Roush Review: Always Rooting for the Hilarious ‘Ted Lasso’
Don’t tell Ted Lasso, but he’s a front-runner — at the Emmys, anyway, where Apple’s delightful feel-good sports spoof Ted Lasso achieved a personal best by earning 20 nominations, the most ever for a freshman comedy. The even better news about a sensational Season 2, which starts streaming weekly on Friday: Coach Ted and his AFC Richmond soccer team remain underdogs of the lowest order.
Not that Ted (the effortlessly amusing and luxuriantly mustachioed Jason Sudeikis) minds much. “There’s two buttons I never like to hit, and that’s panic and snooze,” the folksy Kansas transplant quips at a press conference after a particularly mortifying mishap on the field.
He still can’t abide the tea in his newly adopted land of England, but Ted has managed to win over most every local skeptic with his disarming optimism and down-home wisdom. This despite the team being downgraded to a lower tier, currently stuck as the season begins in a rut of humiliating tied games.
Ted Lasso has lost some of the hooks that made the first season so intriguing. His boss, glamorous but lovelorn Rebecca (the fabulous and Emmy-nominated Hannah Waddingham) is no longer secretly plotting against her new hire. Departed bad-boy teammate Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) is committing career suicide on a dating reality show as the first act of a redemption arc. Unhappily retired over-the-hill star player (the hilarious profane, and also Emmy-nominated, Brett Goldstein) growls while making 8-year-old girls giggle with his swearing as an inappropriate amateur coach. (And wait till he makes sportscasters blanch when he tries TV punditry.)
So it’s a brilliant move to create conflict by bringing aboard a wary sports psychologist (Sarah Niles, nicely underplaying) who initially resists Ted’s charms and his non-stop zingers—even his biscuits, because she shuns sugar, to his dismay. The more she tries to pierce his genially gabby armor, the harder he resists, even though he knows that a panic attack could strike at any time.
Their emotionally-charged jousting provides a smart and necessary counterbalance to a show that perfectly blends saltiness and spice with an overwhelming sweetness. If Ted sometimes errs on the side of sentimentality, as in a Christmas episode that made this viewer teary, is that such a bad thing in these cynical times?
Besides, who’s not to love among the rest of Ted’s Emmy-nominated ensemble? Brendan Hunt (a series co-creator) as gruff Coach Beard, Nick Mohammed as insecure assistant coach “Nate the Great” — who lets his newly gained authority go to his head, to his (and our) chagrin — Juno Temple as frisky marketing whiz (and Roy’s lover) Keeley, and Jeremy Swift as executive mensch Higgins, who spends the season sheepishly floating around the arena, a man without an office.
They’re all winners. And as Ted would say, “That’s a heapin’ spoonful of truth soup right there.”
Ted Lasso, Season 2 Premiere, Friday, July 23, Apple TV+