We live in the golden age of television. There always seems to be a buzz around big tv shows that everyone talks about. HBO ruled Sundays on Twitter during Game of Thrones. House of the Dragon was popular as well. Some people say that Breaking Bad or The Sopranos is the best tv show ever, but they are all wrong. Bar for bar, scene for scene, the best tv show is Ted Lasso. Ted Lasso is the perfect tv. The writing in this show is so good, and the series finale this past week should be studied.
Jason Sudeikis is amazing as Ted Lasso. He recently did an interview about the intentionality of Ted’s positivity. Most of the time, when we talk about an actor tapping into emotions or a certain headspace for a character, it’s usually negative or dark. Evan Peters talks about how he struggled to tap into the dark headspace he needed to play Jeffrey Dahmer. The most infamous case is probably Heath Ledger playing the Joker. So for Jason Sudeikis to play such a positive character is a breath of fresh air on TV. Not everything needs to be dark or brooding. We still see Ted, a happy-go-lucky positive ray of sunshine, go through struggles. His struggles don’t define who Ted is. He struggles with panic attacks, but we still see him joke with The Diamond Dogs about their favorite Julie Andrews roles.
Positivity seems to be a hard thing to find out in the world lately. There is so much hate and division that watching a fictional Premier League team overcome most of its obstacles with the positivity of a shonen anime main character is fun.
No Wasted Jokes
Ted Lasso wastes no jokes. There are callbacks on callbacks to small little jokes littered everywhere in this show. It never feels forced or overdone, either. That writer’s room deserves every award they have won and then some. Honestly, if you blink while watching, you might miss a joke or two. They are everywhere, and they always come back. There is a level of silliness to many of the jokes that would be unbelievable if it wasn’t for the powerful positivity of Ted. The Diamond Dogs are constantly barking when the meeting is a level of commitment to the bit you only ever see with close friends. I could probably write a whole dissertation dissecting the comedy in this show. It’s full of heart and laughter.
The last episode is one giant callback. We get every loose end dealt with in a little over an hour. It’s not rushed or overdone. Every little easter egg scattered in every little corner of the show leaves you warm and full. It’s not like the fan service in some other properties that leave you rolling your eyes. One of my favorites is the Believe sign. A small homemade yellow ‘believe’ sign had me ready to run through a brick wall twice. When the team learned Nate ripped the sign, I was ready to lace up and take the field with them.
But in the season finale, when it was revealed that each team member saved a small piece of that small yellow sign, I was ready to lace up again and help beat West Ham. But the best thing about that scene is seeing where everyone kept their piece of the sign. Sam Obisanya kept his picture of the Nigerian National team he wanted to be a part of so badly. Colin and McAdoo having their pieces on their person during games fit them so well. But the one that got me was Jamie Tartt pulling his piece from the book Ted had given him, showing his growth from a selfish star to a leader and team player.
Shows that have one character who goes about redeeming themselves and do it well have all the bragging rights. Avatar, the Last Airbender, might have the single best character redemption arc ever. When I think of redemptions, Zuko is the first person to come to mind, but now Jamie Tartt and Nate the Great are close behind him. Having one character is amazing for a show, but having two is an absolute flex. Jamie’s process of going from a selfish star who only played for his glory to the connective tissue of A.F.C. Richmond is an absolute delight to watch. You hate him at first. You hate him for being rude to Sam (arguably the second-happiest character in this show). But he learns and grows, and while he can still be a pr*** at times, the team loves him for it.
Nathan Shelley, aka Nate the Great, aka The Wonder Kid, is one of the best character arcs in all of tv. You can’t help but feel bad for him at first. He is just a ball of nerves and anxiety at the show’s beginning. He lacks confidence, even though he is a tactical soccer genius. But slowly, you see him give in to darker emotions. He lets his insecurities dictate his life. You hate Nate like Ramsay Bolton or Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones. I actively rooted for his downfall, but somehow he redeems himself. By the end of the series, you forgive him. It was nice to see him again in A.F.C. Richmond’s locker room.
Be Curious, Not Judgmental
Ted Lasso is chock full of life lessons. Every episode is special, and every season has a message it highlights. It’s easy to look at and judge a book by its cover, but it’s harder to be curious and not judgmental. The harder path usually has the bigger payout. Ted Lasso would probably annoy us in real life, but this show highlights the importance of how life isn’t about how to survive the storm but how to dance in the rain. The show touches on big topics, but the Team, Ted, and everyone else learns to dance in the rain regardless of the storm. Positivity can carry you to places negativity never will.