A new season of the charming US-UK comedy arrived on Apple TV+ last night, and Ted fans could not be more excited. But why does everyone love Ted Lasso so much?
Ted Lasso wants us to believe. He also wants us to be as wise as a goldfish, but mostly, Ted reckons positive thinking can really take you places. It’s this energy that takes the wacky American all the way to London to coach a sport he has zero experience in, and the same vibe that scored the heartwarming comedy a whopping twenty Primetime Emmy nominations in its first season. With a second season landing last night, we’re about to discover more wonderful reasons to believe in Ted Lasso.
Saturday Night LIve’s Jason Sudeikis stars (and writes and produces) as title character Ted, a successful American college football coach who’s hired to manage an English Premier football club, despite knowing nothing about the game. But Ted’s not just another middle-class white American man performing a role he’s completely unqualified for. Ted believes. He’s going to London because he’s full of hope, and The Lasso Way hasn’t failed him yet.
That’s because Ted is the most earnest character on television. He’s relentlessly upbeat and unfailingly kind, even when 26,000 AFC Richmond fans scream “wanker” at him from the stands. No other person would bake biscuits every morning for his boss, or believe in every person he meets, or be so wholesome that even his moustache seems to twinkle with decency. He’s Ned Flanders, without the fervent religious streak. If he wasn’t so gosh darn likeable, Ted Lasso would make you sick.
Not everyone loves a human ray of sunshine, though. Thrown in the deep end at AFC Richmond, Ted struggles to gain the respect of his surly, egotistical players, and suffers the wrath of a sceptical press and public. There’s also a reason he flew 4000 miles from his family to work in an unfamiliar city. A spectacular moustache can only do so much for a marriage, and there’s a darker melancholy hiding beneath Ted’s otherwise optimistic demeanour.
Ted slowly works his goofy magic on AFC Richmond, an ensemble of characters equally bemused and bewildered by his unorthodox leadership style. There’s Nathan (Nick Mohammed), the shy assistant who Ted takes under his wing; Keeley (Juno Temple), the sassy WAG who’s more than just an ornament on the star player’s arm; and monosyllabic Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), Ted’s trusted assistant, whose secretive love life is determined by a chess board.
The villain is new club owner Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), who hires Ted as part of her plan to sabotage the thing her ex-husband loves the most. She wants Ted to fail horrendously, yet she enjoys the most satisfying redemption arc of the series. Each of these supporting characters is arguably more interesting than Ted is, and nice-as-pie Ted would probably be the first to admit it.
Team work makes the dream work, and this stellar cast breathes warmth and life into the show, making Ted Lasso the most charming comedy on television right now. Despite its cliches and stereotypes, the show’s sincere heart becomes its anchor. The characters are wonderfully, lovably flawed, and the writing hums with gleeful energy and slick one-liners. There’s a brilliant balance of American bluster and British cynicism, and while Ted Lasso’s London is all cobbled lanes and bunting swaying in the breeze, it’s sweet without being sickly, moving without being heavy.
It’s a joy to watch a show where the two central female characters not only get along, but pride themselves on lifting each other up. Keeley and Rebecca are ambitious and intelligent women who know they can help make the other stronger. It’s also refreshing to have a male hero who treats women well, who’s comfortable with his own emotions and who champions a softer, benevolent form of masculinity. Ted isn’t perfect, but he does reckon Carlton’s dance from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air is the finest piece of pop culture from the last three decades. Like every other piece of sage Lasso wisdom, it’s hard to argue with his logic.
Ted Lasso is more than a sports comedy. It’s a gentle, jaunty stroll into a beautifully realised world, where strength comes from genuine friendships and the sweetest victories have little to do with scoring goals. Ted Lasso is a show where happiness wins, and the perfect series to collapse into when you’re weary of the world. It will lift you up and carry you along, because as Ted tells his players: “if you care about something and you’ve got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothing you can’t get through together”. Can we kick it, Ted Lasso? Yes, we can.
Season two of Ted Lasso lands on Apple TV+ on July 23.
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