“Ted Lasso” is the show for our times

Streaming recommendation of the week 10/22/21


Courtesy of Apple

While “Ted Lasso” seems silly on the surface, the show’s themes have are among the most prescient of everything on the air

Shreyas Banerjee, Life Editor

Let’s face it. It’s been a tough year and a half. Having been faced with death around every corner, constant anxiety over receiving or transmitting the virus and the isolation that comes with being socially distanced has been difficult. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed us all in ways we won’t understand for quite some time. While there is hope now with the Delta variant seemingly receding in the United States and vaccines available commonly, we’ve been on this rodeo before and at this point many have given up hope of life ever returning to normal.

To that, the titular character from the show “Ted Lasso” has one thing to say: “Believe.”

Since the first season’s premiere in August 2020, “Ted Lasso” has become something of a cultural phenomenon, with audiences around the world latching onto the sports comedy. The premise is absurd, with the show centered around Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), an American college football coach who moves to England to head a Premier League soccer team. The characters in the show also see how ridiculous this is, but as the show goes on, Ted gradually chips away at the cynicism of his naysayers the same way the show does with its audience—through unbridled kindness, decency and optimism. 

Coach Lasso may not seem particularly well suited for coaching in a sport he doesn’t know the basic rules for, but little by little, he turns the culture of AFC Richmond around, even endearing himself to those who set him up to fail, such as club owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), whose divorce has led her to want to destroy the club. The first season effectively allows audience members to take on this disbelief, but as Ted’s unwavering Midwestern charm and positivity translates into creating a culture of caring at AFC Richmond, he wins everyone over by the end. No viewer can come away from the show without finding themselves unequivocal believers of the “Lasso Way.”

Of course, not all is perfect with Ted—his constant positivity seems to have led to the failure of his own marriage, leading him to go to England in the first place to give his wife space, but through it all there is a constant theme of self-improvement and support through the entire show. As the season goes on, we see characters change into their best versions of themselves. There are no real villains within AFC Richmond, just people who hadn’t truly believed in themselves until now, Ted included. His own struggles with whether he is a good husband and father continually plague him, despite what his constant wisecracking may suggest. Coming to an acceptance about the nature of family and his own sometimes self-destructive traits, we see Ted self-actualize along with everyone else in the show. As Ted teaches the players to be better men, he becomes one himself.

“Ted Lasso” proved to be the dosage of hope that we needed each week through the pandemic in its initial run. The massive popularity of the show garnered it 20 Emmy nominations, making it the breakout show for Apple’s nascent streaming service. Now with the second season, which premiered July 2021 and ran through October 2021, there is no one left to be convinced of Ted’s philosophy. As the world started seeing some hope with the arrival of mass vaccination, it seemed perhaps AFC Richmond could also move quickly with its newfound optimistic energy. But alas, just as we have all had to deal with our own mental health after being suddenly thrust back into society, the characters on “Ted Lasso” face their own emotional turmoil.

While a show centered around the good within all of us may seem to have no conflict, especially now that Ted has wormed his way into the hearts of all, the true value of the new storyline is in its focus on mental health. Ted’s constant positivity starts to have more questions pointed towards it as Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles) becomes the team’s new psychologist, and the deep-seated insecurities that all have become more apparent. As the cast navigates loss, anxiety, self-loathing and self-worth, a deeper understanding of the main theme of the show emerges. 

The show seems to posit that while constant optimism and uplift can be supportive, it’s not the only way to help people. Sometimes the best thing we can do to help others is to take care of ourselves. While it may be easy right now to shut everything out as we all deal with the trauma this pandemic has given us, sometimes opening up can be the right way forward. Rather than grinning and bearing it, an occasional acknowledgement of our own state can perhaps be the most beneficial thing we can do for ourselves and others. While “Ted Lasso” will not be on the air again for quite some time, the lessons it imparts are well worth remembering. 

“Ted Lasso” is streaming on Apple TV+.