It feels downright serendipitous that the arc of the titular hero of Apple TV+’s critical darling comedy closely mirrored my own journey with the show.
It feels downright serendipitous that the arc of the titular hero of Apple TV+’s critical darling comedy closely mirrored my own journey with the show. Ted Lasso premiered to little-to-no fanfare in the midst of the pandemic in 2020. I checked out the pilot episode shortly after, purely out of curiosity and I found the fish-out-of-water story populated by likeable actors, but full of stale archetypes and predictable plotlines, and didn’t return to the show until months later. In-between my viewings, the show racked up tons of accolades – including a Golden Globe and SAG award for lead actor and co-creator Jason Sudeikis – and ranking at or near the top of most critics’ and publications’ “Best of 2020” lists. Once I picked the show back up, I found myself fully won over by its charm, infected by the eternally optimistic spirit of its lead.
So could a second season capitalize on the groundwork laid by the first season? How much was the appeal of Ted Lasso due to its release date as a shining beacon of positivity amongst the dumpster fire of last year? How much can a TV show skate by on witticisms and good-intentioned American optimism? If the premiere, “Goodbye Earl”, is any indication, the show will be as fine as a conga line under a pine (or something like that).
For the uninitiated, Ted Lasso revolves around an American college football coach who suddenly and inexplicably is hired to uproot his life and coach a middling British football club. The club’s owner, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), wants him to fail to spite her ex-husband, and the ragtag team he’s inherited can’t seem to get along. By the end of the first season, Ted’s infectious spirit brings them all together, united under a common cause. The show never exactly re-wrote the playbook on plot development or nuance, and comedy is rarely its strong-suit, but the secret weapon is the cast’s formidable chemistry. Every actor has brought his and her A-game to put forth a winning product, with every one of them gelling together through every pairing that co-creator Bill Lawrence has thrown at them.
“Goodbye Earl” picks up months after the season one finale, with AFC Richmond demoted below the Premier League and stuck in a seemingly endless rut of matches that end in ties. Part of the fun of the episode is seeing how much each character has and has not grown in their personal and professional lives since we last saw them. Aging superstar Roy Kent (a delightfully grouchy Brett Goldstein) has retired; Rebecca and Keeley’s (Juno Temple) friendship has only grown closer. The narrative backbone of the episode involves Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernandez) and his attempts to recover from a hilariously traumatic in-game incident, which causes Ted to bring in a hard-edged sports psychologist named Sharon (Sarah Niles).
Season premieres are all about setting expectations for the episodes to come, and “Goodbye Earl” sets up some intriguing plot potential to look forward to: Rebecca’s love life will definitely be an emphasis (I’m sure the will-they-won’t-they demon will inevitably come for her and Ted, but for now I’m enjoying their current non-romantic status), and Ted is clearly facing insecurities around his players’ growing reliance on Sharon. And, surely, more characters will step into the spotlight and more complications will arise. But as long as Lawrence, Sudeikis, and their team stay true to the optimistic spirit of the show, Ted Lasso can’t fail.
Season 2 of Ted Lasso premieres on Apple TV+ on July 23, with subsequent episodes released every Friday.
About the Writer: Ben Sears is a life-long Indianapolis resident, husband, and father of two boys, as well as a contributing writer on ObsessiveViewer.com and a recurring co-host on The Obsessive Viewer Podcast, and a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. Aside from watching movies and television, Ben enjoys photography and running marathons, but never at the same time. That would be difficult.