If honesty is truly the best policy, then allow me to be blunt: Apple’s cannonball into the streaming wars has yet to make a splash. Apple TV+ launched last November with starry eyes, hoping its A-list-driven original series would garner enough attention to compensate for a non-existent back catalog of fan-favorites. While touching immigrant anthology series Little America is nothing short of splendid, flagship series The Morning Show is overly expensive and uneven. Mileage has varied on the rest of the streamer’s original library. But you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs and as Jason Sudeikis’ Ted Lasso rounds into its final two episodes, doubters such as myself end up with more and more yolk on their face.
Ted Lasso is something of a TV miracle. What began as a farcical character Sudeikis played in NBC Sports commercials for their coverage of the Premier League in 2013 has, impossibly, become the most endearing character on all of television. Of course, it helps when Scrubs and Cougar Town architect Bill Lawrence is brought on to develop the show.
The pitch is simple: an American football coach is hired to manage English Premier League team AFC Richmond despite having no experience with soccer. On paper, that fish-out-of-water hook seems pleasant enough, but not necessarily capable of supporting a 10-episode season. But here’s the thing about both the lead character and the TV show: there’s no quit in ’em.
Radiating warmth with cheesy yet endearing romances, workplace hijinks, and unrelenting belief in the world’s goodness, Ted Lasso helps to melt the emotional burden you didn’t even know you were carrying. Every sentimental sports cliche, from the immature hotshot star player to the aging veteran on his last legs, is embraced unironically. You won’t so much binge the series as zip through it like a cartoon character floating his way toward a cooling pie. Ted Lasso’s unwavering belief and steadfast kindness are pitch-perfect counterbalances to the mud-slinging muck and calcifying morale that seems to be gripping our nation. He is soccer—sorry—football‘s Mr. Rogers.
But Lasso’s kill ’em with kindness approach would grow irritatingly grating if not for the right touch of authentic melodrama. Marriage and relationship issues plague his personal life in a subdued yet entirely realistic way. The lives of the characters around him aren’t much neater either. Finding love is hard; maintaining it is even harder. We all fear loneliness and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. But regardless of the situation, we must also remember that kindness and maturity are a choice, not an innate attribute. It’s up to us to work on that everyday and choose to try and be the best versions of ourselves.
As a comedy, Ted Lasso is more charming than hilarious. Juno Temple capably pushes the rare joke here and there, but the remainder of the humor comes from affectation and characterization. If you’re looking for an outright gut-buster, you can move along. But for whatever the show lacks in outright humor, it more than makes up for with heart. Sometimes, a sweet snicker is just as effective as a lavish laugh.
Ted Lasso is a formulaic endeavor that uses cliches to its advantage and wins you over with pure positivity. In an age drowning in nonstop negativity, that sort of innocent naiveté and boundless optimism feels like a warm shower for the soul. Apple TV+ may not yet be the Netflix killer it envisioned, but as Ted Lasso preaches, never lose hope.
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