It would be logical that spending a load of money and putting a lot talent in front and behind the camera would spell success for the good folks at Apple. Yet Apple TV+ has been a difficult undertaking and while there has been some compelling programming, the ideal of prestige TV has been elusive. The place where they have succeeded has been in the sitcom space with the quirky and niche Mythic Quest: Raven’s Quest and now Ted Lasso. The latter, Ted Lasso is the perfect antidote for 2020 brimming with quirk its first season has been a revelation of heart and optimism and is a must watch.
Ted Lasso is an American football (Gridiron) coach is recruited to coach an English Football (Soccer) team, a game about which has no clue. This is all part of a plot to sabotage the team of the new owner, Rebecca. A scorned divorcee looking to exact revenge on her ex-husband through relegation. What she wasn’t counting on was Ted’s belief in people winning the team, fans and even herself over.
One might think It’s hardly a new story exploring the coach of an underdog team nor is it a particularly original one to tell the fish out of water story. Stranger in a strange land is a familiar theme, every time an American on a screen appears in a foreign country. I would be the first to concede that Ted Lasso on the surface appears familiar. Yet remember when a medical show was (and still is) a familiar and almost yawn inducing concept, then there was Scrubs right. Well you will be happy to known, Bill Lawrence, the creator of Scrubs is at the helm here.
More importantly Ted Lasso in its first season doesn’t actually indulge too deeply in either theme too much. It’s making its own path and its a positive one.
For Ted Lasso it’s all about capturing and bottling a feeling. Ted Lasso is not exactly the most hilarious show. Sure don’t get me wrong there are jokes throughout from surly football fans, gruff football players, cynical sports reporters and the most ludicrous of soccer plays but it’s not laugh a minute stuff. It’s more quirk and chuckle. Those looking for a belly laugh might be put off. It’s more fun without being funny. Destined to make you feel good rather than laugh. But maybe that’s exactly what is needed rather than cynical humour that spends too much deconstructing.
A lot of the show hangs on the performance by Jason Sudekis who is a beacon of hope without being a buffoon. His relentless optimism wins over character after character. It’s a little of home cooking or seeing the guy no one sees and hearing him out. Yet his character is filled with heartache and frustration too. It’s hard to believe how much he nails it and deserves a whole bunch of recognition come award time.
Still there are numerous other likeable players too from the stoic Coach Beard, the aging WAG but heart of Gold Keely, the grumpy aging footballer Roy Kent, heck even club owner Rebecca starts to thaw a bit. Lasso may steal the show but the side characters are often delightful. Even the awful ones get moment to at least have another dimension.
If there is anything that is wrong with Ted Lasso it sometimes feels as if the timing is a bit off. Not in terms of jokes but in terms of the season’s pacing. At times feeling rushed as events and relationship just pile up and then disappear and make it feel a little bit scatter shot at times. For example who is Ted’s love interest he goes from married to getting divorced to romance with the WAG, a random hook-up and maybe the football club’s owner. While I think it eventually settle it never quite feels evenly or well distributed. Hopefully something fixed in later seasons with confidence and certain renewal.
Overall it’s fun and will make you feel optimistic about people and the like. A must watch from a new streaming platform.
Platform: Apple TV+