When the world needed a distraction from the constant reminder of isolation and depression that quarantining and the pandemic left us all in, Apple TV and Ted Lasso was there. The first season came at a time when there was very little hope to keep pushing on, a world divided by tough times and provided us all with a sensation that only Ted Lasso could provide – sincere joy and happiness that could warm the coldest of hearts and lift the lowest of spirits. And every week during the release of that first season in 2020, life got easier, every week returned more forgotten happiness to our lives we all so desperately clung on to.
Now with its 3rd season underway, the first episode releasing last week, season 3 remains the same as it was when the series’ first premiered – a warm and soothing hug and a reminder that life is worth living no matter how difficult the times may be. And though life has returned to a sense of normalcy, to a degree, Ted Lasso being back for its 3rd season is just the icing on the proverbial cake. That unexpected, good job at the end of a hard day of work or someone close telling you that everything is going to be ok.
Based on a series of promos for coverage of the Premier League, Ted (Jason Sudeikis) is now no stranger to the world of football, though he’s perfectly apt to being delightfully ignorant to what he considers himself as a ‘dumb American’ still. “How dumb are you”, the group of reporters shout back as Ted finds metaphors to describe himself in the worst way but still makes light of it all. At least Ted can laugh at himself and shrug off all of the criticisms with a charming demeanor that go with being a fish out of water or a College American football coach being headhunted by Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), owner of AFC Richmond to coach her team.
Episode 1 titled Smells Like Mean Spirit opens with the team facing a dilemma – projected to finish 20th in the Premier league standings, rankings are all anyone can talk about. Especially former kit manager Nate Shelley (Nick Mohammed) who is currently manager for West Ham under the guidance of Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head), Rebecca’s ex-husband and former owner of AFC Richmond.
Making the snide remark that there isn’t a 21st place for Richmond to land in, Nate’s lack of confidence in himself still pokes through, causing a sense of anxiety inducing panic in Nate now that he’s firmly in the spotlight. But Nate’s oblivious arrogance will suspectedly prove to be his eventual downfall – not giving his players the respect to learn who they are, giving them harsh nicknames instead of learning their names and treating them they way he thought he was treated by Ted. To Nate, the athletes aren’t humans – the juxtaposition between Ted and Nate as managers and people are glaringly obvious.
Never has there been a character hated more on television since Joffrey Baratheon than the guy who betrayed the most positive man in London in Ted Lasso.
Ted being Ted, the series once more finds a way to lean into the overwhelming positivity to teach valuable lessons that the series has come to be known for. Having the ability to laugh at yourself takes away the power of others, the self -deprecation is forever stitched into Ted’s fundamental DNA. From the silly yet quippy back and forth dialogue to the interrupting booming voice of an angry Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) shouting Oi, it’s the more internal human natured messages most of us deal with on a daily basis that sticks the landing when fully explored. Experiencing a lack of confidence, imposter syndrome or feeling overwhelmed and outspoken? Ted Lasso understands and has a charming sentimental monologue for each specific feeling.
Getting off to a slower than expected start, episode 2 titled (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea picks up the slack with the focus being on football, the personal relationships between the core ensemble, and the messy politics of competing at the highest level in the country in regard to the sport. Weaved within are subplots beginning to take shape that will go on to stretch out the entirety of the season. One in particular that will break the hearts of anyone fully committed to the series. When the focus isn’t on Ted, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), Roy Kent, Rebecca or Keeley (Juno Temple), it’s the team that step in to carry the burden. The show is still Ted’s documenting his and Beard’s strange journey across the pond away from family and friends (the opening of Ted and his son Henry reopen some unhealed wounds).
Despite the slow start of reintroducing the ensemble cast and catching everyone up on the latest news, season 3 has the signature laugh out loud moments only to be followed by a more serious tone. Character development remains at the forefront with noticeable personal growth from both Rebecca and Jaime Tartt (Phil Dunster) leading the way. It’s remarkable how far Jamie has come on his journey since season 1 as he has become one of the favorites of the team along with Sam (Toheeb Jimoh), Isaac (Kola Bokinni), and Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernández).
I suspect by episode 3, the wheel speed will be back up to full power as Ted Lasso continues to be a must watch week over week. In the words of Dani Rojas, Football is life, but so is Ted Lasso.
Created By: Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt & Joe Kelly
Episodes Directed By: MJ Delaney
Music By: Marcus Mumford & Tom Howe
Cinematography: David Rom & Vanessa Whyte
Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Jeremy Swift, Phil Dunster, Bret Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed, Juno Temple
Where to Watch: Apple TV +
Release Date: March 15, 2023
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
Based On: Characters and Format by NBC Sports