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Ted Lasso flips the 'ugly American' cliché on its head 

Created by Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, Bill Lawrence, and Joe Kelly, this series now in its second season follows folksy American college football coach Ted Lasso (Sudeikis) as he's hired by AFC Richmond, a struggling London football team competing in the U.K.'s Premier League. (30 min. episodes)

click to enlarge ALL HEART Jason Sudeikis stars as an indefatigable American college football coach who's hired to turn around a struggling Premier League London football club, in the surprisingly emotive Apple TV Plus series Ted Lasso, now in season 2. - PHOTO COURTESY OF RUBY'S TUNA, UNIVERSAL TELEVISION, AND DOOZER
  • Photo Courtesy Of Ruby's Tuna, Universal Television, And Doozer
  • ALL HEART Jason Sudeikis stars as an indefatigable American college football coach who's hired to turn around a struggling Premier League London football club, in the surprisingly emotive Apple TV Plus series Ted Lasso, now in season 2.

Glen I normally wouldn't recommend adding another streaming service for just one show, but I love Ted Lasso so much that it alone is worth the $4.99 a month for Apple TV Plus. It's a very funny comedy, but more than that, it's a show with a ton of heart. Coach Lasso is a relentlessly positive person operating in a cynical world. Does he know anything about soccer? Not really! Do his players like him? Certainly not at first. They assume he's going to be a classic "ugly American"—loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, and ignorant. Instead, he's upbeat, encouraging, insightful, and deeply committed to helping his players be the best they can be. The deck is certainly stacked against him. Team owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) recently acquired the team in a messy divorce, and she'd like nothing better than to see it fail, which would crush her ex, Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head). That's why she hired Lasso, assuming he'd flounder. Though he seems unsophisticated at first, Lasso's smarter than he appears, and the joy of the series is seeing him slowly win over not only his players, but eventually Rebecca, and then the team's fans. It's heartwarming as heck!

Anna I heard a bit about this series, and while it was all praise, I didn't add it to my list right off the bat. Sure, Sudeikis is a funny guy, but I'm not a big sports fan and you're not a big sitcom fan, so it seemed like this one may not be meant for our home screen. Boy, was I wrong! This has a ton of heart and a ton of humor, and I am absolutely head over heels for this series. With 20 Emmy nominations, Ted Lasso clearly hasn't gone unnoticed by everyone, but like you said—those without Apple Plus are sadly missing out. It's totally worth finding a free trial or forking over a few bucks because this is such an easy binge, it's a no-brainer. Released once a week, we are still getting new episodes out, and it's also a show I 100 percent see myself watching again. Ted Lasso isn't the only endearing one in the bunch—there is Brendan Hunt as Coach Beard, Nick Mohammed as underdog turned right-hand-man Nathan, Rebecca's bumbling assistant Higgins (Jeremy Swift), and Keeley (Juno Temple), who cheers the group on in her snarky but sweet way. That's just the beginning. There's a whole lot to love here, and my favorite element of Ted Lasso is its willingness to have hard moments, to mix struggle with irreverent humor, and to leave the audience hopeful, and, if you're like me, totally in love with this group of people.

Glen You're right! Even the super gruff team strongman Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) and arrogant team striker Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) grow into likable characters. One of the series' ongoing lessons is to not judge a book by its cover. The character arcs prove these people can grow and improve. They can also do terrible things, regret them, and be worthy of second chances. Though the setup is entirely different, Ted Lasso reminds me of The Office. Both bear repeat viewings, both feature insufferable characters that grow on you, and both are wicked funny with moments of genuine pathos. I don't know if Ted Lasso can sustain itself like The Office, which ran for nine seasons, but I hope it can! I want to see Lasso and AFC Richmond go the distance and win the Premier League. I also want to see these characters blossom into the good people we know they're capable of being.

Anna I like that it isn't all wins for this team. While they've got some star players and a coaching team that believes in them, they're still the underdogs and the losses cut their morale to the quick. Ted is such a beam of light, but we soon learn that his departure from America is more complicated than just taking a job—he has a wife and a son back home, and while he loves them both deeply, his marriage is on the rocks. He does get a chance to show his son what he's doing across the pond and reconnect with his wife, but in the end, Ted is once again alone in England. Sudeikis is so great at being nuanced here. While his front of a happy-go-lucky, go-along-to-get-along guy allows Lasso to be a positive and inspirational influence on those around him, the character isn't without his own anguish. It's touching and funny, a show I hope continues on for as long as it can stay good and true to its heart. This is definitely worth the price of Apple TV Plus! Δ

Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Split Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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