'Ted Lasso' Is a Wonderful Comfort Binge, Really
The Apple TV+ show is an unlikely delight.
What if I told you that an Apple TV+ show about an American football coach-turned-British "football" coach based on an ad campaign for NBC Sports had people searching for biscuit recipes online? Not U.S. style Southern biscuits, but UK style biscuits, as in cookies, as in shortbread, preferably packaged in a cute pink box.
There are plenty of search results for Ted Lasso's sweet treats, which is just one of the mainly unlikely things about this absolute delight of a comedy. If you're looking for something genuinely sweet to watch while anticipating the shitshow the world will be this week, you would be hard pressed to find a better selection than Ted Lasso.
The pitch for Ted Lasso will sound vaguely familiar to anyone who has seen Major League. Hannah Waddingham—probably best known to audiences as the shame nun on Game of Thrones—plays Rebecca, the new owner of the AFC Richmond football club. She's recently divorced from a philandering billionaire who cares deeply about the team, so she sets out to destroy it. A key part of that plan is hiring Ted Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis, the unexpectedly successful coach of the Wichita State football team notorious for a goofy post-win locker room dance. Rebecca's plan is sly: Ted is accomplished enough not to seem like a total joke, but, of course, he really doesn't know anything about soccer.
I'll admit that I was first wary of Ted Lasso. The trailers made it seem like it would be full of a bunch of gags about the British-American cultural divide, and it is, but Ted himself is not the stereotype of the ugly American, unwilling to learn. In fact, he's the opposite. Ted is wide-eyed and eager to embrace his new surroundings and his new game.
Ted surprises everyone by being absurdly, compulsively nice. He immediately befriends the picked upon "kit man," Nate (Nick Mohammed). He throws isolated Nigerian player Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) a birthday party to make him feel more supported by the rest of the club. And, yes, he brings Rebecca delicious biscuits every morning, which she reluctantly accepts but then grows to enjoy. She tries to hunt down the shop where he buys them to no avail. Why is that? Well—light spoiler alert—he doesn't buy them. He tenderly bakes them himself and packages them in pretty pink boxes. Almost immediately, it's hard not to want to give Ted Lasso a big ol' hug.
On top of his overwhelming kindness and his heartfelt desire not just to win but to help his team grow and thrive, he has a deep well of cinematic, literary, and pop-culture references. Case in point: There's an All That Jazz joke in the pilot, and a riff on the oeuvre of Martin Scorsese that's both clever and extremely nerdy. He gifts each of his players a book. To Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), the surly veteran, he bestows A Wrinkle in Time.
But all of this isn't to say that Ted's good cheer makes him some sort of cartoon character, despite his love of aphorisms and puns. Ted Lasso—which Sudeikis created alongside Bill Lawrence—is also not-so-secretly about heartbreak and the lengths people go to to tell themselves everything is going to be alright.
That's perhaps why Ted Lasso hits so right at this moment in time. Its lack of cynicism makes it comforting to watch, but it also knows that optimism often masks sadness. Its cast of characters is just so easy to love, from Ted to his taciturn assistant coach (Brendan Hunt) to footballer girlfriend/model turned publicist (Juno Temple). I could go on. The good news is that Apple has already renewed the series for two more seasons. So find some biscuits, make a cup of tea, and curl up with Ted Lasso. You deserve it.
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