Apple TV+s Ted Lasso is the ray of sunshine you need in your life


Image: Apple TV+

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In the second episode of his eponymous Apple TV+ series, Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) brings his new boss a box of cookies. It’s a tiny gesture (literally, since the box is barely bigger than a Twinkie), and one that the deeply skeptical Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) declines at first. But she’s curious, so she tries one. Then another. And another. Turns out they’re incredible. 

By the middle of the episode, “Biscuits With the Boss” has become an established daily ritual, a regular dose of sweetness that Rebecca gets to look forward to, no matter how sour the rest of her life has become. And Ted Lasso, the show, has come that much closer to becoming the very same for its viewers. 

There are worse things to believe in than the idea that although the world might be crap, sometimes the people in it are not.

If you’ve not yet had the pleasure of trying Ted Lasso, there’s no time like the present. With the Season 1 finale dropping this Friday, Oct. 2, you can spend today getting caught up — or spend the weekend binge-watching all 10 half-hour episodes in one sitting. Take it from someone who did just that when the entire season was made available for critics in August: It’s an excellent use of your time, if you’re in need of something to make you feel a bit better about the world for a little while. And who isn’t, in 2020?

Granted, Ted Lasso, like Ted himself, arrived on the scene with dubious qualifications. It’s an adaptation of, of all things, a TV commercial. Specifically, a series of NBC Sports promos from the early 2010s that had Sudeikis playing a clueless American football coach who gets a job coaching British football (i.e., soccer), despite his lack of understanding of even the basic rules of the sport. The Apple TV+ version retains the same basic premise, as well as Sudeikis as Ted and Brendan Hunt as Assistant Coach Beard (both are also credited as co-creators, along with Joe Kelly of Detroiters and Bill Lawrence of Scrubs).

It mines some very funny jokes from Ted’s total unfamiliarity with with both football and British culture in general — do not get this man started on tea — and spins narrative yarn from the obvious question of why Ted would be hired in the first place. To that, it adds a top-notch ensemble cast that includes Juno Temple as Keeley, a confident WAG; Nick Mohammed as Nathan, the team’s perpetually overlooked equipment manager; Brett Goldstein as Roy, a grouchy aging football star; and Phil Dunster as Jamie, the team’s bratty star player. 

Apple TV+'s 'Ted Lasso' is the ray of sunshine you need in your life

But what takes Ted Lasso from an amusing distraction about an idiot American to one of the most lovable new shows of 2020 is its enormous heart. In its stubborn belief that compassion and generosity can change the world for the better, Ted Lasso feels almost like a reverse Schitt’s Creek, or a more light-hearted Friday Night Lights. As with those shows, Ted Lasso‘s gentleness feels all the more moving because it feels earned. It’s not so sunny that it refuses to acknowledge the shadows; indeed, Ted admits at one point that his relentless optimism is driving his wife away. But he, and the show, presses on anyway with the mission of spreading joy and warmth. And bit by bit, Ted starts to see those qualities reflected back at him.

Sure, Ted Lasso is a fantasy. You will not be surprised to hear that our well-intentioned protagonist, who needed the scoring system explained to him in the first episode, proves to be a surprisingly decent coach by the the middle of the season, largely because he’s just so great at handling people. You might be surprised to hear that this coach is so nice, he professes to not caring all that much about winning or losing. None of this would make a lick of sense on a real professional team, and no doubt some sports fans are gritting their teeth at the absurdity of it all.

But speaking as a TV fan, there are worse things to believe in than the idea that although the world might be crap, sometimes the people in it are not. Sometimes they stand up for you against an evil ex, or show up in the middle of the night to help you break an ancient curse, or bring you cookies without being asked just because you know you’ll enjoy them. Sometimes, it’s just nice to to remember that kindness can make a difference — that others can be kind to you, and that you can be kind to them in turn. 

Ted Lasso is now streaming on Apple TV+