Embracing the darker side, Ted Lasso kicks back into gear


Advertise with us

‘Well, I guess I do sometimes wonder what I’m still doing here,” says an uncharacteristically downbeat Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) in the first episode of the third season. “I know why I came, but it’s the sticking around I can’t figure out.”

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe:

Monthly Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.


‘Well, I guess I do sometimes wonder what I’m still doing here,” says an uncharacteristically downbeat Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) in the first episode of the third season. “I know why I came, but it’s the sticking around I can’t figure out.”

Ted, having seen off his young son Henry at the airport after a six-week visit, is questioning why he’s staying in England. But this is also a question any good series needs to ask itself: Are they adding a season to extend their story in some significant way, or are they just doing the same-old, same-old for more views?

This much-loved sports comedy (on Apple TV+, with new episodes dropping on Wednesdays) had a peppy, promising rookie season, offering a sense of kindness and connection that felt especially welcome in the early days of COVID. It suffered from a bit of a sophomore slump early in Season 2, as if the writing room had the yips, but by diving into some darker dramatic material managed to finish strong.

wfpyoutube: https://youtu.be/IR9yjn7Lkdg:wfpyoutube

So far, Season 3 feels like both a steady return to form and a bit of meaningful expansion. As the story opens, the Richmond football club is back in the Premier League, but it’s been picked to finish last by almost every sports wonk and social media commentator around, including Paddington Bear. (The always hopeful Dani, played by Cristo Fernandez, is disappointed to hear about Paddington’s prediction, but even more discouraged when he hears “that sweet little bear” probably doesn’t write his own tweets.)

Roy (Brett Goldstein) and Keeley (Juno Temple) are either “broken up” or “on a break,” depending on who’s talking. Keeley is struggling to run her marketing firm, which has been financed and set up by a mysterious venture capitalist. She seems baffled when the no-fun-nik CFO comes into her office to talk about the weekly £200 outlay on flowers, partly because she doesn’t realize CFO stands for Chief Financial Officer.

Team owner Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) is dealing with her overwhelming need to best her ex-husband Rupert (Anthony Head, coming off more and more like a deliciously evil ’80s-era Bond villain), who runs rival club West Ham.

Nathan Shelley (Nick Mohammed), once mentored by Ted, is now head coach over at West Ham. The media is calling him the “wonder kid” — he keeps hoping the classy, Euro-sounding “wunderkind” will catch on, but it hasn’t stuck — and it’s gone to his head. Nate is dismissive of his colleagues and cruel to his players (“Run them till they drop”). And he’s trash-talking Ted at pressers.

Finally, everyone is thrown off by the possibility that some lucky English team might acquire Zava (Maximilian Osinski), a one-name superstar euphemistically described as “mercurial.” Richmond and West Ham are both vying for him.

And of course, there’s Ted. He’s still doing the musical theatre riffs and dropping ’90s pop culture references. (My fave so far: “Beg to differ, Claudia Schiffer.”) He’s bringing everyone biscuits and making goofy dad jokes and using elaborate extended metaphors to explain things, which at one point involves a team visit to the historic London sewer system. As he himself admits, he’s like “Ned Flanders cosplaying as Ned Flanders.”

There are some changes. And it’s not just that Ted seems to have figured out it’s called football instead of soccer in England. It’s not just that he now knows who Maradona is.

While Ted’s superpower will always be radical kindness, he’s beginning to gingerly examine the darker side of his people-pleasing positivity, his obligatory optimism, his conflict-averse interpersonal style. He’s starting to realize it’s OK to express loss and fear and disappointment and even anger. Sports-wise, it might even be OK to want to win.

Season 3’s episodes have longer runtimes, with the fourth episode clocking in at 50 minutes, which seems to underline the series’ gradual shift from breezy half-hour sitcom to deeper dramedy.

The show’s most important takeaway has always been that every character — good, bad, indifferent — is on an emotional journey. Everyone is dealing with hidden histories and deflected pain.

At one point in the first episode, Keeley reminds Rebecca that she needs to “let Ted be Ted.” This third season seems set to find out who exactly that might be.

alison.gillmor@ freepress.mb.ca

If you value coverage of Manitoba’s arts scene, help us do more.
Your contribution of $10, $25 or more will allow the Free Press to deepen our reporting on theatre, dance, music and galleries while also ensuring the broadest possible audience can access our arts journalism.
BECOME AN ARTS JOURNALISM SUPPORTER Click here to learn more about the project.

Alison Gillmor

Alison Gillmor

Studying at the University of Winnipeg and later Toronto’s York University, Alison Gillmor planned to become an art historian. She ended up catching the journalism bug when she started as visual arts reviewer at the Winnipeg Free Press in 1992.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us