It is evident from its first season that Ted Lasso is more than just a football show. Initially, a character developed to promote the premier league in a series of American adverts, Ted Lasso becomes a complex and emotionally profound show. Its second season tackles subjects of mental illness, trauma, and anxiety. But most importantly, the journey of overcoming them.
In its essence, the show is human. Much like the main character, it is outwardly positive while realistically grounded in the struggles of human nature. The contagiously positive titular character, Ted Lasso, struggles with divorce, anxiety, trauma, and betrayal. He is initially hesitant to therapy, dismissing its use after the events of the first season — none too surprising for a middle-aged man from the American midwest. Never discouraged, and against the thought of giving up, Ted navigates his way through therapy after experiencing multiple panic attacks. Ted’s holistic nature is challenged when everything comes crashing down. The complexities of the character have allowed Jason Sudeikis to display his full acting aptitude in a way we haven’t seen from him before. So much in fact that he walked away from the Emmys with the award for Most Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.
The introduction of sports psychologist Sharon Fieldstone forces Ted to face his past trauma. Much like reality, if trauma is not addressed, it can manifest physically. This is displayed in Ted’s recurring panic attacks. Mental health representation in the media is not always great. There aren’t many shows that portray mental health struggles in a realistic form. Ted Lasso does it well by being conscious of an audience that may suffer from these symptoms. Unlike other shows, the show presents them in a healthy, non-stressful manner (cough, 13 Reasons Why, cough). The symptoms of Ted’s ailment are not sensationalised or glorified as character-defining qualities. Much like Ted, we are not defined by our conditions.
This season is an upgrade on the first, which says a lot about its quality. Ted’s ethos and the sunny disposition of the first season are challenged by the harsh authentic situations of its second. The characters are hilarious and lovable, with much credit due to its cast. Brett Goldstein as hardman Roy Kent and Hannah Waddingham as boss ass bitch, Rebecca Welton, offer particularly stand out performances. The characters continue to develop in ways faithful to their psychology. Nathan Shelley, a self-hating nobody, turned egotist, begins his villain origin story. We are unsurprised when his character “goes for it” in the most recent episode. In this case, we already knew Nathan displayed the neurosis of a person that could mistake kindness from women for romantic attention. Rebecca Welton also grows into her future self while healing through a divorce that overlaps with Ted’s complications.
In an overtly cynical world, Ted Lasso offers refreshing positivity. The show exhibits quality humour with constant pop-culture references in its framing and dialogue. It subsides toxic tropes, and most situations resolve themselves in mature ways. The characters are not good for the sake of being good; they are good because they are just good people. It is a comfort show that eases your heart and mind.
One of the more memorable quotes is that “football is life.” Not in the sense that football is the only thing that matters, but that much like football, you could be in a dreamland, and at any moment, it can all come crashing down. I’ve seen my team lose in the 95th minute, just as I’ve experienced emotionally painful moments that compose our lives. But I’ve also seen my team make dream runs to champions league finals, just as I’ve experienced life’s moments of pure joy. In that sense, Ted Lasso offers metaphorical wisdom and heart in the simple narrative of a college grid-iron coach managing English football.