UPDATE 20th September:
I've watched 8 episodes now and just wanted to add a couple of things:

  1. Ted Lasso continues to get better. It’s such wonderfully heart warming show, funny show with great characters that is the perfect antidote to the hellfire that is 2020. I genuinely look forward to Fridays each week to watch it.
  2. I think this might be Apple TV+’s first actual hit. Sure, the Morning Show had a lot of buzz at the beginning but this is the first show that, week to week, I hear people say “Have you seen Ted Lasso? Oh you must watch it, it’s so good”. I also actually talk to people about the characters (“Nate is my favourite”/“Jamie Tart is a twat”/“I would listen to a podcast with Beard and Ted just talking”). This is the first time I’ve seen it for an Apple TV+ show and it’s well deserved.

There’s a quote at the end of episode 3 of Ted Lasso, the latest series for Apple TV+, that essentially sums up the whole series. (or at least the first 3 episodes) “...And though I believe Ted Lasso will fail here, and Richmond will suffer the embarrassment of relegation, I won’t gloat when it happens. Because I can’t help but root for him.”

This, essentially, is the series in a nutshell. From a football perspective, you have to wonder how he’s even getting the team to play considering he knows nothing about the sport, there seems to be no coaching staff and he doesn’t even know what offside is. Surely this team is going to fail, and fail quickly. If you were looking for a show that told some gritty, true to life tales from behind the scenes at a football club, this is not it. It’s quite unrealistic.

But that doesn’t matter. That is not what the show is about, and it’s quick in making that clear. What the show is is a story about flawed and scared people who are often hiding (sometimes literally in the case of kit-boy Nate) behind masks of over-confidence, aggression, arrogance and more.

Ted is there to bring the best out of them, win or lose. It’s kind of an age-old format really, one that’s been done many, many times. But ‘Ted Lasso’ does it with such ease and comfort, it’s a real joy to watch.

Sudeikis has sometimes struggled to find a role that fits him, being both a good actor and someone who looks like he’s always about to deliver a joke (likely a good one). Ted Lasso, co-created by him, suits him perfectly. His delivery of the material is perfect and elicits a lot of laughs, even with some slightly easy jokes. There’s a scene at the end of the first episode which hints at some reason why he took the job that abruptly switches to quite a heart-rending tone and Sudeikis sells it perfectly. While in the rest of the first three episodes he is super-humanly mild-mannered, ‘inspiring’ and cracking jokes, this scene is excellent and I hope to see more going forward.

The character, as you know, started as an extended NBC promotion for the British Premier League and they’ve done well to fill out the rest of the show from that point. There are some very easy satires from the posing pretty-boy player, the mature psycho, the over-friendly African player (which is probably the worst element of the show in its aged stereotype) and the WAG. But as with the rest of the show, it sells them with ease, even as it goes into a couple of predictable developments used to add depth to the characters (guess what, the psycho is a very sweet and supportive Uncle!)

There’s also (refreshingly for a Football show) a couple of female characters who are probably the best written.

The club’s tough as nails owner is, of course, hiding some vulnerabilities from a recent divorce from her endlessly cheating husband but the show doesn’t focus on that as the only thing about her. She’s a fully rounded character. More so than probably any other.

Then there’s the ‘WAG’ who Ted makes an instant connection with due to how smart she is (more than any other character on the show). Again, it’s an easy character but the show writes her properly and adds more to her than just an ‘influencer girlfriend’. Although she seems so smart that you have to wonder why she’s with the pretty boy since he’s a completely selfish ‘wanker’. Maybe we’ll find out later. Juno Temple is also a great actress, which doesn’t hurt.

That’s the Ted Lasso way and I’m ready to see more.

The feel-good comedy seems to be a trend with Apple TV+. A show that blends laughs with heartwarming character depth and emotional connections. The excellent ‘Mythic Quest’ started it and was followed by ‘Trying’. Maybe that’s what we need right now? With some of the world looking like a tyre-fire it’s comforting to go into the world of Ted Lasso. A world that’s completely unrealistic but deliberately so. A world with laughs, great characters and storylines you can really invest in. Even if you’ve seen them countless times before. That’s the Ted Lasso way and I’m ready to see more.

Tidbits

Ted’s assistant coach is such a blank slate he’s even called ‘Coach Beard’. At one point he hints he was out late the night before but that’s the only depth we’re getting so far!

Co-creator Bill Lawrence’s old ‘Scrubs’ friend Zach Braff directs episode 2.

The music is done by Mumford & Sons front man Marcus Mumford.

The representation of Britain is pretty well done. No really bad cliches though I spotted that the British reporter calls it a ‘tie’ at one point. It’s called a ‘draw’ here guys!

I enjoyed the fact that when the reporter from The Sun stands up to ask a question the other journalists boo him. The Sun, after all, is complete scum.