‘Ted Lasso’ brings undying optimism back to sports (and TV)


Jack Hoover

‘Ted Lasso’ is here to make soccer fans smile again. Graphic by Mars Nevada/The Gateway.

2020 has been a bleak year in the world of sports.

This is especially true for European soccer, where almost every league in the continent went dormant for three months as COVID-19 spread around the world. When the leagues did open back up, the familiar atmosphere was missing, as fans had to stay away from the games.

Despite all this bleakness, there exists an alternate reality where things aren’t so bad. A reality where an American football coach can become manager of an English Premier League soccer team. This reality exists in the refreshing, feel-good world of “Ted Lasso.”

“Ted Lasso” is an original show on Apple’s new streaming platform Apple TV. The show follows the titular character (played by Jason Sudekis) as he moves from the only world he’s ever known in Kansas to London. Lasso has been tasked, to the surprise of almost every fan in England, of coaching the fictitious AFC Richmond soccer team.

At first, Ted’s tenure goes exactly the way you might expect an American football coach with no soccer experience to go in the Premier League. Lasso’s team takes embarrassing loss after embarrassing loss, the fans seem to hate him and the players see him as merely a clueless Yank.

However, for all the cynicism and negativity, English soccer has never gone up against Lasso’s undying positivity and belief before. For every obstacle thrown Lasso’s way, (and there are many, both on and off the pitch), Lasso seems to have a clever witticism or folksy story that saves the day.

As a show, “Ted Lasso” won’t throw anything new at you. It may not hit you with any new revelations about life or wow you with incredibly clever writing (in fact, many of the show’s best jokes are ripped from the original NBC Sports promo that the show is based off of). But what the show does, it does well.

“Ted Lasso” is best viewed with an open mind. In the words of Coach Lasso (and also Walt Whitman), one should “be curious, not judgmental.” Based on a snapshot judgment made of the premise of the show, there might be no reason to suggest this show could be any good. But a curious open mind might see just the opposite.

So at the end of the day, will Ted Lasso, the coach, always win soccer games? No, he hardly ever does that.

Will “Ted Lasso,” the show, always have you writhing in laughter constantly? Maybe not all the time.

But will both the coach and the show give you a reason to smile, or a reason to feel just a little bit better about yourself? Yes, quite often. And in times like this, that’s often needed.