5 Ways “Ted Lasso” Became a Surprise Comedy Success
“Ted Lasso,” last summer’s hit on Sleeper TV, returns for a much-anticipated second season Friday on Apple TV +.
For the uninitiated, “Ted Lasso” follows a tart-voiced, perpetually optimistic folk American football coach (Jason Sudeikis) who is hired to oversee a mediocre British football team by the team’s frigid new owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham).
The trap ? Ted doesn’t know anything about football.
Yes, that’s a wacky premise, but the wellbeing and underdog story struck a nerve with viewers locked in desperation for upbeat vibes (and heartfelt laughs) during a grueling year. “Ted Lasso” has become an unlikely phenomenon, as well as an awards darling. Last week, he received 20 Emmy nominations – the most ever for a freshman comedy.
How, exactly, did this happen? Let’s count the paths:
1. The power of positive thinking
In an era when the television landscape is littered with grim drama, doomsday storylines, and substantial terror, Ted Lasso’s ever-sunny demeanor stands out as a refreshing oasis.
Yes, the odds are stacked against him: fans and UK media think this is a joke. His players at AFC Richmond club can’t believe they’ve been grappling with this ignorant setter.
Yet he approaches his work – and life – with a mustached smile and a vibrant mind (“I believe in hope. I believe in BELIEVE it,” he insists). On top of all that, he’s a human person who treats everyone with kindness and respect, even the humble team’s equipment manager (Nick Mohammed).
2. The quotable life lessons
Ted is much more perceptive than his golly-gee demeanor suggests. In many ways, he holds the keys to helping those around him unlock their true potential.
This knowledge is imparted via seemingly silly – but precise – verbal gems. As when one of his players becomes brooding over insults, Ted encourages him to quickly get rid of the negativity.
“Do you know what the happiest animal on Earth is? Ted asks. “It’s a goldfish. You know why? I have a 10 second memory. Be a goldfish.
3. Humor mixed with heart
A sports sitcom that is really so much more than sports, “Ted Lasso” offers a lot of broad, wacky humor and moments of laughter out loud. He also has a way of sneaking up on you and hitting unexpected emotional chords.
One of the most moving subplots in the series relates to Ted’s personal life. We learn in Season 1 that he is in the midst of a painful divorce and that he misses his young son back in America dearly.
4. The excellent ensemble cast
All discussions of “Ted Lasso” naturally begin and end with Sudeikis. But it’s worth noting that the show’s boon of Emmy nominations included six stunning nods in support of the performers – Juno Temple, Brendan Hunt, Brett Goldstein, Jeremy Swift, Waddingham, and Mohammed.
Obviously, it’s an agile set that has play. And each of them offers something distinctive to the eccentric mix.
Waddingham, in particular, brings nuance to what could have been the cartoonish Ice Queen. It is remarkable. And Mohammed is quietly hilarious as an insecure “kit man,” who shows up as a sweet, sad puppy before developing more bite.
5. The weird mysteries of football
Football is perhaps the so-called “beautiful game”, if not the most popular sport in the world. Still, many Americans don’t quite get it, and Ted hilariously expresses his bewilderment in a way that makes us a little more comfortable with our ignorance.
When, for example, he learns that there are links in football, he is incredulous.
“If God had wanted matches to end in a tie, she wouldn’t have invented the numbers,” complains Ted.
And what constitutes an offside violation in football? Poor Ted is stunned.
“I think I understand literally better who killed Kennedy than what is offside,” he said before pausing for a long time and adding, “It was the crowd.”
– Tribune press service