Alexander Larman

The dark side of Ted Lasso

Why does the show only skirt its most interesting themes?

  • From Spectator Life
Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso [Alamy]

You’ll know where you are with Ted Lasso – the third season of which has just started on Apple TV – as soon as you hear the Marcus Mumford co-written theme song. It peddles a sort of sub-Coldplay uplift, with a lot of big, meaningless anthemic ‘yeah’s in the chorus. Bright, accessible, catchy and instantly forgettable, you still enjoy hearing it every time you watch a new episode.

And that’s the show in microcosm: cheery, amusing and utterly inconsequential. Yet somehow the Jason Sudeikis vehicle has become not only Apple TV’s biggest hit to date, but the most Emmy-nominated comedy in recent years. It has won for everyone from Sudeikis (who has two Emmys and two Golden Globes for his work on the show) to Brett Goldstein and Hannah Waddingham, who play, respectively, the surly veteran footballer Roy Kent and Rebecca, the owner of AFC Richmond, the football club that Lasso is hired to coach with hilarious consequences. 

At a time when most situation comedy is either insipid or unfunny, there’s something heartening about the way that Ted Lasso takes its potentially clichéd situation (‘fish out of water American ends up charming all those stiff-assed Brits’) and manages to make it fresh and amusing. In addition to the lead actors, there’s a fine selection of British comic thespians on hand, from the ever-unctuous Anthony Head as Waddingham’s suave but appalling ex-husband and business rival, to Downton Abbey’s Jeremy Swift as Higgins, AFC’s bumbling director of football operations. It’s also impossible not to enjoy James Lance as the journalist-turned-author Trent Crimm, always ready with an awkward question for the ever-cheery Ted. 

It’s frustrating that Ted Lasso constantly flirts with the idea of darker and more interesting territory, only to return to a comfort zone of hugs and one-liners

Such is the show’s popularity that the cast (including, naturally, Crimm) headed to the White House last week to discuss the issue of mental health.

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