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Saturday, July 24, 2021

5 Ways ‘Ted Lasso’ Became a Surprise Comedy Hit

“Ted Lasso,” last summer’s sleeper TV hit, returns for the much-anticipated second season on Friday on Apple TV+.

For the uninitiated, “Ted Lasso” follows a charming, cracking voice and perpetually optimistic American football coach (Jason Sudeikis) who is hired by the squad’s frosty new owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), to be a mediocre British football team. Hired to look after.

Prey? Ted knows nothing about soccer.

Yes, it’s a wacky premise, but the feel-good, underdog story struck a nerve with audiences desperate for some upbeat vibes (and some hearty laughs) during a trying time. “Ted Lasso” became an unexpected event as well as an award darling. Last week, it was showered with 20 Emmy nominations—the most for a fresh comedy.

How did this happen, exactly? Let us count the ways:

1. Power of Positive Thinking

At a time when the television landscape is littered with dark dramas, apocalyptic stories, and ample horror, Ted Lasso’s ever-sunny demeanor stands like a refreshing oasis.

Yes, the odds are stacked against him: British fans and the media think he’s a joke. His players at the AFC Richmond club can’t believe they have been saddled with this uncanny posture.

Still, he approaches his work – and life – with a mustache smile and a sense of being able to do (“I believe in hope. I believe in faith,” he insists). Above all, he’s a man who treats everyone with kindness and respect—even the team’s low equipment manager (Nick Mohamed).

2. Quoting Life Lessons

Ted is way smarter than one might suggest from his enigmatic demeanor. In many ways, he holds the key to helping those around him unlock their true potential.

This knowledge is imparted through seemingly silly – but spot – verbal gems. For example, when one of his players gets depressed over some insults, Ted encourages him to put the negativity away quickly.

“You know what the happiest animal on earth is?” Ted asks. “It’s a goldfish. You know why? Got 10 seconds of memory. Be a goldfish.”

Jason Sudeikis in “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+. (Apple TV+/TNS)

3. Humor from the Heart

A sports sitcom that’s actually so much more than sports, “Ted Lasso” offers moments of very broad, goofy humor and laughs. It’s also a way to sneak up on you and strike unexpected emotional chords.

One of the show’s more dynamic subplots deals with Ted’s personal life. We learn in Season 1 that he is in the midst of a painful divorce and misses his young son very much in America.

4. Outstanding Ensemble

All the talk of “Ted Lasso” begins and ends with Sudeikis. But it’s worth mentioning that the show’s Emmy nomination windfall had an astonishing six nods to the supporting cast — Juno Temple, Brendan Hunt, Brett Goldstein, Jeremy Swift, Waddingham, and Mohamed.

Clearly, this is a nimble outfit that’s got game. And each of them offers something unique to the oddball mix.

Waddingham, in particular, brings to the fore the nuances of what could be a cartoonist Ice Queen. He is an extraordinary. And Mohamed is quietly hilarious as the insecure “Kit Man,” who turns out to be a sweet, sad puppy before taking more bites.

5. The Weirdest Secrets of Soccer

Soccer may be the so-called “beautiful sport” – even the most popular sport in the world. Still, many Americans don’t fully understand this and Ted expresses his nervousness in a way that makes us feel a little more comfortable with our ignorance.

When, for example, he learns that there are ties in football, he is incredulous.

“If God wanted the game to end in a tie, he wouldn’t have invented the numbers,” said Ted Grouse.

And what constitutes an offside violation in football? Poor Ted is dumb.

“I think I really have a better understanding of who killed Kennedy, which is offside,” he says before taking a long pause and adding: “It was the mob.”

– Tribune News Service

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