For being as aware about pop culture as everyone else who writes for this website, I must admit that I am slightly shocked by the oversight that has plagued this show. To be fair, I hadn’t given it any consideration myself until I hit peak boredom this week and started asking my dad for TV recommendations (Don Smith gives Ted Lasso a resounding five stars!). I’ve been hesitant to give anything on Apple TV+ a chance, mostly because any and every commercial for its debuts have been aggressively mediocre. But Ted Lasso dropped on the platform over the summer, and it is a genuine and outright shame that we did not all IMMEDIATELY jump on board the train.
Before I begin a lengthy word-vomit about how I have a new favorite show (I mean it), it’s fair to give some background on the series. I assume that everyone is equally as unfamiliar with it as I was, because I’ve seen absolutely nothing about it online and I refuse to accept there are aspects of people’s lives that they don’t immediately share on the internet. I am perfectly willing to recognize the naivety of that statement—the critics have apparently been raving about Lasso for months—but how was anyone supposed to know that? Apple TV+ representatives have claimed that Lasso is the streaming service’s most popular comedy, but to be fair, what other comedies is it competing with? Anyways...
Ted Lasso, starring SNL alum and all-around charmer Jason Sudeikis, is actually based off of an old NBC commercial—as strange as that may sound. Back in 2013, the network acquired the rights to air Premier League soccer (football!), and they aired a couple of promo commercials that featured Sudeikis portraying an American football coach who had been hired by the Tottenham Spurs to manage their English football team. “Football is football no matter where you play it,” commercial Ted Lasso announced. Little did he—or Sudeikis, for that matter—know that seven years later, the character would be brought back to life in the most delightful and heartwarming way possible.
The show follows a small-town college football coach from Kansas who, along with his sidekick Coach Beard (played by Brendan Hunt, who is also a co-writer), is abruptly shipped out to the United Kingdom to manage a notoriously average football team called AFC Richmond. A recently divorced and rightfully vengeful Rebecca Mannion (Hannah Waddingham) owns the club, and she hires Ted Lasso in the hopes that he will quickly and completely destroy it. What follows is a relentless attempt by Lasso to woo not only his boss and the press, but his entire team of stubborn British footballers and their even more unforgiving fans.
One thing, among many, that Ted Lasso does almost shockingly well at is devoting time and attention to developing well-rounded characters. Regardless of their initial label—be it warm and almost overbearing like Coach Ted, or standoffish and monotonous like team captain Roy Kent (played by Brett Goldstein, who IMO gets more attractive as the season progresses without changing his look at all)—every persona contributing to the story is given warmth and depth that makes it much easier to become invested in the plot and carrying out the season to its finale. The strangest part is that, at a certain point, you realize there are almost no unlikable characters (there is one, but I’ll refrain from identifying them). It’s something we aren’t quite used to on TV today, when even the cheeriest shows often end up with at least one poorly-written protagonist who ends up being more of a nuisance than a friend. I understand that Ted Lasso himself is supposed to be optimistic in a way that should probably be annoying, but as a life-long pessimist I still found myself head over heels for him and his southern charm. Admittedly, if Jason Sudeikis played a serial killer, I would still probably say the same thing. But he isn’t, so we don’t have to worry about the conflict of interest there.
I won’t go on any longer for fear of spoiling any part of the show, because it would truly be a shame if anyone was unable to enjoy Ted Lasso as much as I did going in blind. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that the showrunners brought Marcus Mumford (of Mumford and Sons, which I hope you put together) on to soundtrack the entire series. It’s not an important aspect by any means, but I did think it was funny—mainly because he put a Mumford song in pretty much every episode and then blindly picked the rest of the music off of an indie-pop playlist on Spotify (he didn’t, but you’ll see what I mean). Despite that, there is pretty much nothing to dislike here from start to finish.
It's actually sickening how much I enjoyed Ted Lasso. By the end of the second episode, I was legitimately dreading the season ending and having to wait a year for it to come back. It’s one of those series that just makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside—sort of like Schitt’s Creek, but sporty, if that appeals to you more—yet it also genuinely makes you think about the relationships you have with everyone in your life and how you could potentially better yourself as a person. Sure, maybe I’m overthinking it. At the end of the day, it is just a sitcom; but at the same time, it wasn’t just a sitcom. It was something that I feel like everyone needs a little bit of in these turbulent times. And, lucky for all of us, the fun doesn’t have to stop after season one! The show has already been renewed for another two seasons, and I am counting down the days until we can dive back in. I say “we” and “us” instead of “me” and “I,” because I am certain that once any of you give Ted Lasso a try, there will be no looking back. Godspeed!