Craig O'Daniel • Contributing Writer
Trust me when I say no one saw Ted Lasso coming.
When I say no one, I mean no one in this world where “Ted Lasso” is sweeping television award shows; Nor in this fictional world where Lasso’s unavoidable charm spreads throughout London gathering followers like Gandhi with a southern accent.
Although I imagine production began long before the struggle that was 2020, it couldn’t have been more kismet for what we all needed -- a light-hearted embodiment of optimism and walking smile that is Ted Lasso.
The first season premiered on Apple TV+ in August 2020. As the global pandemic raged outside, a lot of viewers were looking to screens for a fleeting moment of happiness.
“Ted Lasso” manages to score a visceral happiness overload in every episode. The show follows a small soccer club in a suburb of London called AFC Richmond. Rebecca Welton has just taken over as owner of her ex-husband’s beloved soccer club.
Her plan was to ruin the team by hiring a loud-mouth American coach who knows nothing about soccer. Lasso fits this description, as you quickly realize he is learning the rules of the game on the job.
Luckily, he brought his favorite assistant coach, the omniscient Coach Beard, to whisper rules of the game. Lasso is clearly faking it until he makes it, but eventually he converts Welton and the team’s staff to disciples with his unflinching optimism and incredible knack for team building.
After only a few episodes, you will find yourself rooting for this underdog team with as much fervor as the red and blue draped fans in the local pub. Ex-SNL alum Jason Sudeikis brings us this character from a past skit created as promos for NBC Sports.
The ads were to promote NBC’s coverage of English Premier League soccer and introduced the lovable, unsuspecting American football coach tasked with leading a British soccer team. This unconventional premise for a show surprised viewers and critics with its impeccable writing and fully realized supporting characters.
You care about everyone, including the characters who see the world completely opposite of Lasso. The unassuming Higgins, played by Jeremy Swift, straddles both worlds of Lasso and Welton.
He longs to hang with the guys in the locker room and listen to Lasso and his trusty sidekick, the beard wax poetic about sports. The unabashed playboy superstar player, Jamie Tart, played by British actor Phil Dunster, is the closest thing we have to an antagonist in the first season. His contempt for Lasso puts him at odds with most everyone else.
Many underdog sports teams have graced our screens in the past. “Ted Lasso” stands out for its witty writing and comedic timing blended with the classic uplifting moments that the genre provides.
Roy Kent plays the surly veteran soccer player whose pessimistic outlook drives
his every decision. Kent is struggling to stay relevant in a world increasingly dominated by the Jamie Tarts of the sport.
Sudeikis is all at once expertly comedically timed while revealing the chink in his armor, his estranged relationship with his wife.
He can come off early in the series as impossibly perfect, but as you see his struggles with giving his wife space, missing his young son, and dealing with the pressures of being a public figure, he becomes relatable.
It is no surprise to me that there are business seminars popping up around the country that are “Ted Lasso” Themed. America needs some coaching to be a good team player again, and I can’t think of a better example.