I cannot believe that Ted Lasso is as good as it is. This is a sitcom based on a seven-year-old NBC Sports promo, for Christ’s sake. A very funny promo starring Jason Sudeikis, absolutely, but you wouldn’t think after watching it that it would inspire a comedy that’s not just very funny, but also has an enormous amount of heart to it.
The show has the same basic premise as the promo: Ted Lasso is an American football coach who gets hired to coach AFC Redmond, a UK football team. His hiring is a plot by the team’s new owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), who just obtained ownership of the team in her contentious divorce and wants to run the team into the ground as revenge on her ex. It’s a good fish-out-of-water premise, but Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence (who you’ll know as the creator of Scrubs and Cougar Town), and their team make a lot of good tweaks that turn that premise into just a very, very nice show that feels good to watch.
First off, the Ted in the show is slightly different than the one in the promo — still just as ignorant about UK football off the bat, but a lot more friendly, optimistic, and cheerful about this new opportunity he has. Ted’s just such a good dude, to the point that even though a generally critical football reporter writes a column saying that while he expects Richmond to lose, he’s still rooting for Ted. Jason Sudeikis is incredibly charming, and after what seemed like a decade of watching him play charming jerks, it’s nice to see him play a charming good dude.
Second, Ted’s relationship with Rebecca evolves beautifully over the course of the season. At first, yes, Rebecca’s a little bit “muahahaha!!!” about her schemes, but as she gets to know and like Ted a lot more and accept that this new team is also a bit of a new family for her, she opens up and begins to genuinely care about him and the players.
Third, sort of related to that last point, you wouldn’t think that a show with this premise would have a huge focus on female friendship, BUT IT DOES! Rebecca forms an unlikely friendship with Keeley (Juno Temple), one of the players’ girlfriends who has a lot more going for her than that description, and there’s an entire episode centred on how Rebecca let her old friendships disintegrate during her marriage. Rebecca and Keeley have a great dynamic that never feels out of place on the show, and Temple is honestly one of the best parts of the show.
Fourth, lest you be worried that Ted is this unendingly cheerful, unflappable guy, he very clearly does have a bit of a troubled inner life; his marriage is in trouble and he begins experiencing panic attacks. The show is as much about Ted’s becoming a better coach as it is about him realizing that optimism has its benefits and its drawbacks.
And finally, the show is just really, really funny. Bill Lawrence knows how to do comedy and how to balance it with heart, and he’s doing a great job of it here. Not everyone can take a silly NBC Sports promo and turn it into a great TV show with a fully-realized universe, but Lawrence certainly can.
Ted Lasso is on Apple TV+.
That’s all for me today, gorgeous! Talk to you soon.
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