In the fifth episode of Ted Lasso, Ted and his wife, Michelle, are trying to save their marriage, but they both realize it’s not going to work. Ted tearfully tells Michelle that she doesn’t have to try anymore even though he promised to never quit anything in his life. Moved by Ted’s words, Michelle says, “But you’re not quitting, Ted. You’re just letting me go.”
I’m watching a show where Jason Sudeikis looks like an extra for Bill Swerski’s Super Fans, and yet I’m emotional and heartbroken over Ted’s failing marriage. What is going on?
To say Ted Lasso caught the world by surprise would be an understatement. When Sudeikis originally did the character in 2013, it was an entertaining skit; nothing more, nothing less. Never in a million years did I believe it could succeed as a television show.
A record 20 Emmy nominations later, and the egg is on my face. I could not have been more wrong about Ted Lasso. It’s a comedy at heart, but it provides so much compassion that my cynicism takes a backseat for 30-minutes at a time.
2020 was a rough year for America. The pandemic kicked our asses, plain and simple. Yet a coach in a mustache and sweater injected more hope into the world than any news program on television. Ted Lasso is a load of fun. However, the fact that it was one of the only positive programs in 2020 aided in its meteoric rise.
When we first meet the new coach, every member of Richmond thinks Ted’s schtick will never work. The team’s fans scream and yell “wanker” at Ted whenever they see him. The team’s captain, Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein, one of the show’s creators), tells Ted to “fuck off” more times than not.
And yet, Ted’s positivity attaches to the team (and the audience at home) like a parasite. Bad attitudes turn into positive thoughts. Ted’s charm wins you over as the series progresses. Even the team’s owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), who hired Ted so the team could fail, appreciates Ted’s humility and emphasizes with him by the Season 1 finale.
Television has been dominated by antiheroes in the 21st century. Tony Soprano, Walter White, Don Draper, and 85% of the characters in The Wire have no idea what it means to be a morally good person. Ted Lasso and his heart fill a much-needed void in television. If done correctly, something as simple as being a good guy can shine, and no one shines brighter than Ted.
In her column for Variety, Caroline Framke said, “Above all odds, Ted Lasso chipped away at my skepticism until there was none left — just like the character himself does to everyone he meets.”
As Ted Lasso begins Season 2, my skepticism has disappeared. It’s time to root for our hero, the good guy.
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