Josh Reviews Ted Lasso Season One!
In the Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso, Jason Sudeikis stars as the incredibly up-beat Ted Lasso, an American football coach who, improbably, winds up coaching an English Premiere League football (what Americans call soccer) team. I remember seeing lots of ads for Ted Lasso when the series launched several months back. From the ads, this looked to me like a dumb show about an idiot American, and I wasn’t interested. Having seen it now, I can’t believe what a poor job those ads did of conveying what this excellent show is all about!! Jason Sudeikis, working with Bill Lawrence (mastermind behind the wonderful comedy Scrubs), Joe Kelly, and Brendan Hunt, took Mr. Sudeikis’ silly commercial character and turned him into the basis for one of the best new TV comedies I’ve seen in years. The show is absolutely hilarious; but what makes it great is how soulful it is too, and how joyful. I absolutely loved this first season of Ted Lasso.
The key to Ted Lasso is that the show is very funny and also joyously warm and upbeat. Very few shows can strike that balance. (I’m reminded of the great Parks and Rec and The Good Place.) I love how life-affirming Ted Lasso is. To be able to be so upbeat and positive, and also very funny at the same time, is extraordinarily difficult.
The show can also, at times, be sad! That’s because the characters on the show aren’t one-dimensional cliches. Over the course of these ten episodes, they succeeded in developing these characters into real, multi-layered people. Again, talk about difficult!! To create characters who can be super-funny AND also have true dramatic weight is a feat that few TV shows can pull off.
Mr. Sudeikis is absolutely perfect in the leading role. In the hands of a lesser actor, the perpetually perky Ted Lasso could easily have been annoying. But Mr. Sudeikis is able to add enough shadings to Ted to make him endearing. The ads for this show made me think that the show would be making fun of Ted. That he’d be the idiot, oblivious American in over his head. (Indeed, having gone back now and watched those early commercials for NBC Sports, which is where Ted originated, that was the approach.) But the series, wisely, took a different angle. Ted isn’t a bumbling idiot. As the episodes progress, we see that there is a method to his madness, and that his caring, positive approach to coaching — and to living his life — just might be brilliant. It’s certainly aspirational, at least to me. I loved that about the show, and about this character.
Ted Lasso is a show in which I almost immediately fell in love with every single one of the main characters. Brendan Hunt stole scene after scene as the quiet Coach Beard, Ted’s right-hand-man. His Doc Brown impersonation was amazing!! Hannah Waddingham (the “shame!” nun from Game of Thrones) was terrific as team owner Rebecca Welton. There are times in the show when we’re supposed to dislike Rebecca, and times when we’re supposed to deeply like and root for her; Ms. Waddingham is able to beautifully play both aspects of the character. Jeremy Swift is wonderful as Rebecca’s sweet and unassuming assistant Leslie. Phil Dunster is perfect as the hot arrogant young super-star Jamie Tartt, as is Brett Goldstein as aging veteran Roy Ken. Nick Mohammed is a hoot as Nathan Shelle, the team’s smart but shy kit man who flourishes under Ted Lasso’s influence. Finally there is Juno Temple, who is spectacular as model and influencer Keeley Jones, who we first meet on the show because she’s dating Jamie Tartt. I’ve enjoyed Ms. Temple’s work for years (Killer Joe, Black Mass, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), but she is next-level good on this show. She’s probably the character who goes on the most interesting journey over these ten episodes. I wasn’t expecting that!
Ted Lasso was one of my very favorite TV series of 2020. I’m so glad I saw it, and I am now evangelical about this show! I can’t wait for season two!
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