You Need to be Watching
December 11, 2020
Editor in Chief
Apple TV’s latest comedy, “Ted Lasso,” is the antidote to the weariness of 2020. First established as a promotional commercial character for NBC in 2013, Apple TV has created a joyful series around an American football coach turned U.K. football coach (turns out, the two sports don’t have much in common. Who would have thought?). Jason Sudeikis plays the title character with quiet, unassuming brilliance. First lulling the audience into believing that his Lasso might be just another run-of-the-mill bumbling idiot, Sudeikis deftly navigates a complete and utter delight of a character who you soon realize sees and knows much more than he’s given credit for.
While Ted might bear the show’s name, it is truly a group effort that makes this gem succeed. Every character is thought-out and given their moment to shine, and the actors play off each other like a well-oiled machine (truly a feat for a first season of any show).
That is the beauty of Ted Lasso—both the man and the show. There’s a recognition of inherent value, of human dignity, apart from what someone brings to the pitch, so-to-speak. It sees people. And it turns our traditional tropes and stereotypes on their heads. Rebecca (played by a fantastic Hannah Waddingham), the football club’s new owner and ex-wife to a philandering playboy, isn’t a stereotypical trope of a woman scorned, she’s a human in the midst of immense grief. Her friendship with Keeley, resident model “famous for being almost famous,” should be a prerequisite for any writer looking to convey female friendships accurately.
The team’s kit man, Nate, would have been a series-long scapegoat on any other show. Instead, he’s allowed to flourish under Ted’s respect and encouragement, a subtle move that changes how the team responds to him as well.
The team itself is full of hilarious, dynamic actors led by Brett Goldstein as the once great, but slowly fading, Roy Kent. Even Ted himself, for all his sunny demeanor and persistent enthusiasm, is battling his own heartbreak and demons. Each character is so much more than who they are first presented to the audience as. They’re complicated and messy and unexpectedly vulnerable. They’re real.
And they’re funny. I’m working on my third viewing (don’t side-eye me! We’re in a pandemic. Three times is a perfectly normal amount to watch something) and I’m still catching things I missed the first two times around. An insane mix of big moment laughs coupled with little jokes and throw-away lines that any comedy writer would kill to have thought up first. Often in comedy, heart is sacrificed for the punchlines—the thought that anything remotely sentimental will cut laughter short. But “Ted Lasso” proves that not only can you have both, but they in fact make the other stronger in the process. It is clear that the writing staff of “Ted Lasso,” many of whom also play characters on the show, had a common vision and executed it in spades.
In a time when reality feels like a dystopian nightmare, “Ted Lasso” brings joy and optimism rarely pulled off well in entertainment. Do yourself a favor and watch the show. If you don’t have Apple TV, sign up for their free week trial and binge it (I guarantee you can’t stop with just one episode). It’ll make you laugh, cry, and give you the gift of remembering that our humanity is so much greater than just our sum parts.