TV Review: Ted Lasso, Series 1

A giant warm hug of a show that really shouldn’t be as good as it is, Ted Lasso is a huge success that deserves more people watching it. Also, Hannah Waddingham!

“Hell I’m coaching soccer for heaven’s sake, in London”

Well who saw this coming? Apple TV’s original programming can often seem a bit random so on the face of it, a series based on a character created by US actor Jason Sudeikis for adverts for the American coverage of the Premier League fits right into their wide stable. But Ted Lasso actually emerges as an outrageously successful underdog comedy that is far more than just a football show.

Sudeikis plays the title character, an American football coach with an indefatigably optimistic personality who is hired by Premier League strugglers AFC Richmond despite his inexperience with real football. It turns out that the recently divorced owner has done it in order to sabotage the beloved club of her ex-husband but naturally, his easy charm can’t help but start to win everyone over.

So far so cloying but Sudeikis and fellow creators Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly have nailed a tone that balances the happy-go-lucky with the bittersweet and a heart that is emotionally true. This is none more true than in Nate’s journey from bullied kitboy to assistant coach, Nick Mohammed’s perfectly judged performance the very essence of heartwarming. 

But it is such a well-crafted show that there’s well-defined arcs everywhere. Juno Temple’s Keeley breaking free of the confines of the WAG stereotype, Brett Goldstein’s veteran midfielder Roy (also a co-writer) dealing with the realities of ageing in a young man’s game, Hannah Waddingham’s Rebecca thawing out of the pain of divorce (her burgeoning friendship with Keeley is a joy to behold).

Throw in numerous shots of Richmond looking lovely, locker-room scenes full of eye candy, Waddingham getting to sing a bit of Frozen, Annette Badland as a rowdy pub landlady and job’s a good’un. In these uncertain times with lockdowns looming, Ted Lasso feels like a perfect cure. 

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