For all those soccer-haters out there, it is rarely a sport that triggers any loyalty or excitement but when it comes to Apple TV+’s latest comedy/drama series, Ted Lasso, starring Jason Sudeikis, it is downright impossible to not get swept up in its charisma. Chances are, you may catch yourself cheering for a soccer team and you’re gonna like it.
As it is with big ensemble series, it is hard to present a story that will make the viewer root for the entire cast. But Ted Lasso manages to achieve this rare feat, as you will find you are totally invested in not only its endearing, charismatic characters but also in football. But it isn’t the only impossibility that it’s able to accomplish.
For the uninitiated, the Apple TV+ sitcom is based on a character, Ted Lasso, that was created in 2013 for ads for NBC Sports’ coverage of Premier League soccer in the U.S. The particularly one-dimensional character was shown as a clueless and inexperienced American football coach who was hired to lead a soccer team in England. Ted was curated to hilariously depict American fans unfamiliar with European football.
In Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso, that very character (portrayed by an excellent Jason Sudeikis) is not some annoying wannabe but Jason Sudeikis and Bill Lawrence’s imbued him with a warm and emotional depth that is more than enough to make anyone root for the character.
In the 10 episode series, of which three have debuted already, Ted Lasso is a perky, enthusiastic head coach of a minor college football team in Kansas, which recently celebrated Division II championship win at Wichita State. But despite his barely-there knowledge about soccer, he is hired to lead a mediocre Premier League soccer team, AFC Richmond based in London. While like his ad version, he is unaware of the nuances of soccer, this Ted is so supremely adorably and abound with an infectious enthusiasm that never comes across as exaggerated, it is hard to not like him.
The reason he is hired is not because of his experience, it is his inexperience that brings him to Richmond’s new owner, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), who has just taken over the team as part of the divorce settlement to her wealthy, cheating ex-husband Rupert (Anthony Head). Her agenda to hire Ted Lasso? She wants revenge from her husband and what’s better than completely destroy AFC Richmond that he loves more than anything?
But Ted, initially unaware of her scheming ways, approaches coaching Richmond with a belief he always had- what matters is how one plays the game, no who wins or loses. For him, being a coach is all about helping his players “be the best versions of themselves on and off the field.”
While touted as a comedy, there are rarely any moments that warrant a laugh-out-loud reaction but the humour visibly improves as the series progress and begins to feel less forced, more natural. But this minor issue is barely visible when the heart of the series resides in its solid story, amazing knit-together characters, and especially in Jason Sudeikis’ sweet and earnest portrayal of Ted Lasso. Ted Lasso surprisingly ends up displaying an emotional depth and an aptitude for making even a sports sitcom engaging, so much that you will eagerly look forward to its weekly presence in your life.