"Although Ted Lasso focuses primarily on the story of struggling English Premier League team AFC Richmond, the show is about so much more than just football"Kane Brooker/Flickr

Ostensibly, Ted Lasso is a show about football. Given that I’ve never been much of a fan of sports, I was surprised when my Dad recommended that I watch it. I was even more surprised when, heart pounding, I found myself biting my nails in anticipation and excitement over a crucial penalty shootout ten episodes later.

Although Ted Lasso focuses primarily on the story of struggling English Premier League team AFC Richmond, the show is about so much more than just football. Available on Apple TV +, the comedy follows the story of its titular character Ted, played by Jason Sudeikis (Saturday Night Live), an unprecedentedly optimistic coach of college-level American football from Kansas City, USA.

Ted is recruited by the club’s new owner Rebecca Welton, played by Hannah Waddingham, who, after a messy divorce from her charismatic unfaithful billionaire ex-husband, is determined to even the score. Ted, while enthusiastic, has never played association football before in his life and knows little about the sport.

Aware of this, Rebecca harbours a passionate desire to use Ted to destroy the only thing her ex-husband ever loved: his precious football club. Personally, I feel that Ted’s inexperience coupled with his unshakeable determinism to look for the best in people is what makes the show such a joy to watch. Witnessing Ted unknowingly foil Rebecca’s every attempt to sabotage the club remains hilarious despite being predictable.

The humour in the show speaks to its viewers, especially in the wake of a year that has been filled with tragedy and depressing news. The provision of a character whose sheer gusto for life and determination to enjoy it, despite its hardships, makes Ted Lasso refreshing and heartening. Ted, who is initially referred to as “wanker” by the Richmond football supporters, manages to win the hostile Richmond football team to his side and, by extension, the hearts of the audience.

It’s rare to find a show that my roommate, boyfriend, Dad and I can all agree on, but Ted Lasso truly does have something for everyone, ranging from female friendships to honest and surprising character arcs, and truly reflective and poignant personal moments. It truly is a show that ticks all the boxes.

“The reimagining of these stereotypes furnishes the show with believable, flawed, and multi-layered characters.”

With impressive names such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer actor Anthony Head and celebrated English comedian Ellie Taylor playing mere supporting roles, you can be assured that the main cast are on the ball! The strong ensemble cast allow for the full realisation of superficially cliched characters, including, and not limited to Sudeikis, Waddingham, Juno Temple and Brett Goldstein. The reimagining of the stereotypical corny coach, jilted lover, footballer’s girlfriend, and jaded has-been furnishes the show with believable, flawed, and multi-layered characters which are amplified by their actors.

However, it is indisputable that Sudeikis as Ted carries the show, bringing a sadness and intricacy to his character that gives him depth far beyond the cheery, likeable façade of ‘Coach Ted’, and truly proves that his talents as an actor extend far beyond the two-dimensional comic parts that initiated his career. Indeed, the ‘fish out of water’ premise is hardly unique, and granted there are moments where the ‘it’s not the winning, but the taking part that counts’ adage is laboured to a painful degree.

However, the series as a whole is welcoming, sweet and heart-warming without neglecting its serious aspects. Themes of conflict are just as dominant and considerately explored as football, with two of the main characters experiencing painful divorces and struggling to establish themselves in their newly single identities.

With the arguably unassuming title of Ted Lasso, it has no right being as funny and entertaining as it is. Yet I was pleasantly surprised by how well this witty comedy looks at the divide between English and American cultural attitudes and the hilarity that ensues as, despite their better judgment, the Richmond football team begins to like the often comically optimistic Ted.

There are a few cliched moments (particularly the Karaoke rendition of Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’ which the show definitely could have survived without), but if you are willing to look past these, and to make your peace with some of the more stereotypical football characters, watching Ted Lasso truly is the comforting TV hug we’ve all been craving recently.

Surprisingly delightful, this show not only serves to make the otherwise completely useless Apple TV+ subscription somewhat agreeable, but it also serves to make the idea of watching football (albeit fictional) not quite so unpalatable after all. After spending years being baffled by my Dad’s obsession with watching Premier League games, beer in hand, spittle uncontrollably flying at the TV set as he demanded justice from the referee, I never really appreciated football before.

But surprisingly as the series progressed, although still not a football fan, I developed a respect for the dedication and commitment required of professional footballers, and the sheer love and loyalty the supporters give to their respective home teams. The show’s fictional critic, Trent Crimm, is bent on writing the most damning profile on the inexperienced Ted as he possibly can from the get go. However, after spending a day in his company Crimm espouses: “Whatever you think of Ted Lasso [...] I can’t help but root for him.”


Mountain View

Playing To Win

Try as I might to despise his unwavering, chatty positivity, funnily enough I couldn’t help rooting for Ted either. Season Two, not far from kick off, promises to be just as heart-warming, thrilling and genuinely enjoyable.