If you spent time watching NBC Sports in 2013, you might recognize Jason Sudeikis’ moustachioed character, Coach Ted Lasso. To promote the network’s coverage of the Premier League, Ted appeared in a mini-documentary chronicling his time as the new head coach of Tottenham Hotspur F.C. Ted was loud, demanding, utterly clueless and as American as apple pie in the promo spots. He was also hilarious and popular enough to inspire his own television show. That show, aptly titled Ted Lasso, premiered on Apple TV+ on August 14th and was picked up for a second season just five days later.
The Lasso in the series is a bit different from his commercial counterpart. Still portrayed by Sudeikis, this Ted Lasso is a charming, goofy, midwestern-nice football coach who gets recruited by a struggling English soccer team to be their new General Manager, despite knowing very little about the game. His introduction to the world of England’s most beloved sport is a rocky one; the vernacular is completely foreign to him, the press eats him alive and the team greets him with a combination of amused disbelief and outright disdain. It’ll be an uphill battle for Ted, and he’ll get no help from the club’s new owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), who won the team in a contentious divorce and is plotting to use it as a weapon against her cheating, soccer-obsessed ex (Anthony Head). Luckily Ted’s got a few people on his side- his trusted friend and fellow expat Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), the sweet, formerly invisible “kit boy” Nate (Nick Mohammed) and Keeley (Juno Temple), a soccer groupie and social media influencer who is romantically tied to the star of the team. While the soccer world at large sees his endless sunny outlook as buffoonery, it’s clear after the first few episodes that his unusual methods get results. As he sets out to find his footing and soften stodgy hearts, you can’t help but root for him.
Admittedly, it’s well-tread territory, but Ted Lasso’s underdog story is a welcome change of pace to the cynicism that seems to dominate today’s television landscape. Though set in modern-day England, the lighthearted fish-out-of-water yarn feels like a throwback to a gentler time in entertainment. While originally the character was a cocky American espousing a “fake it ‘til you make it” strategy to the extreme, the new version is full of folksy wisdom and charm. He isn’t a coach to win games, he took the gig because he loves pushing people to be their best on and off the pitch. In addition to being lighthearted and fun, it’s also pretty darn funny. Every episode has at least one laugh-out-loud moment, which more than you can say for most sitcoms currently airing.
You can catch Ted Lasso on Apple TV+, with new episodes airing on Fridays.
Read about other streaming TV to watch now: What To Watch in September 2020