TL;DR – Heart-warming and sincere without ever being saccharine.
Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this episode.
Ted Lasso Review –
When I first got Apple TV+ for Foundation, I knew that I would probably take the chance to check out what else was there because nothing had called me before. Well, if I was going to start somewhere, I thought I might as well go with the series that just obliterated the Emmys. However, I went in with a thought that it could never live up to all the hype … I was wrong, it could, and it did.
So to set the scene, Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) is working as an NFL coach in America. He led the Wichita State Shockers to a Division II NCAA championship, an impressive feat. While that win put him on the radar of several NFL clubs in America, an offer right out of left field caught his attention. Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) was the new owner of AFC Richmond, an English Premier League Football club, and she offered him the job of team manager. Ted jumps at the chance and brings along his coaching partner, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), all the way over to London only to get thrown in the deep end and demolished by the press like Trent Crimm for The Independent (James Lance). However, he soon finds his feet. Unfortunately for Ted, Rebecca got the team from her ex-husband Rupert (Anthony Head) in the divorce, but she has no intention of letting it thrive. She wanted the one thing her husband truly cared about to go down in flames. Now we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
Ted Lasso works as well as it did because Ted’s sincerity is 100% genuine. It is not a front. It is not a façade or even a ruse. It is who he is, and that charm and goodwill are both infectious and completely captivating. He walks the streets, eats in the pub, and convinces people of who he is one step at a time. He breaks through to Rebecca, slowly over time, but in a way where she never loses her agency, which is the usual norm. That moment of forgiveness in the ending would have felt insincere or even a cop-out in any other situation, but here you believe it because you believe that is what Ted would do, which makes those few moments when his sincerity fails him all the more devastating. He could not save his marriage for all his kindness, and he is so concerned for Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) that it almost ruins the team. Ted is not infallible, which makes him human, just a generally nice one.
While Ted might be the namesake of the show, everywhere you look, there are wonderful performances. We get to see Nate (Nick Mohammed) find his confidence and place in the team as an assistant coach, Leslie Higgins (Jeremy Swift) goes from being an accomplice to being the moral cornerstone, and Coach Beard, well, I can’t really get a read on him, but he fascinates me. Then you have the old warhorse, powered almost purely by aggression in Roy, who realises that his playing days are coming to an end, and what do you do when that is all you have ever done. On the flip side, there is Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster), a self-absorbed brat that has been blessed with the boot of legend. But a team is more than just one player, a lesson it takes him all season to learn, with tragic consequences.
The two people that intrigued me the most was the combo team of Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) and Rebecca. Keeley is first introduced as someone fitting into the ephemeral role of dating one of the players. She is famous for almost being famous, and most people would discount her as just that. But she is just as compassionate and caring as anyone else, but more than that, she knows her world like no one else. More than Ted, Keeley is the person Rebecca needs in her life to help her discover that there is more than her self-worth than screwing over her ex (even if he is just the worst person in the world). Rebecca also has one of the best arcs this season, starting as the evil antagonist that Ted does not even know he has, a bit of knowledge that only we, the audience, know. But throughout the season, she finds herself, and she shifts but without losing herself.
If I had to nitpick, there were many supporting characters like Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh) that felt like they needed a bit more character development throughout the season. Also, in some of the big matches, you can see just how much the budget could be stretched. None of these are significant issues, but they are there.
In the end, do we recommend Ted Lasso Season One? Absolutely. This season made me laugh and also cry on at least two different occasions. Heck, it even made me care about football/soccer for a spell, and any show that can do that is worth checking out. Also, I deeply respect a good callback gag, even if it takes all season.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Ted Lasso
Directed by – Tom Marshall, Zach Braff, Tom Marshall, Elliot Hegarty, Declan Lowney & MJ Delaney
Written by – Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt, Joe Kelly, Jane Becker, Jamie Lee, Brett Goldstein, Bill Wrubel, Leann Bowen & Phoebe Walsh
Developed by – Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt & Joe Kelly
Based On – Format and characters from NBC Sports
Production/Distribution Companies – Ruby’s Tuna Inc., Doozer, Universal Television, Warner Bros. Television Studios & Apple TV+
Starring – Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Jeremy Swift, Phil Dunster, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed & Juno Temple with Toheeb Jimoh, James Lance, Annette Badland, Adam Colborne, Bronson Webb, Kevin Garry, Stephen Manas, Billy Harris, Kola Bokinni, Moe Jeudy-Lamour, Jimmy Akingbola, Anthony Head, Keeley Hazell, Phoebe Walsh, Andrea Anders, Ellie Taylor, Elodie Blomfield, Charlie Hiscock, Arlo White & Chris Powell
Episodes Covered – Pilot, Biscuits, Trent Crimm: The Independent, For the Children, Tan Lines, Two Aces, Make Rebecca Great Again, The Diamond Dogs, All Apologies & The Hope that Kills You