What a wanker! But, if Preet Bharara can become a Ted-head, then maybe so should I. What began years ago as a pair of commercials for NBC’s coverage of the Premier League (watch them here and here) later blossomed last year into Apple TV’s new hit sitcom, Ted Lasso. Both incarnations star Jason Sudeikis as the titular Ted. With part hokum, part good natured personality, Lasso parries all comers with his boundless optimism, “You know what the happiest animal in the world is? It’s a goldfish. It’s got a ten-second memory.” Once the coach of a third-rate American college football team, Ted jumps the pond and lands like a fish out of water as the head coach of one of Britain’s top soccer clubs. Clueless of the sport and reviled by all those who follow it that ten-second short-term memory sure comes in handy. Even his new boss, the woman who hired him cannot stand him. The team’s new owner, she only hired him to get back at her philandering ex-husband, whose only love was this team. With Ted’s expected incompetence, she hopes to precipitate its relegation and her ex’s humiliation. With no knowledge of the sport, a boss who has set you up to fail, a locker room full of man-child misfits and martial problems to boot, what could go wrong?
Missing from those NBC adverts, but furnished in glorious abundance in this show are the qualities that makes Ted Lasso a charm. Ted is self-admittedly ignorant of all things soccer, but is also wise in ways that matter more, much more. Step-by-step, day-by-day he worms himself into the hearts and minds of all the members of this club. From biscuits with the boss, who soon becomes fixated upon them, to first noticing and then respecting the team’s lowly kit man, Ted touches them all. The Sudeikis schtick does become grating, like a one note SNL skit that has gone on too long, but by about the third episode rays of comic joy begin to pierce this façade. By the fifth episode, if you are not openly weeping, well maybe this show is just not your cup of tea, a pity. As in any sports themed show the turnaround is foreordained. Detractor’s cries of “What a wanker!” are replaced with crowd cheers of “Wanker! Wanker! Wanker!” I couldn’t stay up late enough to binge the entire season in one sitting, but I’ll finish it today. Then I’ll sit Anne down and watch it again with her. This last year has been unendingly craptacular, in almost every way. Little breaths of sunshine like Ted Lasso will help me to make it through to the next day.