“Success is not about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves, on and off the field.” ~Ted Lasso
If it hasn’t been said often enough yet, let me reiterate that Ted Lasso is the best show out there right now. Period. Full stop. I mean, I could stop writing this post right here because that is all that needs to be said. (If you haven’t seen it yet, get yourself Apple TV this instant.) I’m not surprised by the appeal of a show about an over-the-top, optimistic, and genuinely kind American fumbling his way through England and soccer (although the show now has me calling it football). As a global society during a continuing pandemic that leaves us more isolated than we would like, we were all looking for something to connect us. Ted Lasso does that by combining characters from around the globe who teach us that we have more in common than we know. And, yes, at the end of the day it is a feel-good show, but I don’t believe that it is as simple as that.
What makes the characters so relatable is their struggles and their humanity. Take Jamie Tartt, for example. He could have been written as a self-absorbed soccer phenom and nothing else, but the writers have taken care to show us that his drive to be the best, to be the star no matter who he tramples over to do it, comes from being bullied by his father. Consider Rebecca. Her mean girl, initially selfish desire to bring the football club of her cheating ex-husband to an end stemmed from humiliation and a lack of self-esteem brought on by years in an abusive marriage. Even Ted Lasso himself, despite his infectious optimism, is no stranger to emotional pain after learning his own wife doesn’t love him anymore because he is just too much.
What makes the show award-worthy is not its clever dialogue, winsome characters, and perfect casting, but its ability to tackle dark struggles in our human condition with honesty and maturity. At the end of the day, the show is about owning your shit and learning to rise above it. It’s about seeking continual improvement in yourself, your relationships, and your life. It’s about being accountable, apologizing when you are wrong, and working to do better. Ted Lasso is not merely a feel-good vehicle giving us the positivity we crave in what feels like dark times. It’s about learning how to endure the dark times with grace and come out better on the other side.
Ted Lasso isn’t coaching AFC Richmond. He’s coaching us. And like the seats in the show’s intro, Ted Lasso is turning our hearts from cold, hard blue to warm, vital red.