The identity crisis of ‘Ted Lasso’

While a football club promoted to the English Premier League is always cause for celebration, it also marks the start of a new challenge. A recently promoted side cannot rest on their laurels if they want to avoid finishing in the bottom three and dropping back down to the lower division. As a result, clubs either have to decide to go all-in with the group of players that promoted them in the first place, or they can channel resources into bringing in new faces with more experience competing at the top level of football. (On their return to the Premier League this season, Nottingham Forest opted for an extreme version of the latter strategy, signing an unprecedented 30 new players since the summer of 2022.)

Faced with this decision, many teams that are promoted suffer an identity crisis – and the fictitious AFC Richmond of Ted Lasso is no different. Richmond is back in the Premier League at the start of Ted LassoThe third season of: an impressive achievement that is somewhat undermined by all the pundits who picked them to finish last. But as Richmond returns to his underdog status, he’s keeping things interesting for Ted Lasso on the screen, there was also plenty to wring their hands on the off-screen series.

As Ted Lasso is the crown jewel of Apple TV+, Apple is understandably hesitant to say goodbye to the show, even though all signs point to the new season being its last. It doesn’t get any clearer than star and co-creator Jason Sudeikis saying, and I quote, “This is the end of this story that we wanted to tell, that we hoped to tell, that we loved to tell.” (Apple does not explicitly promote Ted LassoThe third season of the show’s ending has the same vibe of someone insisting he hasn’t split up with his partner, he’s just taking a “break”.) All things considered, there’s there is a lot of noise around Ted Lasso both on the pitch and in speech, and the show has responded by embracing a new philosophy: go big or go home.

After spending the summer holidays with his son, Ted Lasso (Sudeikis) openly wonders why he’s still coaching a football team in London, an admission that takes on an almost meta quality given the show’s uncertain future. What is much more certain is that Richmond face an uphill battle to stay in the Premier League, which puts them in stark contrast to West Ham United, a powerhouse now managed by Ted’s prodigious former assistant Nate. (Nick Mohammad). Nate’s second-season heel turn – complete with a physical transformation that’s part Jose MourinhoLeland part of twin peaks– would be reason enough for Richmond and West Ham to develop a rivalry. But there is also the small problem of the respective owners of the club. For Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), there is no greater incentive for Richmond to succeed than the fact that her womanizing ex-husband, Rupert (Anthony Head), is the new owner of West Ham. The same impulse that led Rebecca to hire Ted two seasons ago – a major league– a scheme to upset Rupert and his Richmond fandom by bringing in someone who had never been a football coach – now forces him to help the team win at the expense of his ex.

Again, there’s an interesting friction at the heart of Ted Lasso between the intense demands of the sport and the eponymous coach who cares more about the welfare of his players than winning or losing. But the ambition to overtake West Ham, in particular, means Rebecca and other key Richmond figures are ready to go against the Lasso Way™. Case in point: When a mercurial superstar named Zava (Maximilian Osinski) becomes a free agent at the start of the season, Richmond is determined to secure his signature, despite the player’s reputation for only caring about himself. (Zava is a fun stand-in for Zlatan Ibrahimović, a larger-than-life character who likes to refer to himself in the third person.)

Needless to say, the biggest concern with Zava’s potential joining Richmond is his attitude destroying the selfless culture that Ted has built. Along the same lines, there are questions about whether Rebecca wants to sign Zava for the good of the team, or whether her determination to get one over Rupert’s West Ham, who are also interested in the player, clouds her vision. At the same time, Richmond could be doomed to repeat history if the club don’t try something new. (For all of Ted’s contagious enthusiasm, Richmond was still relegated in his first year in charge.)

This same philosophical situation applies to Ted LassoThe third season overall, which is caught between giving fans the familiar feel-good vibes that made the show an Emmy-winning sensation and delivering an ambitious expansion of its world. To that end, the show juggles the workplace dynamics of three different environments this season: Ted and the rest of the gang in Richmond, Nate dealing with his new managerial duties at West Ham, and former model Keeley. (Juno Temple) launching its own marketing. business. Balancing all that storyline is a big part of why the third season features such inflated running times: of the four episodes provided to reviewers, all run over 40 minutes, and one even hits the 50-minute mark. Just as Coach Lasso is far from Kansas, Ted Lasso is a far cry from its half-hour sitcom roots.

Whether or not this development is encouraging could depend on what individual viewers want from this series. There is a world in which Ted Lasso relies entirely on its wholesomeness, becoming the successor to sitcoms like Schitt’s Creek And Parks and recreation, where the joy of watching the series is seeing characters you love spending time together. But to Ted LassoTo its credit, the series clearly cares more about pushing the story forward with its overarching message of self-improvement, even if that means putting the characters in more trouble. (That being said, these Season 3 runtimes are like someone turning in an essay that was double the original word count – there’s no shame in asking an editor to reduce the fat !)

Some fans may have been upset when Nate broke at the end of last season, but Season 3 highlights that the character’s antagonism comes from a place of deep insecurity, leaving the door open for redemption. . (I’d bet my savings on Nate’s redemption arc by the end of the season.) Then there’s Rebecca, falling into the same trap she did in season one when the prospect of a vengeance against Rupert clouds his decision-making. Likewise, just because Ted finally told a sports psychologist about his panic attacks doesn’t mean he’s immune to setbacks, especially when his loved ones are across the pond and continuing their journey. life. Ted LassoThe heartwarming moments of – rest assured, there’s still a lot to do – might be what rattled viewers when it premiered near the start of the pandemic, but the series is at its best when that boundless optimism is opposed to real adversity.

In a strange way it means Ted Lasso is now contradicting itself. On the one hand, the series continues to try to shake up its status quo by introducing new conflicts and characters; on the other hand, he argues that change is not always a good thing, especially if it comes at the expense of our principles. There should be a lot more clarity as to the type of show Ted Lasso wants to be by the season finale, which could most likely double as a series finale. But until then, the Ted Lasso Mindset is at a Crossroads: A Show Aiming to Go Big Before go home for good.

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