(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Show: Ted Lasso
Where You Can Stream It: AppleTV+
The Pitch: An American football coach is hired to coach an English soccer (AKA “football”) team, despite having no experience in the sport. Will the season be a complete disaster, or will this charming underdog surprise the world?
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been hearing a slow trickle of buzz about Ted Lasso, this new Apple show starring Jason Sudeikis. Practically all of the reactions shared the same sentiment: after a reluctance to initially get on board with the show came a near-immediate love for it once people pressed play. Allow me to add my name to the chorus of new fans of Ted Lasso: this show is somehow better than you’ve heard.
Here’s a super hot take you probably haven’t heard anywhere else: 2020 has not been the greatest year. But Ted Lasso, with its endearing characters, rapid-fire jokes, and infectious optimism, is a much-needed salve for these turbulent times. I’ve only seen seven of the first season’s eleven episodes so far, but barring some unforeseen catastrophic drop in quality, I’m confident this will end up being one of my favorite pieces of media this year.
If you’re worried that a show about a soccer coach might require you to actually have a working knowledge of soccer, this series wisely uses the sport as a jumping off point and rarely focuses on the mechanics of the game itself. In fact, there’s a surprisingly small amount of time devoted to matches throughout the season. Instead, the show is much more concerned with the interpersonal relationships of the coach and his players, his fellow coaches, and the team’s owner.
There’s a Major League vibe to the overarching plot, with a female owner (Hannah Waddingham) looking to purposefully tank her own team behind the scenes. But what seems like a cut and dried motivation is given more weight and dimension throughout the season as we’re introduced to the previous owner, her uber-wealthy ex-husband (a total prick who treats her like garbage). She initially views Ted as a means to a vindictive end, but his aw-shucks charm slowly begin to chip away at her tough exterior and slowly win her over.
And while Ted’s goofy Midwestern niceties could be played entirely for laughs, Ted Lasso does something unexpected: it interrogates what it must be like for someone else to live with this person all the time, and what effect that over-the-top optimism might have on a marriage. That adds a layer of emotional depth and complexity to this otherwise hilarious comedy that I frankly was not ready for, so don’t be surprised if you shed a few tears along the way.
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