It makes some twisted sense then that Nate would choose to take out his own self-doubts and frustrations on Will, who may represent to him what he used to be and is trying not to be anymore. Nate only yells at Will in season 2, episode 7 after seeing a mean comment about him on Twitter, making the connection pretty apparent. Nate finally has a measure of respect and power for the first time in his life and is deeply terrified of losing it. Anything that seems to threaten his position, or that seems to disrespect him–even if it’s something as innocent as teammates lovingly joking about a simple verbal gaffe he made–causes him to lash out disproportionately.
Clearly, Nate has a lot of personal issues in Ted Lasso season 2 that he still needs to work through. His father is incredibly distant emotionally and only speaks to his son to criticize or scold him, suggesting that he never really gave Nate much validation growing up. And it wouldn’t seem that he got much from anywhere else, either, before meeting Ted, at least not from the men in his life. Thus, he’s developed mean tendencies as defense mechanisms after being put down by people his whole life, and now that he’s finally in a setting where he’s respected and supported, he’s having trouble shedding those long-held habits. But it’s clear he won’t until he becomes more secure with who he is.
Give that Ted Lasso is really a show about personal growth, Nate will likely overcome his own defenses; eventually, he’ll have to learn that standing up for himself is not the same as putting others down. But it could be some time before that fully takes place. Ted Lasso season 2 looks like it’s building his meanness up to a breaking point, which could play into the dark season finale that Jason Sudeikis has teased. Hopefully, Nate will come out the other side of Ted Lasso season 2 with more confidence and an understanding he can’t put other people like Will down.