Ted Lasso (2020, Apple TV+)
Created by: Bill Lawrence & Joe Kelly
Who is Ted Lasso?
He’s a kindhearted American who has had some success coaching a college American Football team, who is then offered a job on the other side of the Atlantic, managing an English Premier League team that have come under new ownership as the spoils of an acrimonious divorce. Personally, his incessant optimism has put him at odds with his wife, so he hopes the distance will help that situation, though it means he must work hard to keep in good contact with his young son back in the States.
What even is football?
It’s a game, logically named as it’s played with a ball that’s passed between players using their feet. Other countries like to call this ‘Soccer’, which makes less sense. There are rules to the game and a surrounding culture that would be largely unfamiliar to someone who comes from coaching American football, and therein lies much of the thrust of this show, providing motivation on a couple of different levels in different story arcs.
How much football is there in this show about a football team?
Thankfully not all that much. Mostly the show is set off-pitch, picking up when the players return to the changing room. There’s a nice balance of professional and personal storylines but very little of the show requires demonstrations of actual playing. As someone who doesn’t care for football or sports in general, I think the show has so much to appeal to people like myself to whom the sporting aspect isn’t a hook, but just want a good sitcom. With Bill Lawrence behind this, you can understand his skill in that way, that though ‘Scrubs’ was set in a hospital, it wasn’t a show you watch for the medical storyline, rather the interplay with the characters, whose personalities and quirks made it enjoyable, whether the situations they were facing were work-based or personal, comedic or emotional.
Why has this been such a big hit?
It’s a truth universally known that footballers are not always the nicest of people. However, ‘Ted Lasso’ is filled with likeable characters, even those who at times act in a way that’s unpleasant. Some are warm, honest, kindhearted, often to a fault. The show makes a point early on, then lives up to it, that what’s important is when someone who makes mistakes, will admit to them, take responsibility and apologize. This happens time and again, often in the next scene, redeeming even the most troubled of char It’s not cynical, really oddly refreshing, you generally want to spend time in the company of these characters. Juno Temple is brilliant as a model/influence type, who is not merely to serve the interests or narrative in relation to who her character is dating, she’s quickly developed to be a key character, acing the Bechdel test and pursuing interesting storylines with impressive agency. Nick Mohammed is surprisingly good as the kit man whose input is valued by his new bosses. The players vary, from arrogant Jamie and gruff Roy (Brett Goldstein, ‘SuperBob’) to my favourite, the effervescent Sam who is a warm hug of a character.
Where can I watch this?
Interestingly this is one of the key shows on Apple TV+ a service that hasn’t really become a runaway success, nor has it enticed many people beyond Apple device owners who have been lured with a year’s free subscription. Their shows, however, are surprisingly good which is why I keep hearing about them winning awards and high praise.
When can I watch more?
You loved the first season, didn’t you? Ten episodes just weren’t enough in these dark times. It’s okay, there are a dozen more on the way for season two, and a third season after that, but we’ll have to wait as production is underway. I can see Apple prioritising, especially with all the Awards recognition giving the show a nice little boost, but I expect their release schedule is tied up a lot with ending their introductory offer.
Nominated for a couple of Golden Globes this year for Comedy Series and Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Sudekis, this show has started well, and if it returns with similar joy and optimism, I can see it steadily gaining a strong audience who’d be willing to pay for access to more.