Have you ever enjoyed a TV show so much that you were dying for everyone to see it?
That’s how I feel about Ted Lasso.
From start to finish, I was smiling, laughing, and compassionately understanding of Ted’s plight. It’s everything I needed from a TV show in 2020.
Now, if only I could persuade all of you to watch it, as well.
After two weeks of reviews and interviews, there hasn’t been a lot of action on TV Fanatic. But I know that you are an Apple-loving lot. I have stats to prove it. So I’m going to carry on with my love fest in the hope that you all jump on board.
It crossed my mind to deny you the pleasure of my enjoyment of Ted Lasso, but frankly, that wouldn’t be The Lasso Way. And if there’s one thing that I learned from watching Ted Lasso, it’s that his way is far better than any other way I’ve run across in 2020.
When we pick up with the passionate coach on Ted Lasso Season 1 Episode 1, the solid performing small-time coach has taken a job coaching soccer, which we’ll call football, as God intended, going forward.
Without a lick of experience and a beautiful wife and son, it’s hard to imagine why Ted would want to cross the Atlantic into unknown territory.
With him is his trusted companion and assistant, Coach Beard. Beard does know the game, whether because he came into it with the awareness or because he’s taking the time to understand what he’s getting into. But it doesn’t matter if Ted knows the game because Ted knows coaching.
Jamie: What? You want me to run decoy?
Ted: Yeah, that’s right!
Jamie: It’s a joke. Unfortunately for you, though, no one thinks it’s funny.
Ted: That true?
Roy: Um, agree to disagree. I find it hilarious. I thought it’s funny than Step Brothers.
Ted: High praise.
Roy: That scene where the bunkbed collapses. I used to think that was the funniest thing I’d ever seen, but then I just saw that, and now I’m going to have to rethink my order of what I think is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.
Ted: Yeah, that’s when sports and art combine, as far as I’m concerned. Alright, let’s run it again! Let’s go!
Ted is a born coach. His positive attitude should be annoying. But Ted isn’t a “Who’s got a case of the Mondays” kind of optimist. Nope. He readily admits to his shortcomings, and not glossing them over is part of his charm.
You can accept someone giving it their all if they’re willing to admit what they don’t know. Ted isn’t afraid to tell a roomful of reporters waiting for his first stumble that you could fill two internets with what he doesn’t know about the game. That’s very brave.
But Ted doesn’t know he’s being set up, either. His heart is so pure and so full of pain, he overlooks the obvious — that there’s no fury like a woman scorned. In this case, that woman is the new owner of the Richmond Premier League club, Rebecca.
Rebecca: So, how was your first day?
Ted: I’m not exactly sure what y’all’s smallest unit of measurement is over here, but that’s about how much headway I made.
Rebecca’s ex-husband was a womanizer and a chronic cheat. And what Rebecca won in the divorce proceedings, she wants to tear asunder. It’s hard to blame her.
The only thing worse than being married to someone in the public eye is when that person flaunts their infidelity and are the beloved owner of the football team. Even when they’re losing, Rupert was such a good lad to the fans that they accepted his bad behavior and celebrated it. Ouch.
To Rebecca, feeding Ted to the wolves is just part of her greater plan to make Rupert pay for all the damage he’s caused. She doesn’t know Ted from Adam. Why should she care if he’s hurt by her actions?
Nothing prepares her for Ted’s arrival and the discovery that while an incompetent British football coach, he’s generally beloved by all, just like Rupert. Except in his case, Ted deserves the accolades.
There doesn’t appear to be a bad bone in Ted’s body. He has a loving heart, and while it’s certainly one of his best features, it’s also the source of his pain.
Ted jumped into the fire of British football to give his wife some space. That becomes painfully obvious when he first calls her from his hotel room, jet-lagged but filled with longing for his family.
Even knowing Ted for all of 30 minutes, it stings knowing that someone would need space from him. Maybe he’s not the nicest guy after all.
But then Ted Lasso Season 1 Episode 2 commences, and we watch him working hard to impress his new boss with homemade biscuits and his attempts to connect with a team not overeager to be playing under him with suggestion boxes and birthday parties.
Ted reads people very well, so perhaps the only person who escaped his keen perception and intuition was the one person with whom he believed he could keep his guard down — his wife.
Then again, Ted also believes the best of Rebecca because it’s not in his frame of reference to be vengeful or to tear down something to pull one over on an ex.
It doesn’t stop him from trying to connect and doing it so well that Rebecca begins to chafe under his constant attack of kindness.
When she sends him into the lion’s den to ask Keeley how to handle her boyfriend, the overinflated star player, Jamie Tartt, Rebecca is hoping that they get on in a way that set up her new coach as tabloid fodder.
While her brain might be in the gutter, Ted and Keeley are cut from the same cloth, and their connection, while exploited, goes beyond her expectations and sets her up for a little fall.
Rebecca: So, I spoke to the owner of The Sun.
Ted: You spoke to God?!
Rebecca: No, the newspaper.
Ted believes so much in Rebecca and her faith in him that he and Keeley ask her to call in a favor to keep the seedy photos from hitting the paper.
Ted: See? What’d I tell you, huh? This woman right here is strong, confident, and powerful. Boss, I tell ya, I’d hate to see you and Michelle Obama arm wrestle, but I wouldn’t be able to take my eyes off it, either.
Rebecca: Oh, that’s not a compliment I’ve had before.
Keeley: Yeah, you do have perfect, action-figurey arms.
Rebecca: Oh, there’s another one.
It’s an easy get since she’s the one who wanted the photos published, and it’s very satisfying watching her squirm under the pressure to do the right thing. Ted is going to be a good influence on Rebecca.
That also opens the door for Keeley to admire Rebecca, wanting to get to know her better. Their friendship starts when Keeley gets a cactus for Rebecca because it’s strong and prickly like her, and it’s solidified with Keeley’s explosive admiration of Rebecca’s nude form.
Keeley: Holy shit, Rebecca! Are those your real tits? I feel like a teenage boy. I can’t stop staring at them! Where did you get those?
Rebecca: My mum!
Keeley: I can’t believe you stopped this from running. I would have shown everyone!
It’s rare for women to be that honest with each other, and it’s pretty plain to see that Rebecca needs more of it in her life.
Will the pair, Ted and Keeley, wear down Rebecca’s defense mechanisms and desire for revenge? It seems impossible not to. But even those encounters haven’t dampened her lust for vengeance so far.
When Rebecca realizes that Ted has already turned Higgins’ head and that his strange Americanisms are also garnering respect from the team she wants to go under, she boils up another plan — get Ted’s biggest stumbling block in the press to spend time with him.
Surely, that will mean an unflattering article sending the Richmond fans into a tizzy, thereby scuttling the momentum Ted has gained with the team.
Unfortunately for Rebecca, she doesn’t spend enough time with Ted to see the real effect he’s making in the locker room and on the field.
Ted sees the damage done to the other team members and to his new left-hand, Nate. Jamie relishes in the ill will his devotees wash over the shy young man. It’s so offensive to Roy, the older and one-time star player, that he takes it to Ted, hoping for intervention.
But Ted’s powers of persuasion are as keen as his perception, and by refusing to step in to help, he enlists Roy to do the job for him. It’s a far more effective tactic placing a respected player in the middle of Jamie and his bullies, and although he knows he’s been played, Roy goes to bat for Nate.
Roy: Yeah, just thought you should know that your boy, Nathan’s been harassed every single day by Jamie and his little side pricks.
Roy: So you know already.
Roy: So you’ll take care of it.
Roy: What the fuck?
Ted: Roy, I learned two pretty big lessons on the rough and tumble playgrounds of Bookridge Elementary School. One, if little Ronnie Fouch offers you a candy bar, you immediately say no and get the hell out of there cause there’s a good chance that little son of a gun has pooped inside of a Butterfinger wrapper. No one ever saw him do it, but a couple people ate it. Number two, teacher tells a bully not to pick on someone, it’s just gonna make it worse.
Roy: So you’re not going to do anything?
Ted: No. [Roy sneers and leaves]
Beard: Why you windin’ him up?
Ted: Because he’s the one, coach. If we’re gonna make an impact here, the first domino need to fall right inside of that man’s heart.
Playing the hero really softens the seemingly hard and unaffected player. He even calls himself out on it angrily, ranting in front of Keeley that he somehow found himself responsible for Nate, but somehow not all that convinced that he was actually angry.
And call me crazy, but it sure looked like the young woman was seeing something in Roy that she liked. She’s so smart and capable and cares about others; what the hell does she see in Jamie Tartt?
Well, I ask that at the same time I know the answer. Jamie seems like a damaged soul. Ted took her advice about Jamie to heart, and you could see Jamie melting when Ted gave him positive reinforcement.
Ted was using the rules to positively reinforce while also sneaking in ways that Jamie needed to improve, hoping that the soft touch would help Jamie hear and process the need for improvement based on the reinforcement.
But as soon as Jamie left the building, he fell apart. He only needed the tiniest shove to send him toppling back down the hill. Ted has his work cut out for him with that one.
But what about the newspaper article with Trent Crimm? Well, as you see in Ted Lasso Season 1 Episode 3, it’s hard to ignore Ted’s winning attitude. Trent spent some time with the coach and got a lesson in humility and kindness.
Ted admitted he doesn’t think in terms of wins or losses, and that blew Trent’s mind.
But out of all of the people that first accosted Ted in the initial press conference, he seemed like the most journalistic of them. Meaning, he was open to new ideas and didn’t go into any of it with anything other than truth on his mind.
First of all, how refreshing. And second of all, it kind of endears you to the profession again. If only our real journos could be as open-minded as the seemingly staid Trent Crimm.
Of course, Trent did think it was convenient that Ted was visiting a local school on the same day that Trent was to follow him around and get to know him. But as Ted said, if it didn’t happen, then there wouldn’t be coincidences.
Going to the school added to my love affair with Roy. The only thing better than an openly warm and fuzzy, genuine human being like Ted Lasso is the dark and brooding type hiding that fuzzy interior like Roy Kent. Oooh, la la!!
Another thing that I love about Ted (yes, the list is long) is how he uses his appreciation for youth to help him get a greater understanding of the game.
He took early notice of a schoolgirl in his neighborhood, and even if he knows nothing, he still engages her in the sport when he can. And watching the kids in the schoolyard tickled him despite the ball to the schnoz.
And proving that the opening with Beard and Ted taking a short sightseeing detour around London wasn’t for naught, Ted recalled everything about Ollie, including where he worked, and that’s where he took Trent for a nice, hot meal.
Ted: I’ll say this though, I really enjoyed getting to spend this time with you, Trent.
Trent: You actually mean that, don’t you?
So when Higgins, delightful Higgins who has already taken to dancing in the locker room, began reading Trent’s article about Ted, you knew it was going to do nothing to help Rebecca’s cause. Or did it?
It sure seems that part of Ted’s journey will be to bring light and love to everyone around him, even if they’re kicking and screaming when they first begin.
Rebecca isn’t used to men caring for her. She got the raw end of her marriage and even lost hope thanks to Higgins’ traitorous turn aiding Rupert in his womanizing. But biscuits and cactus might be the way to reshape her heart. Will others in Richmond follow suit?
Whether you’re on board yet or not, I’m going to do the same thing for you. The Lasso Way is what you need to survive in 2020, and I’m going to keep shoving you in the right direction.
For those of you who watched, what did you enjoy about the premiere? Who is your favorite character?
Do you wish you encountered life with the same warm gusto as Ted Lasso? Hit the comments!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.