Impressions: Ted Lasso

So this is a break from our holiday-related Impressions (although I will attempt to bring it around), and this show is certainly different from what I normally write about. However, and probably related to my dad being a coach, I will have the occasional soft spot for sports-related shows and movies. It is not often, but when I do find one I am curious about, I almost always enjoy it. I went through a few phases in seeing ads for this show (I had not known that it was a previously used character) but eventually came around to curiosity, then watching the entire thing in an embarrassingly short amount of time. So despite this not being my normal fare, here is why you should consider watching Ted Lasso.

Ted Lasso is a character that Jason Sudeikis originally played to advertise NBC starting to the Premier League. In the show, he is an American football coach who took a losing college football team to stardom through his less than conventional methods and a belief that being a good coach and guiding his team to being better people is more important than his record. He is hired by Rebecca Welton, a recent divorcee who won the UK football team, AFC Richmond, in her divorce.

Ted is seemingly brought in because he is considered inspiring, and Richmond has always been “average,” and he might boost it to something more. However, it is revealed that Rebecca is setting him up for failure, hoping to destroy what she states many times was the only thing her ex ever cared about, the team.

My hesitation with the show lay in the fact that I didn’t want to watch a show about a bumbling but well-meaning fool who didn’t know what he was doing, and is again set up to fail. But honestly, my expectations of that are more due to a failure of some of the early commercials instead of the show itself.

Ted Lasso seems a bumbling but well-meaning fool, but he is not. He is actually a rather smart man with an extreme drive and passion. His not caring about his record is something that bothers people but is not the weakness people see it as. He truly intends to develop the players and the entirety of what he sees as his team to be the best they can on and off the field, which often comes with success.

He is really an amazing character with a great capacity for caring and an ability to reach not only players but all around him (including the audience, I softened over time the same way they did). At one point, he questions a writer about what is the thing he loves most (writing), and Ted says he knows because the writer is so good at it. Ted then says the thing he loves the most is being a coach. That is sort of the crux of this show; the belief that Ted being who he is and inspiring the way he does is what makes him, and most people, good coaches, not knowledge of the game. Now I think that is an oversimplification, but it’s a great message. It is then taken further to him being more than a coach but someone who changes people’s lives.

Ted knows people underestimate him and doesn’t care. He is passionate about doing right by his players and will go to the ends to do so.

However, the show does balance this optimism, so it’s not so in your face. More than once, Ted’s not caring about losing is pointed out as being a bad quality in the world of professional sports. These aren’t kids in college it’s their lives. And the harsh truth is his lack of knowledge of the sport does hurt him. Not only in his ability to coach specifically but also in the lack of faith that other people have in him. He has to spend more time building trust than building up the team. The show never slaps you down too hard, it’s a positive message overall, but it is not all good. Bittersweet.

There are certain realities that the show presents everyone with, and they come with struggles and failures. I think this is a good thing. Often when media picks an overly positive message, it can weaken the impact because of the lack of realism. Not to say the show is realistic, it’s not, but the positive messages are able to stick just a little more because there is a touch of grimness around them.

And speaking of grim, Rebecca. Once I realized we weren’t meant to laugh at Ted, I really wanted to hate Rebecca. She is vindictive and is out to destroy something that is the livelihood of many people. She is callous, cruel, and rejects Ted’s, and many others, attempts to show her real caring. But she is not simply the ex-wife of a cheater (although that is pretty bad) but also an emotionally neglectful and manipulative man. She truly struggles at times with what she is doing but still hesitates at stopping. Watching her develop and cling to her anger while others reach out makes her… sympathetic. She is hurt and scared. Every time I got angry with her, something would happen to show just how trampled on she was, and suddenly I felt for her. That is not an excuse for what she does, a lot of bad things, but she is a remarkable character who develops in great ways.

In fact, this is a highlight of the show overall—character development. For instance, Issac is more of a background character, but he manages to develop through the course of 10 episodes with little attention or dialogue. The show encourages you to watch what everyone is doing, and he goes from a bully to a future leader of the team in some amazing, subtle, but clever ways.

The bulk of the cast (even many of the supporting cast) develops at least a little bit throughout the show. Some of it falls a bit into tropes, but none of it is bad. It was nice to watch Ted’s message of being a good influence and helping them be a thread throughout, even with everything else happening, especially in the cases where it was less in your face.

I ended season one completely hooked. It is not the best show I have seen, and a lot of the humor is… subtle (like Ted’s coaching style), and more than a little of it is pretty safe. However, it is a well-acted show with great jokes, a solid story, and a good message. I mentioned in the intro, somehow forcing this into holiday Impressions, and here it is. If you believe the holidays are about being together and warm and positive feelings, then this show that has nothing to do with any holiday nails that pretty solidly. Alright… a stretch, but. I also think that the message is kind of nice this year. I get it we are all fatigued, so I won’t drone on too long, only to say it helped a little with my 2020 fatigue.

Bottom line. This show is both hard to recommend and not. It simply will not do for everybody, again relatively safe, and the sports theme will be a turnoff. However, there is so much good happening, and I don’t think you need to have much care for sports to enjoy it. I am really looking forward to more and am so glad I gave it a chance. I think others might be too if they do watch.

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