2020 was a crapfest. You know it, I know it, we all know it. If you’re lucky, 2021 has gotten off to better start, but speaking personally, 2020 really kind of sucked the life out of me on many levels. I do feel like the worst of it is over (hopefully, anyway) but I resolved a few months ago to be more positive and less cynical, since there is so much nastiness and negativity in the world right now. And what do you know, something to help me with that was hiding on Apple TV+ all along.
I’ll be honest—I forgot I even had Apple TV. I checked it out when I first got the service (it was free when I bought my last iPhone) and there wasn’t much on it except for a filmed version of Mike D and Adam Horovitz ‘s Beastie Boys Story and a lot of pay per view programming. So when I started hearing buzz about a show starring Jason Sudeikis as a fish out of water soccer coach in the UK, it took a while before I realized, Hey! I have that service! And while at first I wasn’t too impressed, I’ll be damned if Ted Lasso didn’t…rope me in. Get it?
Depending on how old you are or if you like to watch old sports comedies, the premise of Ted Lasso will sound quite familiar: A female divorcee inherits her ex-husband’s sports franchise, and tries to sabotage it since it was the only thing the rotten bastard ever loved. Sound familiar? It’s also the plot to the movie Major League, starring Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, and Tom Berenger. While the setup is the same, however, as Lasso progresses it becomes clear that the two really couldn’t be more different.
Ted Lasso is (was) the head coach of the Wichita State Shockers football team. He was adored by players and fans alike, and led his team to a championship. Ted is hired by Rebecca Welton, who acquired the team in the terms of her divorce from her wealthy husband Rupert, and who is intent on running the team into the ground by hiring an American goofus who knows nothing about European Football (soccer), ie, Ted.
Ted has a secret weapon, however. And that weapon is his optimism. Ted answers the most pointed criticism or vile insult with a smile and, if possible, a kind word. His demeanor instantly wins over some, but tends to further agitate most, like the already hostile British fans. This is merely the jumping off point for a show that becomes part workplace comedy, part underdog sports story, and part heart-wrenching drama (albeit to a much lesser degree).
Now, I’ll admit it: Ted Lasso didn’t win me over right off the bat. As a matter of fact, I almost gave up on the show in Episode Two. I stuck with it, though, and by the fifth episode I knew I was all in, as the show managed to surprise me with its range of emotion, showing to true depth of its main character, and in turn, many of the show’s stars. I’ve always liked Jason Sudeikis but never would’ve considered him a “serious actor.” And while I still can’t picture him performing Shakespeare, I still feel like I underestimated him. That’s the thing about this show that’s so remarkable—the show repeatedly exceeds expectations and wins over skeptics, just like the titular character. If you need a dose of optimism and feel-good comedy, I definitely recommend it.