What do you get when you take an American football coach– a caricature of the southern football fan stereotype– out of the SEC and drop him in a British football club? The answer is explored in the incredibly witty and hysterical Apple TV+ comedy series Ted Lasso. The show follows the main character for whom the series is named; portrayed by Jason Sudeikis who sports an absolutely ridiculous mustache and speaks with a stunningly accurate southern accent. The character was originally concocted for promos for NBC’s coverage of Premier League soccer and inspired the creation of the show, which premiered in August of 2020.
Lasso, in the midst of a family crisis, is recruited to coach fictional premier league team AFC Richmond and leaves the U.S. to lead the team to the top of the ranks, all while knowing very little about soccer at all. He begins coaching the team as a college football coach might: running up and down the pitch shouting orders and ordering teammates to tackle each other. The team falters due to his lack of expertise and the fans of AFC Richmond typically end up chanting “Wanker!” as he walks off the pitch. However, Lasso’s unwavering positivity and faith in his team keep him going. The first season follows him as he eventually gets the hang of the rules, lingo, and politics of British soccer and develops friendships with the players and staff on his team.
Now, I’m not really the biggest fan of shows or movies that follow sports. For that matter, prior to watching the show, I had no knowledge whatsoever about professional soccer. But this show had me tearing up with laughter within the first 20 minutes of the first episode. Sudeikis’s portrayal of a Southern football coach was so masterfully done that it brought me back home to the football-centric South, where college ball is almost a religious experience for fans. As someone who grew up around Ted Lassos, I can say with confidence that his portrayal is right on the money (he also won a Golden Globe for his performance.) It’s the perfect binging show for anyone who enjoys subtle, slightly sophomoric comedy shows like The Office, Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Seriously: get into it this summer. –Isabelle Williams
Photo: (Left to Right) Brendan Hunt as the mysterious Coach Beard, Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso, and Nick Mohammed as Nathan, AFC Richmond’s shy kit man. Photo Courtesy of Sporting News.