What matters to Ted Lasso is not winning the game on the field, but rather the one in the locker room. In fact, that’s his principal virtue as a coach; he infects his players with his optimism while baffling them with his theories on fish and their memories. And that’s how Ted Lasso went from being snubbed by his team to shoving them in his pocket, shoving audiences into his pocket into the bargain.
Because that contagious optimism, that ability to keep smiling always on point below the mustache, whatever happens, was a very welcome injection of energy in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, which is when the show was released on Apple TV+ immediately becoming a lifeline to many (not that many, as the platform is still a minority compared to others). And circumstances would have it that the release of season two on 23rd July, would also coincide with a crucial point in the pandemic, so Ted Lasso’s philosophy will be very welcome. However, our coach is going to face an unexpected defeat and one that won’t be as easy to recover from.
And we’re not referring to a defeat on the field of play, but the type of defeat the character really cares about: that of the locker room. The appearance of a psychologist who has been hired to resolve a crisis with a player is going to put Ted Lasso in a difficult situation when the psychologist’s therapies become more effective than Ted’s and the players start becoming enthusiastic about her presence. Because isn’t Ted Lasso more the team psychologist than the coach? In fact, if he doesn’t know anything about football, an aspect that he leaves above all in the hands of his team, his principal virtue is knowing how to keep his players motivated and optimistic. The psychologist thus constitutes a threat to Ted Lasso’s position in the team, because with her doing her job, what he can contribute as a coach is no longer necessary, dealing a major blow to a character for whom his role at the center of the team represents an enormous part of his life; being the alma mater of a group is what makes him feel alive. A bond that, and this is a no-brainer here, has become more and more important to him since his divorce. To top it off, Ted sees his work with the team as being closely associated with that of the break with his now ex-wife, since they both attended couples therapy, an event he still conserves bad memories of.
Therein lies the key as to how the series finds a way to continue showing the character’s most vulnerable side, something that had worked very well in the first season in contrast to his optimism, and which might have evaporated when the storyline involving his ex-wife concluded. The psychologist once again places the character back in a situation where he’s suffering and he’s clearly helpless when it comes to her powers. Actress Sarah Niles (“I May Destroy You”) takes on an enigmatic look and attitude to play the medical professional, thereby making the character, who takes a defensive position, even more confusing to Ted. But no one realizes what Lasso is thinking and feeling. Only the viewer, thus maintaining a complicity with the character that was already one of the keys to the first season together with the interpretation of Jason Sudeikis and the perfect inner workings to bring together the entire cast and crew in this situation comedy.
Other differences with season one include two fundamental pieces leaving the team: the conceited Jamie Tartt and the proud Roy Kent. However, the team of creators of the series, which in addition to Jason Sudeikis, includes Brett Goldstein, the actor who plays Roy, has found a way to keep them close to the principal action with a parallel storyline that could really work well in the upcoming episodes. All these new features are a clear demonstration that Ted Lasso has no intention of resting on his laurels after early success. The excellent work on the series in the first season saw the show breaking records at the Emmys, becoming the most-nominated comedy in its debut (a total of 20, beating ‘Glee’). But the series is perfectly aware that it needs to raise the bar even higher and that this is nothing like a game of football or a trophy. Ted Lasso, as well as the series, is well aware that despite the game itself being played on the field, the match is won in the hearts of audiences.