The Corner

Culture

Why We Need Ted Lasso

Nick Mohammed, Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt in Ted Lasso. (AppleTV+)

A big reason kids are so delightful is that they’re so unguarded when they’re playing or being silly, and the habit has a way of rubbing off on adults around them so that we can play right along, and everyone can have a blissfully unselfconscious great time.  Also, kids tend to have an implacable sunny optimism that vaporizes all cynicism in the immediate vicinity. Who doesn’t love it when kids jump repeatedly into a pile of leaves or start a full-on light-saber battle, heedless of how they look?

Which brings me to the indestructible optimism of Ted Lasso, the hero of the Apple TV+ sitcom by that name. (Season 2, which begins with Ted’s not-very-good professional soccer team stuck in a string of ties and retired hard man Roy Kent hilariously embracing a new gig, launches July 23, with new episodes debuting each Friday thereafter.) How much of Jason Sudeikis, the star of the show and creator of the character, is in Ted Lasso is debatable; Sudeikis says the chipper, can-do Midwesterner who gradually wins over the cynical Brits in his orbit is him at his best, but some of his friends insist that, no, Ted Lasso just is Jason Sudeikis. Awkwardly, after the delightful first season aired, Sudeikis suffered the same fate as his character and broke up with his wife, Olivia Wilde.

Lasso is a U.S. football coach turned coach of a mediocre London soccer club (the owner, who gained control of the team in a divorce settlement, hired him to troll her ex-husband and expected him to run it into the ground). With his drawl, his silly mustache, his Dad jokes, and his rejection of bad attitudes, he’s a caricature of unreservedly friendly Americans as seen from Europe (or some of the more cynical precincts of the U.S., such as the Northeast). Yet his transparency and big heart prove so appealing that even the jaded, faithless, rained-on species known as Londoners find it increasingly untenable to resist his charm. He’s so gosh-darned likable he could almost get a Londoner to say “gosh-darned.” His appeal is childlike. (But beware of “Led Tasso,” his ill-tempered doppelgänger.)

It’s pleasing to read in this GQ profile of Sudeikis that he is as doggedly cheerful as his creation: “The only things you’re competing against, I believe, are apathy, cynicism, and ego,” he says, and “I don’t ever want to be cynical.” Sudeikis was previously identified with some characters he played as fratty jerks, but he allows that Ted’s corny-as-Kansas-in-August outlook hits much closer to home: He says of the show, “It’s the closest thing I have to a tattoo. It’s the most personal thing I’ve ever made.” Cue up the show, and prepare to have your spirits lifted.

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