Like most middle-aged guys, I don’t watch soccer.
Even more than that, though: I’m a little suspicious of soccer. I am not advocating that the FBI drop all of its current cases and start tapping the phones of soccer fans. But part of me would understand. It has occurred to me that some people who choose soccer over football are willfully eroding American culture from the inside.
Sounds ridiculous, but that’s the basic premise of “Ted Lasso” in reverse.
“Ted Lasso” tells the highly improbable story of a college football coach from Kansas who is hired by a struggling London soccer team called AFC Richmond.
The community is passionate about AFC Richmond; the club is their identity. Everyone who Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) meets – the players, the fans, the media – loathe him instinctually. The notion of an American who doesn’t even like soccer coaching their beloved team isn’t just depressing; it is downright offensive.
Ted Lasso talks like a folksy red state stereotype, but he is no fool. He understands that he is the most hated man in West London, and he is completely undeterred.
Lasso and his American assistant coach love people and they have a talent for team building. On his first day, angry aging superstar Roy Kent busts into the Coaches Room and announces that it is a disgrace that his career will end being coached by “Ronald ******* McDonald.” When Roy storms out, Ted Lasso just smiles. “You think he’s mad now? Wait until we win him over.”
And that’s the show in nutshell. Ted Lasso brings enthusiasm, patience, and understanding to every interaction and every relationship.
Ted’s main antagonist is team owner Rebecca Welton. It turns out that Rebecca hired Ted Lasso as a sick prank to help sabotage her own team. It sounds like “Major League,” but Rebecca is no villainess. Rebecca wants to be an ice queen, but she’s full of contradictions and vulnerabilities. It’s delightful to watch her evolve from bad guy to lovable heroine.
You know how some people believe that God actively watches over people and gives us a helping hand when we need it? There is no truth to that, but the wonderful writers of “Ted Lasso” imagine just such a world.
When a character is at his lowest point, another character swoops in like an angel and offers a shoulder to cry on and an infusion of empathy and hope. There are a lot of f-bombs, but “Ted Lasso” is the most wholesome show on television. If you have a tendency to cry from happiness, get ready to start sobbing at least once a night from episode 4 to the finale.
On top of everything else that the show does well, “Ted Lasso” does a splendid job presenting the soccer action.
Sports movies have an ugly habit of presenting the most important game action in slow motion with overly emotional music playing on the soundtrack (“Rudy,” “Invictus,” “Moneyball”). I don’t like that at all.
The makers of “Ted Lasso” understand that you don’t need slow-mo melodrama when you have characters that the audience know and love. Lowly Richmond does not always win; but when they play well it feels great. When Richmond scores a goal, I get a chill.
“Ted Lasso” is such a wonderful show that it has me caring about soccer. Uh oh … What’s that clicking sound on my phone?