Over the course of the last year, audiences of all ages, cooped up in their homes during the pandemic, fell in love with the AppleTV+ breakout hit Ted Lasso. The series is an unexpectedly heartwarming sports comedy centering on titular hero Ted Lasso, played by Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis. Ted, a lovable U.S. football coach is thrown into the deep end when he accepts a position as a European football coach in England for the struggling Premier League team A.F.C. Richmond. Ted is not welcomed into the organization with open arms, as the team is understandably hesitant to welcome a completely inexperienced American as their coach. After all, how could they trust someone that says tea tastes like “hot brown water”?
In a recent conversation with his We’re the Millers co-star Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms, WandaVision), Sudeikis detailed the origins of his character, explaining that Ted Lasso was initially created as a marketing stunt for NBC Sports when it was announced that the channel would be airing Premier football games. In an attempt to attract an American audience, a series of commercials starring Sudeikis’ buffoonish Ted, along with Brendan Hunt’s Coach Beard, showed him trying to assimilate to British culture. Sudeikis credits his then-partner Olivia Wilde (House, Booksmart) for giving him the idea of making Ted Lasso into a series when they were out to dinner; for the rest of the meal, he ran through a potential backstory for his character and thought up possible directions that he could take his fish-out-of-water soccer coach.
The show began to take shape once Sudeikis linked up with TV veteran Bill Lawrence (Spin City, Scrubs) back in 2015 to write the pilot. It wasn’t until 2018 and 2019 when the project would come together. In an interview with Collider last summer, the two dissected Ted’s genuine nature, and agreed that a departure from more “snarky comedy” would be the perfect antidote for the state of uncertainty in the world.
Since its debut in the heart of the pandemic, it has received significant attention and critical praise. Sudeikis won a Golden Globe for his performance, the writers won a Writers Guild of America Award, and the series even won the highly-selective Peabody. While the version we see of Ted Lasso in the TV series is much more understanding and eager to learn, some moments from the commercials are directly inserted into the episodes. For example, one of the press conferences in the U.K. has Ted learning for the first time that soccer can end in a tie and that the game is played in two halves, not four quarters. Another moment has him trying to understand England’s geography. Coach Beard explains that Wales is technically part of England, but that just confuses Ted more, as he wonders, “How many countries are in this country?”
Slowly but surely, he makes England his new home. Throughout the season, the down-on-their-luck players cannot help but be charmed and inspired by Ted. Even team owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) who initially hired Ted to tank the team’s chances and to annoy her cheating ex-husband, was moved by Ted’s boyish innocence, determination, and outrageous tea biscuits. But before we break down what to expect in Season 2, let’s revisit the Season 1 finale.
What Happened in the Season 1 Finale?
[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through the Season 1 finale of Ted Lasso, “The Hope That Kills You.”]
The last episode of the season, “The Hope That Kills You,” explores that very theme: hope. The overall mood of the fans in the local pubs and across London is despair, as they anticipate a big loss against Manchester City. (The phrase, “It’s the hope that kills you,” is uttered more times than Ted would like.) The episode proves to be an emotional rollercoaster, as there is plenty of anxiety heading into the match that will determine their standing in the Premier League.
There are moments to celebrate, as loyal and trusty Nathan (Nick Mohammed), who spent the Season as the lowly equipment manager, is promoted to assistant coach. While the team presents Nate with his own whistle and gives him a proper welcome, reality sets in rather quickly. Ted tells Rebecca he understands that this match could mean his firing from the organization. The narcissistic Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster), who previously played for Richmond and is now a star player on Manchester City, spews confidence to the press about the make-or-break-it match. Jamie, admittedly frustrated with Ted’s complimentary “mind games,” stops to see his on-again/off-again girlfriend Keeley (Juno Temple). What he thinks will be an uplifting visit proves to be the complete opposite, as he is greeted by a stone-faced Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), his nemesis both on and off the field.
During their pre-game pep talk, Ted asks his team if they believed in miracles. He proceeds to excite the skeptical players as they gear up for an intense match. Roy, veteran player and team captain, passes the leadership position to Isaac (Kola Bokinni), leading fans to believe this could be his last game. Higgins (Jeremy Swift), Rebecca, and Keeley cheer on Richmond from the stands, and Rebecca’s ex watches from his home with the new woman in his life. The team strives for a tie, as that would be enough for them to hold on to their standing. Roy starts the second half and is forced to go toe-to-toe with Jamie. Ted wears his inexperience on his sleeve, stopping to ask the referee if he could explain what “offsides” means. Coach Beard steps in to help him out with an easy-to-digest condiment metaphor. It was rewarding to see Roy, who is routinely labeled as slow-moving, sneak up behind Jamie and kick the ball out from under him. This crucial move, however, results in a nasty fall for the older player. The crowd lifts his spirits with an expletive-filled chant as he aches to his feet and hobbles back to the bench. Roy wallows in the locker room and is consoled by Keeley.
The team debuts an elaborate new play known as “the Lasso Special,” much to Ted’s surprise. The play, designed to resemble American football and trick the opposing team, does just that. Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernández) manages to tie the game, leading to deafening applause from the crowd. This excitement is short-lived, as Manchester City scores the winning point and seals Richmond’s fate.
Ted uses the loss as a teaching moment and encourages the team to be more like goldfish (because they have short-term memory). He argues that yes, they can be sad, but they should also be grateful that they are able to be sad together. Ted tries to congratulate Jamie on a good game, but he instead witnesses Jamie being berated by his father for not making the winning goal himself. As Jamie boards the team bus, he is stopped by Coach Beard, who hands him a small envelope. The note was from his ex-coach, who congratulated him on a great pass. Accompanying the note was a miniature green soldier, which Ted used throughout the Season as a token of hope and encouragement.
At the same time, Ted needed encouragement himself, as he presented Rebecca with his letter of resignation (which he wrote on the back of a take-out menu). To his surprise and utter delight, she has big plans for him and the Richmond organization. The episode ends on the same gag from the pilot, when Lasso sips his water and does a spit-take. (To be fair, he wasn’t expecting bubbles.)
Season 2: What We Know So Far
The trailer for Season 2 teases some exciting storylines and asks the audience, “Are you ready to believe again?” A.F.C. Richmond is forced to confront their devastating loss, Nate is getting used to his new position, and Ted throws a rare temper tantrum. Footage of Ted and Rebecca sporting their respective Santa and elf hats hint at a Christmas-themed episode. (Who doesn’t want to see London during the holidays?) There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of inspirational speeches, either. But Ted’s biggest hurdle this season could be winning over the new sports psychologist, Sharon, played by Sarah Niles (Catastrophe, I May Destroy You).
Fans were delighted when they heard that the show was picked up for at least two more seasons by AppleTV+. A speedy contract extension indicates that, in addition to ratings success, the streamer sees a solid future for the show. Sudeikis hinted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, however, that he could see the Ted Lasso story being completely told in three seasons. While ending a popular series after two or three seasons is common for British television shows, (think Ricky Gervais’s The Office and Extras, and Phoebe Waller-Bridges’s Fleabag) Americans are routinely spoiled with their favorite series lasting for as long as seven to ten years.
Whatever might happen, we’ll find out when Season 2 of Ted Lasso premieres Friday, July 23 on Apple TV+. New episodes will air weekly.
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