“Ted Lasso” is no longer a hidden television gem with its two Golden Globe nominations for 2021. The fictional show about a college football coach from Kansas crossing the pond to manage a English Premier League club outside of London is in the running for “Best Comedy Series”, while its star, Jason Sudeikis, is up for “Best Actor in a Comedy Series.”
Keeping company with shows such as Canadian sensation “Schitt’s Creek” is appropriate, given “Ted Lasso” is another hilarious but feel-good fish-out-of-water comedy. Sudeikis originally played the character in TV ads to promote NBC’s live coverage of EPL matches. Building an entire show around that has been genius, as the series deftly blends American and British humor.
Also like “Schitt’s Creek,” “Ted Lasso” didn’t draw a mass following at first, but it’s recommended viewing for anyone who loves original, well-acted and well-written comedy, even with limited interest in either of the footballs. “Ted Lasso” has a 90 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and scored 71 out of 100 on Metacritic.
The American Film Institute already named “Ted Lasso” as one of the Top 10 Television Programs of last year. Along with the two Globe nods, “Ted Lasso” is also nominated for three Critics’ Choice Television Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Writers Guild of America Awards and a Satellite Award, with Sudeikis being recognized seven times in all as a lead actor, co-writer, and co-executive producer.
Here’s how to get into “Ted Lasso” for the first time and catch up on past episodes, with the likelihood of repeat binge-watching
What is ‘Ted Lasso’?
Ted Lasso’s inspiring coaching in leading the Wichita State Shockers to the Division II national championship in college football lands him an unusual follow-up a gig — coaching AFC Richmond, a U.K. soccer association club trying to avoid relegation. He’s joined in the journey by his good friend and assistant coach, Coach Beard, and also helped by his new knowledgeable kit man, Nathan “Nate The Great” Shelley.
Lasso and his staff must not only manage players such as aging, surly veteran Roy Kent and cocky Manchester City loaned striker Jamie Tart, but also meet the expectations of new AFC Richmond owner Rebecca Welton, who gained the team from her cheating ex-husband, Rupert Mannion, in a bitter divorce. Welton has an ulterior motive in hiring Lasso which includes revenge against Mannion.
Along the way, Lasso proves he’s a lot more than a folksy American with hokey philosophy by showing that his determination, affability and effective motivational style works, even in a different sport in a different country. Among the other key characters are Leslie Higgins, Weston’s Director of Football Operations and Keeley Jones, a model and social influencer involved with Tartt who becomes AFC Richmond’s branding consultant.
How to watch ‘Ted Lasso’
“Ted Lasso” can be seen exclusively on Apple TV+, a premium streaming content subscription service. All 10 episodes from the completed Season 1 are available to watch. Apple TV+ can be accessed with a 7-day free trial or after that, a monthly fee of $4.99. If you buy a new Apple product, such as the iPhone 12, one complimentary year of Apple TV+ would come with it.
Who’s in the ‘Ted Lasso’ cast
Sudeikis’ only regular American co-star is Brendan Hunt, who plays Coach Beard. Otherwise it’s an excellent British main cast, led by West End musical theatre star Hannah Waddingham as Rebecca. Phil Dunster and Brett Goldstein nail their roles as Jamie and Roy, respectively.
Comedian Nick Mohammed plays Nate, while Jeremy Swift, best known for being the Dowager Countess’ butler on “Downton Abbey”, serves as Higgins. Juno Temple often steals her scenes as Keeley.
When Rupert Mannion is featured in a few episodes, it’s a name and face many American viewers will recognize. He’s played by Anthony Head, aka Rupert Giles, the Watcher of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” Andrea Anders, who co-starred in “Joey”, appears as Lasso’s wife, Michelle, also mother of his young son. NBC’s presence is also felt with the network’s Premier League lead play-by-play man, Arlo White, playing himself.
How many seasons of ‘Ted Lasso’ are out?
“Ted Lasso” continues to grow as a surprise hit after its completed first season of 10 episodes. A second season of 12 episodes was ordered shortly after the pilot and two other episodes premiered on Aug. 14, 2020. Last October, the show was renewed again for a third and likely final season.
‘Ted Lasso’ Season 2 premiere date
Apple TV+ announced Season 2 of “Ted Lasso” will be released in Summer 2021. Production for the episodes started on Jan. 15.
What show is ‘Ted Lasso’ most like?
There is a throwback to the 1980s HBO comedy series, “1st & Ten”, in which Delta Burke plays an owner of a professional American football team who also gets full ownership from a divorce. It was most notable for giving O.J. Simpson a major role before the “The Naked Gun”. There also are elements of the the classic 1989 baseball comedy movie “Major League”, from the wacky coaches and players’ antics to another powerful woman being in charge.
If you like screwball sports comedy, you should love “Ted Lasso.” The show is also derivative of many Disney-fied sports drama films based on real-life events, but this fictional world comes with more smarts than schmaltz.
10 reasons to love “Ted Lasso”
1. Jason Sudeikis is fantastic. If anyone out there still was questioning his comedic genius as a “Saturday Night Live” and “Second City” alum, the role is perfect for his improvisational and writing skills.
2. The soccer is pretty good, too. From the British press to the local pub hooligans, to the locker room and the pitch, “Ted Lasso” plays up the exaggeration of Premier League shenanigans and what gets lost in translation for the uninitiated in America.
3. Good-looking people wearing good-looking clothes. Tartt, Kent and their teammates match the appeal of soccer’s biggest worldwide superstars. Rebecca and Keeley are both glamorous and gorgeous. Lasso himself makes a white visor, sweater, khakis and red sneakers look like the height of athleisure chic.
4. Coach Beard, Nate and Higgins. OK, that’s really three reasons, but they come together to become the ultimate hilarious foils and support to Coach Lasso.
5. Plenty of British slang and expletives. The often colorful language and sexual references do keep it from being “a family show,” but they also add to the jolly good time for more mature audiences.
6. Real reatlionship drama. “Ted Lasso” excels at developing all of its notable characters and make us feel what they’re going through personallly, high and low.
7. Sex. This is somewhat related to No. 3 and No. 5, but let’s also stop short of saying “Ted Lasso” is trying to be “Bridgerton.”
8. A great villiain. Head is delightfully evil as a totally different Rupert.
9. The high production value. The writng and acting are damn good, but so is the filming and direction. That’s been the case with all new scripted shows on Apple TV+.
10. “Football is life.” You’ll soon be saying the catchphrase of Dani Rojas, the AFC Richmond import from Mexico.
How does ‘Ted Lasso’ stack up to the best-ever TV sports comedies?
When it comes to situational comedies about sports, the short-lived “Sports Night”, the Aaron Sorkin-created show starring Felicity Huffman, Josh Charles, Peter Krause and the late Robert Guillaume, is considered the gold standard. But that was more of a behind-the-scenes riff on producing a “SportsCenter”-like live TV show.
Likewise, HBO’s overrated Robert Wuhl-starrer “Arli$$” was about a sports agent. “The League” remains awesome, but that was about fantasy football players. “GLOW” and “Cobra Kai” are pretty binge-worthy on Netflix now, but they’re 1980s fringe throwbacks to women’s professional wresting and all-valley karate, respectively.
Not since “Coach” starring Craig T. Nelson or “Evening Shade” starring the late Burt Reynolds — who both won Emmys as best comedic lead actors — were on in the 1990s has a series centered so well around a football coach, his quirky assistants, his players and his personal life.
Lasso has heart and soul, with a side of raunchy and dramatic moments. Sudeikis is brilliant at delivering one-liners that will have you thinking and laughing out loud. He also brings the acting chops to convey his wide range of emotions. He owns the character and everyone feeds off his energy on screen. The supporting players and bits aren’t a let down. Even though some might argue about stretching reality with coach press conferences and EPL action, some of the old sports movie cliches get fresh and surprising spins.
“Ted Lasso” gives you a little bit of everything, led by the laughter and joy you will get from watching it in a time when most of us still need it, sports fan or not. It gets an A-plus as one of the best reasons to get access to Apple TV+.