Ted Lasso is a sports comedy-drama about an American college football coach hired to coach an English Soccer Team even though he doesn’t understand the game.
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Ted Lasso is a sports comedy-drama about a small-time American college football coach from Kansas hired to coach a premier English soccer team, AFC Richmond, even though he has no experience with the game. Ted Lasso arrives in England and finds himself completely out of his depth. But his endless optimism and, at times, naivety sustain him while he slowly charms those around him.
Jason Sudeikis is Ted Lasso and created the character, along with Brendan Hunt. He is the driving force behind the show. Jason Sudeikis developed his skills by creating characters and impersonating famous people on Saturday Night Live. This show has quickly become a sensation and a big hit.
There is something more to Ted, a depth to him. There is an honesty and decency about him that is refreshing and often rare these days. He is infectiously optimistic, which can be exasperating at times, but slowly it disarms his detractors.
Being set up to Fail
Not only does nobody think he will succeed, but from the very start, his new boss, Rebecca Welton, wants Ted Lasso to fail and is undermining him.
Rebecca Welton thrusts Ted into a press conference, completely unprepared, on his first day. She assumes he will make a fool of himself, and then the media will tear him to shreds. While the fans watching the press conference dislike the inexperienced American immediately and call him belittling names. The team players are also unimpressed with Ted and do not respect him.
The Ted Lasso Way
We first hear the expression – The lasso Way when Rebecca Welton uses the term at the press conference on Ted’s first day. However, when she says it, she fully expects Ted to fail spectacularly.
The Ted Lasso Way encapsulates his overall approach and beliefs.
- Connect with people.
- Winning is not everything.
- Be Curious, Not Judgemental.
- Embrace Change.
Connect with and Value People
In the second episode, we see Ted make inroads into his new environment when he brings a small box of shortbread biscuits for his boss, Rebecca. She doesn’t initially want them until she tastes one and finds them delicious.
They become a regular morning delivery and provide an insight into how Ted Lasso deals with people. He focuses on small details and breaks down the barriers. Ted connects with people on a very personal level and continually builds relationships. He has empathy and displays a genuine interest in people.
Winning is not everything
Ted Lasso believes that winning is not everything. Instead, he believes that personal development is more important than winning.
He believes people should be the best versions of themselves.
Ted may not understand soccer, but he understands team building, and he understands and relates to people. So Ted Lasso tells Trent Crimm from the Independent:
“For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It is about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field.”
It is a high-risk approach because winning is everything in a premier league, and staying on as coach depends on it.
We gain more insight into the Ted Lasso approach to life, and hope is at its core. In the locker room, Ted Lasso puts a sign above his door that says Believe. Yet, throughout the early episodes, it remains crooked, an analogy for the team’s disunity.
He gives a speech to the team about believing to motivate them before a game. Ted challenges a well-known pessimistic saying amongst football fans – “It’s the hope that kills you.” He disagrees with this saying:
“I think it’s the lack of hope that comes and gets you.
See, I believe in hope. I believe in belief.
Now, where I’m from, we got a saying too. A question, actually.”
“Do you believe in miracles?”
Be Curious, Not Judgemental
Ted Lasso gives a powerful speech in the local pub. He reveals that:
“Guys have underestimated me my entire life. And for years, I never understood why. It used to really bother me. But then one day, I was driving my little boy to school, and I saw this quote by Walt Whitman, and it was painted on the wall there. It said, ‘Be curious, not judgmental.’ I like that.”
He realises those people thought they had worked everything out and worked people out, so they judged everything and everyone. So, in life, be curious and ask questions. Take the time to find out about things and people.
Ted Lasso gives the team a rousing speech at halftime.
“Most of the time, change is a good thing. Now, I think that’s what it’s all about. Embracing change. Being brave. Doing whatever you have to, so that everyone in your life can move forward with theirs.”
He understands that change doesn’t mean that things instantly get better. And it is when results are not forthcoming that change is most challenging. So he gives another of his great pep talks on this:
“Fairy tales do not start nor do they end in the dark forest. That son of a gun always shows up smack dab in the middle of a story. But it will all work out. Now it may not work out how you think it will or how you hope it does, but believe me it will all work out, exactly as it’s supposed to.”
Ted Lasso has a Panic Attack
However, behind the always positive presence that is Ted Lasso, his personal life is unravelling. We learn the real reason that Ted accepted the job in England. He is trying to save his marriage by giving his wife a break and allowing her some space. When she visits with their young son, Ted acknowledges the reality and accepts it’s over.
The team finally wins a match away from home and celebrates that evening at a Karaoke Bar. But, amid the celebration, Ted’s resilience begins to crumble as he encounters the final moments of his marriage and family. Then, when pressured to sign the divorce papers, he experiences a panic attack. In a touching scene, Rebecca arrives and offers support.
By season 2, most of the football club has come around to Ted Lasso. However, an unfortunate incident throws one of the outstanding players off his game, and they bring a sports psychologist in to help. None of his charms or mannerism work on her, though she has immediate success with the player. Ted is at a loss about what to do and becomes quite rattled by her.
Coach Beard is an Enigma
Coach Beard is an enigma in the show, a man of mystery. They have not revealed his first name in the first two seasons.
Brendan Hunt plays the assistant Coach Beard, right-hand man and best friend of Ted Lasso. Brendan Hunt is closely associated with Jason Sudeikis and is the co-creator and writer of the show. He uses many of his life experiences in the character and the series. His reserved and stoic performance counterbalances the more hyper one delivered by Jason Sudeikis.
His loyalty is unquestioned, and he is always ready to offer an explanation or fact on numerous occasions when Ted is lacking. Coach Beard is well-read and can be observed often with a book at his desk. He is quiet and reserved yet observant, taking in all around him.
Coach Beards steps out of the sidelines and is front and centre in the contentious season 2 episode – Beard After Hours, based on the Martin Scorsese 1985 film – After Hours. This episode drastically deviates from the typical style of a Ted Lasso episode to explore the private side and character of Coach Beard. It is part of two stand-alone episodes ordered by Apple, above the original ten, the other being the Christmas episode.
After the semi-final defeat, Coach Beard sets out on an all-night odyssey through the back streets of London. The result is a darker episode, a kind of ‘dark night’ of the soul for Coach Beard. Then with inspiration from a Burning Man poster seen in Beard’s apartment, a euphoric dance floor scene concludes the journey.
The Other Characters
Rebecca Welton, played by Hannah Waddingham, is the new owner of Richmond Football Club. Rebecca is a bitter divorcee, previously married to the former owner. Initially, she appears cold and vindictive, but cracks appear, and a more vulnerable, likeable person emerges.
While Ted Lasso delivers all the great quotes in this article, Rebecca tells Ted that there’s a great saying in Dutch football.
‘Every disadvantage has its advantage.’
While he doesn’t know the game of soccer, which is a disadvantage, he sees the game differently, which can be an advantage.
Juno Temple is Keeley Jones, the model girlfriend of the star footballer. However, there is more to her than it first appears, and she is one of the first to connect with Ted. She builds a strong relationship with Rebecca, who respects her raw honesty and ambition.
Brett Goldstein plays Roy Kent, the captain and an athlete past his prime, and this story is one of the more confronting moments in the show. He delivers a stoic performance of a proud man who hides his feelings, except for anger. Brett Goldstein is multi-talented, initially hired as a writer on the show and then cast as Roy. He has won awards for this role.
Like Cobra Kai, Ted Lasso is a highly motivational sport-themed show with a broad appeal.
An outstanding first season focuses on Ted and his relationship with the team. The second season moves at a different pace and explores the other main characters, including Couch Beard.
Ted Lasso is on Apple TV. Season 3 has just finished filming.
Frequently Asked Questions
What books does Coach Beard read?
- Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics – Jonathan Wilson
- Entangled Life – Merlin Sheldrake
- Coaching Soccer for Dummies
- The Greatest: The Quest for Sporting Perfection – Matthew Syed
- Football Against the Enemy – Simon Kuper
- Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby
- About a Boy – Nick Hornby
Did Walt Whitman say ‘Be curious, not judgemental’?
No, it appears to be a common misquote. Several sites online are quoting English Professors who are familiar with Whitmans’ works who say that the quote is not his. The quote’s source appears unknown and dates back to the seventies.
Who originally said Rebecca’s quote – ‘Every disadvantage has its advantage’?
Famous Dutch Soccer coach and player, Johan Cruyff.